Thursday, November 02, 2006
What Did You Find in Your Shower?
These are two original Charles Schulz sketches I found in the shower around 1976-77. Explaining how I got them requires me to write a sentence I am extremely reluctant to type: When I was a teenager, my family belonged to the same raquet club as Mr. Schulz.
I expect that admission to conjure a completely inaccurate image of my family, our finances, and our position in the social strata. We didn't talk like Thurston Howell III while dashing off to the polo pitch in our tennis whites (nor did Mr. Schulz, come to think of it). We were just a solidly middle-class family who found a nice place to play tennis and swim. Why Mr. Schulz spent time there was beyond me, although I suspect it was simply for the friendship and competition. As I recall, he regularly appeared atop the tournament leader boards. He certainly didn't need the facilities, what with having his own indoor and outdoor tennis courts back at his studio.
In any case, I was playing tennis one day with my best friend, hacking away. We weren't rowdy or disruptive but we weren't very good, either, and our balls kept dribbling into the adjoining court whose players gamely returned them to us. When our neighbors left, my friend said, "That was Charles Schulz!" I'd played beside the man--and no doubt annoyed him--for an hour and never noticed.
When we finished I went into the clubhouse locker room and found these slips of paper lying on the floor, crumpled and completely soaked with water that'd run over from the shower. They were literally circling the drain. Obviously Mr. Schulz had drawn them for a friend or fan who promptly lost them. I took them home, gently uncrumpled them, pressed them flat between paper towels until they were completely dry, and used a soft kneaded eraser to pick up as much dirt as I could without touching the pencil. They couldn't have been more lovingly restored if they'd been sent to the Louvre.
And so they've sat in a scrapbook for thirty years until today, when I decided to matte them properly and add them to my slowly growing collection of original cartoon art. My Winsor McCay, Irwin Hasen, Raina Telgemeier, Ted Slampyak, and Otis Frampton are now joined by my two Charles Schulzes... which, no disrespect to those other talents (some of whom I consider friends), classes up the joint considerably.