Since I'm currently in the most labor-intensive semester of my Master's degree (1 week = 40 hours work, 10+ hours interning at elementary school, 16 hours on weekends at hospital's psych unit) I haven't found much time to work on My Alter Ego. The ending to the Skomolii saga is coming, just probably not until mid-December. So I thought I would take a small break and instead post some semi-regular articles on my artistic influences.
Let's begin with the great Charles M. Schulz.
Schulz's big break was a small comic strip called Peanuts. Beginning in 1950 and running until 2000, the strip explored the isolation, depression, and just plain mean spirit of childhood. Schulz, himself, has said the strip was about unrequited love. Charlie Brown could never speak to the little red head girl, Schroeder would never return Lucy's affection, and the kid's baseball team could never win a game. If these things were to happen, the strip would no longer be funny.
Schulz may have been the hardest working cartoonist. He never took a day off in 50 years of drawing the comic strip, excepting in 1999 when he was placed in the hospital after being diagnosed with colon cancer. Shortly after receiving treatment Schulz was back at the drawing table, however, with a shakier drawing hand. In the end the comic strip would outlive its creator by one day. A symbolic ending for a man who loved what he did, and dedicated his life to perfecting his art.
A wonderful autobiography, Schulz and Peanuts, came out last year. I recommend it for anyone interested in reading more about Schulz's life and his own battle with depression. Fantagraphics is also reprinting all of the old Peanuts strips into really great box sets. In my opinion, nobody is able to draw the innocence of childhood as honestly and accurately as Schulz.
Having dealt with a great deal of anxiety and isolation in my own youth I connect with Schulz's comic on a personal level. Charlie Brown makes me feel not so alone. So much so that he's been tattooed on my right calf. I've also said that K10 and I are what would have happened if Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt grew up and got married.