Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts by Chip Kidd | Book Review

(You can't see it in this digital copy of the cover, but it's made of really thick cardboard, with a cloth spine.  The image on the front is actually physically impressed into the cardboard as well as inked.  Pretty cool!)

The cover of my copy of Only What's Necessary had a sticker on it saying that it had never-before-seen, unavailable-anywhere-else art inside, and it did!  The author worked with the director of the Charles M. Schulz museum in California and got access to stuff in the archives that very, very few people had ever seen before, and got permission to publish some of that stuff here.

Only What's Necessary has forewords by the author, the director of the Charles M. Schulz museum, and Schulz's widow.  They're not long, but they're the lengthiest text in the whole big book!  The book is organized to give a half page to a page worth of background on an aspect on Charles M. Schulz's life or career, then follow that with about 6-10 pages of art and comic strips that illustrate the background info.  I thought it was really interesting to learn more about where Charles M. Schulz was coming from when he created Peanuts.  One of the things you get to see in the book that you wouldn't otherwise ever see:  envelopes donated to his archives from an old Army buddy.  While they were serving together in WWII, Charles M. Schulz would do little drawings on the envelopes of the letters that his buddy was sending home, illustrating daily Army life.  At the very end of the book you also get to read an entry by the director of his museum, telling about which strips were his favorite after all those years.

I highly recommend!  Especially to Peanuts fans, of course, but also to folks interested in biographies or art.

*I checked out my copy of Only What's Necessary from my local library.

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