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.


Kid Sis said...

So cool!!!

Mike Lynch said...

Love this story. Thanks.

Mom of Three said...

That's so cool, I'm a major Snoopy fan, But still, dontcha wonder what they'd (hypothetically) fetch on eBay?

Brian Fies said...

Schulz sketches turn up from time to time (as well as many, many obvious forgeries--beware!). I'd guess mine are worth a couple hundred dollars.

Schulz is in a class by himself as far as the value of his work goes. You can buy original strips by contemporaries of his for a few hundred dollars or even much less, while his go for several thousand. At the same time, there's a lot of variability in the market. It all depends on who's shopping that day.

Karin said...

I own an original color Snoopy drawing that was done for me by Mr. Schulz in 1989. I met him when I appeared in a commercial featuring Snoopy for Canine Companions for Independence, his favorite charity. I had a dog from their organization at that time.

I'm sure the drawing is worth some money, but I've never bothered to find out how much since I'd never sell it. The memory is too precious. Mr. Schulz was a quiet, kind, wonderful man and I feel so lucky to have met him.

BTW, Brian, I've got your book in my Amazon shopping cart right now. :) I found you through Miriam Engelberg (RIP) whose book I loved. I lost my mother to cancer in 1999, and my stepmother, who my father met after my mom's death, recently successfully battled ovarian cancer. I have also been working with people who have cancer at The Wellness Community for the past year. I admire your courage in chronicling your family's journey so honestly and look forward to reading your book.