Jeannie Schulz’s further comments on her husband’s biography

Lucy Van Pelt as therapist.

Jeannie Schulz, widow of the creator of Peanuts, offers some further thoughts on David Michaelis’ Schulz and Peanuts. Earlier postings on the subject can be found here, here, and here.

Jeannie Schulz’s comments:

There is an issue that Michaelis brings up a number of times in the Schulz biography which has completely baffled me in that he seems to take an accusatory tone that Sparky didn’t get therapy for his “problems”. I am not sure how it is attributed, but the statement is that Sparky didn’t go to therapy because he was afraid it would alter his creativity (or words to that effect). Sparky did, in fact, go to two different therapists at two different times. But that is not the point I want to make.

Sparky told me early on in our marriage when in fact he WAS going to a therapist to combat his “travel anxiety”  (I think it helped in that it gave him an understanding that lots of people feel this way and it gave him a framework so that he could devise strategies to make it better.) That it was his first wife, Joyce, who suggested that he was afraid to go to therapy because it would stifle his creativity. He always pooh-poohed her statement but it but it obviously sounded logical to some people and stuck in their minds.  It seems that as Sparky is not here to explain, that anyone writing about it would ask more questions and seek additional perspective.

Another correction I feel needs to be made came from listening to David Michaelis on Forum last week. When questioned about the family’s objections to the book, Michaelis suggests that we family members are upset because we have created a legend around Sparky and the book has diminished that legend. It is quite the contrary Sparky was not a legend to us. He was a husband and father. I spend my days at the museum attempting to humanize Sparky to people who are making him bigger than life. Sparky himself knew that it was impossible for most people to comprehend what a cartoonist does, and when people were overly lugubrious in their praise, he tried to explain that that was “just what he did”, that he had a unique combination of talents that were what he needed to succeed. He preferred to be recognized as working hard to draw the best strip he could every day, rather than being overblown as some sort of superstar. That actually is embarrassing, not flattering. So we continue at the museum trying to explain the human Sparky.

There is no way to describe how the creative process works, we simply have to appreciate the mystery; but we can describe his dedication to his craft and his singleness of purpose which I think was critical to his success. Since I have been thrown into a portion of his world, I have come to realize that Sparky worked hard to keep his life simple. I try to do the same.

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