‘The Peanuts Papers’: How a comic strip shaped the lives of writers and artists

Bob Blaisdell in The Christian Science Monitor:

The best thing about this excellent and pleasing anthology of 33 tributes to “Peanuts” is that it will probably evoke your own memories of newspaper comic-strip reading and reawaken your appreciation of Charles M. Schulz’s round-headed, adult-sounding children and the imaginative dog Snoopy. “An isolated four-panel comic strip of Charlie Brown and Linus debating a philosophical point can be appreciated just as it is, humorous, insightful, compact, and perfect; one strip a day documenting one man’s thoughts for half a century has the weight of a full life,” writes the cartoonist Ivan Brunetti. As a collective eulogy to a cultural phenomenon, “The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life” testifies to the inspiration and importance of Schulz’s work at critical times in the authors’ (usually) younger lives. Satirist and critic Joe Queenan reflects: “Unlike so many other venerated objects in U.S. pop culture, it was sweet without being stupid, reassuring without being infantile.”

…That daily dose of taking in Schulz’s “not arty” work allowed us to identify with hopefulness despite all the evidence in the newspaper and in our lives that hopelessness is more reasonable. Discussing the annual depiction of Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown as he runs up to kick it, the psychiatrist Peter D. Kramer explains, “Charlie Brown is trusting to a fault – or a virtue. He prefers to trust, however often his faith is betrayed. Giving fellow humans the benefit of the doubt is a fine if painful way to live. ‘Don’t! Don’t!’ we cry to Charlie Brown, and then we’re glad he does.”

More here.