Friday, December 14, 2012

Charles Schulz Love Letters and Drawings On Sale Today

If you have something of value, Sotheby's is certainly the place to sell it. Today, 44 letters and 35 drawings by Charles Schulz are being put up for auction. Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Schulz's creations, as iconic as apple pie and baseball, represent the epitome of wholesomeness, so it was interesting the way this tale has been told in the media.

I first heard mention of it in a story on National Public Radio yesterday. The narrator began by saying the creator of Charlie Brown and Snoopy was married twice in his life. In between these two long marriages, he courted a younger woman, Tracey Claudius. Schulz at the time was nearing fifty and Tracey was 25.

Charles Schulz Museum, Santa Rosa
The impression created by the way the story was told is that the romantic inclinations toward this younger woman occurred while he was single. So I was a bit surprised, as I looked into this later last night, that The Huffington Post piece gave the story a different slant altogether. The headline declares Peanuts Creator Charles Schulz's Extramarital Love Letters Going To Auction.

NEW YORK -- The late "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz was once so infatuated with a young woman 23 years his junior he sent her dozens of romantic letters and drawings of his beloved cartoon characters. Many of the themes of that correspondence made it into his daily comic strips at the time.

Evidently Schulz even proposed to her a couple times, but she may have recognized him as such a symbol of wholesomeness that an affair like their might have a damaging effect on his reputation. And it may be this reputation of wholesomeness that led me to not hear that this 1970 romance occurred while he was still married. His marriage to Joyce Halverson officially terminated in 1972. The following year he was married again, to Jean Forsyth Clyde.
 People who've studied these letters and drawings have noted that some of the themes actually appear in the Peanuts cartoons Schulz created that year. In various ways he "talked" to her even though she was far away.

The letters were written during an eight-month period starting in 1970 when Schulz's first marriage was deteriorating and before he met his second wife. During this time, Schulz, 48, wrote Tracey Claudius, 25, poignant, funny, even innocent notes in pictures and words, often using Charlie Brown to stand in for himself.

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In other arts related news, tonight there will be art openings at the PROVE Gallery in Duluth and the Ochre Ghost two blocks down the alley. Mary Bue will also be in town performing tonight, and if you're in Dublin, be sure to check out John Nolan's Pop Up  Art Gallery in the Omni Park Shopping Center, Santry. It's Christmas season with plenty of opportunities to buy local, wherever you are.

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