Sunday, January 8, 2006

art: Charles M. Schulz Peanuts museum

I visited the Charles Schultz museum, as funny, sweet, and moving as I hoped. The current exhibition of Peanuts-themed Japanese quilts shows his universal appeal.

I love the anecdotes of how he had to look up the big words like "existentialist" with which his art was labeled in the 60's and 70's. Yet unlike the original comic strips (that Art Spiegelman reimagined in In the Shadow of No Towers), Peanuts has barely dated. The visual games he plays with Schroeder's music notation are fully modern.

Even though I somewhere have nearly all the Holt, Rinehart and Winston compilations, had a bunch of Aviva "World's Greatest ..." Snoopy figurines, and even saw "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown" in person, I forgot how bleak the strip's foundation was. From the very first strip Charlie Brown is a blockhead, a failure in pitching, football-kicking, kite-flying, and everything else. There's never a fake happy ending. All the relationships are unrequited: Lucy and Schroeder, Sally and Linus, Peppermint Patty and Charlie Brown, Marcie and Peppermint Patty (?!), and of course Charlie Brown and the little red-headed girl.

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