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FUNNY THINGS in the New York Times!

August 28, 2023

Review Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz in the New York Times Book Review
Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz by Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi finally reaches stores this week! And to launch it with a bang, yesterday's Sunday New York Times Book Review featured a thoughtful and heartfelt review of the book, written by none other than Jeff Smith, the bestselling author of Bone.

Smith notes that he of all people “took a moment to get over the audacity” of the book's premise — “as a cartoonist and one of those people for whom Sparky [Schulz] was Michelangelo... it comes close to treading on sacred ground.” But upon reading Funny Things, he was relieved that Debus and Matteuzzi took their hero seriously too.

After praising the book's structure, the way it intertwines Schulz's life with his life's work, and the way it “feels accurate” to Smith's own personal encounters with Schulz, the review concludes:

The human being — self-doubting, proud, committed and sometimes dark — who forged one of the most significant artistic creations of the 20th century comes through in these pages.

By using the visual language of the “Peanuts” comic strip, Debus and Matteuzzi tap into our collective unconscious: We recognize Sparky because we know Charlie Brown. It’s a brilliant conceit, and it took cojones to do it. Hats off.

Smith's review is the latest to join a cavalcade of advance praise for Funny Things, including from internationally beloved strip cartoonist, Lynn Johnston, whose blurb graces the back cover. It all shapes up to make this handsome hardcover a must-have for both super-fans and casual comic readers alike, and a perennial gift for years to come.

“Readers will gain remarkably intimate insights into this quiet but doggedly ambitious man, four panels at a time. Debus and Matteuzzi even manage to alchemize humor and melancholy in a way that anyone who has come across Peanuts... will recognize.” — Booklist (starred review)

“Surprisingly emotional... an affectionate yet bracing portrait of an artist who never overcame self-doubt, workaholism, and insecurities to appreciate his own greatness. Even readers only passingly familiar with Snoopy and the gang will be charmed.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An insightful and affectionate biography of an iconic American artist... the format masterfully emphasizes the deeply personal quality of Schulz’s work.” — Library Journal

“A brilliant and audacious idea... this beautifully published volume is nothing less than magical.” — Air Mail

Funny Things is a beautiful and clever new way for the world to get to know the dear friend and mentor I knew for thirteen years.” — Lynn Johnston, creator of For Better or For Worse