Book Review: You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown! (Charles M. Schulz)

Book Review: You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown! (Charles M. Schulz)

Snoopy and The Peanuts Gang

Snoopy and The Peanuts and their comic strip has been a huge part of my life, since pretty much forever. My pet mouse I had in kindergarten was named Snoopy; one of the first things I can really remember reading was the Sunday Comics and in particular The Peanuts.

My grandma got the paper and we would spend Sundays reading it (I feel like I’m severely dating myself here), my dad would get them, read everything but the comics while I read the comics, and then I would give him the comics for him to finish.

The Peanuts was top of the list for all of us. For Grammy, for dad, for myself. Its interesting how important of a comic strip they’ve been to so many. Amy talks about how they were always her favorite, and how they were Uncle Bob’s favorite as well.

[See my previous book review about The Philosophy of Snoopy here – Book Review: The Philosophy of Snoopy (Charles M. Schulz).]

There were numerous comic strips I enjoyed – Wizard of Id, The Far Side, Fox Trot, Calvin and Hobbes, Blondie, B.C., Garfield, Hagar the Horrible, The Lockhorns, Heathcliffe, Pearls Before Swine, Mutts, Awkward Yeti, and so many more.

[See my book review about The Awkward Yeti here: Book Review: Heart and Brain – An Awkward Yeti Collection (Nick Seluk).]

Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz drawing in 1955 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

A quick biography of Charles M. Schulz from Wikipedia:

Charles MonroeSparkySchulz (/ʃʊlts/; November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000)[2] was an American cartoonist and the creator of the comic strip Peanuts, featuring what are probably his two best-known characters, Charlie Brown and Snoopy. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists in history, and cited by many cartoonists as a major influence, including Jim Davis, Murray Ball, Bill Watterson, Matt Groening, and Dav Pilkey.

Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip”, states Watterson, “so even now it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes. The clean, minimalist drawings, the sarcastic humor, the unflinching emotional honesty, the inner thoughts of a household pet, the serious treatment of children, the wild fantasies, the merchandising on an enormous scale – in countless ways, Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.”

Charles Monroe Shulz – Wikipedia


At its height, Peanuts was published daily in 2,600 papers in 75 countries, in 21 languages. Over nearly 50 years, Schulz drew 17,897 published Peanuts strips.[22] The strips, plus merchandise and product endorsements, produced revenues of more than $1 billion per year, with Schulz earning an estimated $30 million to $40 million annually.[2] During the strip’s run, Schulz took only one vacation, a five-week break in late 1997 to celebrate his 75th birthday; reruns of the strip ran during his vacation, the only time that occurred during Schulz’s life.[23]

The first collection of Peanuts strips was published in July 1952 by Rinehart & Company. Many more books followed, greatly contributing to the strip’s increasing popularity. In 2004, Fantagraphics began their Complete Peanuts series. Peanuts also proved popular in other media; the first animated TV special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, aired in December 1965 and won an Emmy award.[24] Numerous TV specials followed, the latest being Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown in 2011. Until his death, Schulz wrote or co-wrote the TV specials and carefully oversaw their production.

Charlie Brown, the principal character of Peanuts, was named after a co-worker at Art Instruction Inc. Schulz drew much from his own life, some examples being:

  • Like Charlie Brown’s parents, Schulz’s father was a barber and his mother a housewife.[25]
  • Like Charlie Brown, Schulz had often felt shy and withdrawn. In an interview with Charlie Rose in May 1997, Schulz observed, “I suppose there’s a melancholy feeling in a lot of cartoonists, because cartooning, like all other humor, comes from bad things happening.”[26]
  • Schulz reportedly had an intelligent dog when he was a boy. Although this dog was a pointer, not a beagle like Snoopy, family photos confirm a certain physical resemblance.[27]
  • References to Snoopy’s brother Spike living outside of Needles, California, were influenced by the few years (1928–30) the Schulz family lived there; they moved to Needles to join other family members who had relocated from Minnesota to tend to an ill cousin.[28]
  • Schulz’s inspiration for Charlie Brown’s unrequited love for the Little Red-Haired Girl was Donna Mae Johnson, an Art Instruction Inc. accountant with whom he fell in love. When Schulz finally proposed to her in June 1950, shortly after he had made his first contract with his syndicate, she turned him down and married another man.[29]
  • Linus and Shermy were named for his good friends Linus Maurer and Sherman Plepler, respectively.[30]
  • Peppermint Patty was inspired by Patricia Swanson, one of his cousins on his mother’s side. Schulz devised the character’s name when he saw peppermint candies in his house.
Charles Monroe Shulz – Wikipedia

Ok, I think we’ve taken enough of a look at all the parts in the background (myself, Charles M. Schulz, The Peanuts, etc.), lets get to the book review.

Book Review: You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown!

You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schulz

This is the 250 page paperback, published December 31st, 1985 (year I was born).

GoodReads back blurb:

This commemorative collection celebrates the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Peanuts comic strip by bringing together the author’s favorites, with reflections on the sources for the comic strip from his own childhood.

You Don’t Look 35, Charlie Brown! by Charles M. Schulz – GoodReads

This is a fun way to do a “clip show” style of showing clips and comic strips from (at the time) 35 years of The Peanuts. Intercut with paragraphs and pages of Charles M. Schulz’s personal accounts, autobiography, discussions, and inspirations for different strips.

These intercut essays are a great look into Charles M. Schulz and who he was, and how much his life influenced The Peanuts strip. Theres also some interesting background and backstory stuff about the creation of The Peanuts as well.

The strips selected are funny, mainly because The Peanuts in general is funny. So its hard to go wrong with picking a “best of the best” from their collective run, when most of their strips are already very good.

Classic strips of Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football, Snoopy as the Red Baron, Linus and the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and his horrible baseball team, Peppermint Patty and Marcie, Snoopy playing golf, hockey, tennis, Woodstock helping Snoopy out, and so much more.

This is certainly worth a read and a look over for any Peanuts fan.

My GoodReads Rating: ****
Global Average GoodReads Rating: 4.47 (as of 4.28.23)
My LibraryThing Rating: 4.5

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