Apparently, last month, rock legend Prince included “Linus and Lucy” in his set list. That’s a recording I’d love to hear.
Word has come out that David Liverett died on Friday at the age of 72. His contribution to Schulz scholarship was his book They Called Him Sparky, an oral history book on Schulz’s involvement in the Church of God. This was a book that I reviewed favorably when it came out, and years later became publisher of it to give it better distribution.
David was an illustrator and author (as well as a loving father and clearly devoted husband.) His books focused on music biographies and on spirituality. A committed Church of God member himself, David would build a book by bringing together essays by insightful Christians and illustrating them with some relevant thematic visual in his pointillist style – for example, his book Just Beyond the Passage: Life’s Changes in Art and Story (the one most relevant to this current news) has pictures of doorways and gates. In his last year, he had been working on another book of music biographies, following up his previous work on gospel singers and country musicians with a book on rock’n’rollers, drawing hundreds of pictures in the process.
I never met David, but I talked with him on the phone many times as we worked to get the books that he published available again, and he was charming, friendly, and at once both hopeful and realistic. He had lived with his cancer for years, and outlived the prognosis that he had told me when we started to make his books available again. In addition to the Sparky book, we managed to get back out Light from the Barn, Questions for God, Just Beyond the Passage, When Hope Shines Through, and Those Grand Ole Country Music Stars. (Two further books, Faith for the Journey and Love: Bridges of Reconciliation, are facing technical difficulties but should be available eventually.)
He loved and was loved, and he built things that remain available after he’s gone. That’s a good life.
Kindly deliveryman has brought me two books in the [blank] Like [character] series, Messy Like Pigpen and Cool Like Snoopy. Now, when I review a book, I try to do it with consideration as to who the target market is… but in this case, I’m really not sure. These are board books, so you’d reckon that they’re for little hands (which they are), with lots of pictures (which they have), and perhaps some text (they’ve got that) which is meant for parents to read to pre-readers. It’s that last one where my expectations for the book grow befuddled.
Both of them tell stories based on the strip, with the Pigpen book more telling actual strip lines and Snoopy more about building a single story. And it’s in the Pigpen book, leaning more on strip dialog, where the most egregiously curious text lies. If you’re aiming a book at the under-3s, do you really want to throw in disheveled, psychiatrist, archaeologist, civilizations, and other words of that scale? Or is this book targeted at older folks, and if so, why a board book? This runs into the sort of juggling that happens regularly with Peanuts, which is a series developed for adults but embraced by children.
Vicki Scott unsurprisingly does a nice job of illustrating both books; I particularly like her Pigpen.
If you think these books are for you, I encourage you to buy and enjoy them. I’m just not sure who you are.
Coming up this Saturday is Free Comic Book Day. Now, usually when I wax rhapsodic about this annual event, I’ve had some free Peanuts-inclusive comic book to steer you toward at your local comic shop, but not this year. With the KaBoom Peanuts series about to draw to a close, they’re focusing their promotion on other publications.
But so what? Go to your local comic book shop anyway. This year’s free books include comics mainstays like Archie and The Phantom, comics linked to this summer’s comics-based movies like Civil War and Suicide Squad, comics of animation favorites like Simpsons, Bob’s Burgers, and Pokemon, science fiction franchises like Doctor Who and Serenity, and some things you’ll never have heard of but which may be great! Go to www.freecomicbookday.com to find out details.
This is the sort of thing where I’ve had news I wanted to share, but couldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) until everything was ready – but now it is! Back in 1964, Charles Schulz illustrated a book of kids’ letters to the then-new president, Lyndon Johnson. The letters had been selected from the White House pile by Bill Adler, who had done a previous similar book of letters to Kennedy as well as compiling the best-selling The Kennedy Wit. But Dear President Johnson has been out of print for many administrations now, and plenty of Schulz fans have never seen a copy.
So I fixed it.
I cut deals with both the Schulz people and the Adler people, got the needed rights. An in order for this to be good business, I had to find markets for it — this book is going to be available both at the Schulz Museum gift shop (just in time for the new presidential-themed exhibit “Mr. Schulz Goes to Washington,” which opens this weekend! Serendipity!) and soon at the gift shop at the LBJ Presidential Library.
And, of course, for those of you who don’t happen to live by one of the museums, it’s available at Amazon.
About 100 pages, black and white with a color cover, 6″ square paperback with a list price of $9.99.