For a book about a comic strip creator, however, Michaelis' book is oddly joyless and lacking in any humour. While the author has no difficulty detailing Schulz's sometimes paralyzing self-doubt and depression, he fails to ever bring to life the man who could find self-effacing, and sometimes biting, humour in these circumstances. Michaelis also spends a lot of time finding correlations between what was going on in Schulz's life and what he was drawing in his strip. Some of this is valid; it doesn't take a genius to know that Schulz was often mining personal experience for Peanuts. But Michaelis carries this a bit too far, in my opinion, sometimes exaggerating the importance of a remark or action by Schulz in order to prove his hypotheses. Also, he has an annoying habit of engaging in armchair psychology, in which a lot of his conclusions about Schulz's motivations seem mostly surmise and supposition, based on data which could easily be interpreted in other ways. I might be doing him a disservice, but I got the feeling while reading the book that Michaelis decided early on who Schulz was and why, then went looking for annecdotes and strips which would support his theories.
Charles Schulz's kids and several people who knew him well have reacted badly to this biography, saying that they don't recognize the warm, generous man they remember in Michaelis' portrayal. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in between- that Charles Schulz had his flawed, angst ridden side described is such great detail by Michaelis, but also had his warm, humorous side so fondly remembered by those who loved him. In short, he was human. This book, unfortunately, just doesn't make time for other, contradictory, facets of his character, which for me, anyway, makes its portrayal of him seem incomplete and sort of flat.
Whatever the true nature of the elusive Mr Schulz, I'm simply glad that he lived, and gave us such a great gift as Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts Gang.