Saturday, July 18, 2009

Charles M. Schulz: L'il Beginnings

This was a wonderful treasure I took back with me from the Schulz Museum: a complete collection of the "L'il Folks" cartoons that he drew prior to Peanuts. My whole life, I've heard them mentioned, and dismissed as trivial, and this seemed strange to me, because the few I had seen seemed so clever and witty! Apparently the reason for them staying hidden was because Schulz held a low opinion about them, though it isn't clear why. It could be because he reused a lot of the L'il Folks gags later in Peanuts? Hard to say. But it is absolutely wonderful to go through these cartoons, where you can see his style evolving significantly from what he learned in art school, to the style of the early peanuts comics, in only about two years. Quite clearly and distinctly, you can see Charlie Brown, Schroder, and Snoopy coming into being, out of the mist. And you can see how naturally his style flows into the early Peanuts comics, which then flows into the slightly "older looking" style of characters that he stuck with for the life of the strip. Thank goodness Jean agreed to let them be published! Reading this, I felt like I understood Schulz like never before, and I think I understand the creative process better, as well. Glad I found it there -- it's not available anywhere else!

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