Biographies / Charles M Shulz

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Charles M. Schulz

Charles M. Schulz

The American newspaper cartoonist Charles M. Schulz is world famous as the creator of 'Peanuts' (1950-2000). Preceded by his similar first feature 'Li'l Folks' (1947-1950), the 'Peanuts' series revolves around the unlucky boy Charlie Brown, his idiosyncratic dog Snoopy and a gang of other kids. Their daily antics and anxieties ran in over 2,600 newspapers, making it the most widespread comic strip on the planet. 'Peanuts' owes its success to its gentle comedy, humanity and psychological-philosophical themes. Its universe is filled solely with children and animals, used by Schulz as a satirical metaphor for the adult world. His characters express doubts and worries, suffer from bullying, depression and other emotional turmoils and wonder about life and their existence: complexities unprecedented in gag-a-day comics at the time. Schulz pulled it off with four daily panels, a simple graphic style and witty punchlines, touching both mainstream readers and intellectuals. The characters have appeared in animated films and on truckloads of merchandising, making Schulz one of the rare billionaire cartoonists. However, he kept his personal touch by creating every episode of his sophisticated newspaper comic singlehandedly over the course of 49 years. Together with Walt Disney and Hergé, Charles M. Schulz remains one of the most analyzed, referenced and influential cartoonists in the world.

Early life and influences
Charles Monroe Schulz was born in 1922 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but grew up in the nearby city Saint Paul. His father was a barber of German descent, his mother a housewife with Norwegian roots. As a child, Schulz loved to draw, and took a correspondence course from Art Instruction Schools Inc. His uncle gave him the nickname "Sparky", in reference to Spark Plug, the horse from Billy DeBeck's 'Barney Google' comic. Reading Percy Crosby's 'Skippy', C.M. Payne's 'S'Matter Pop?' and Lank Leonard's 'Mickey Finn' shaped the gentle comedy in his work. Schulz's simple drawing style owed much to E.C. Segar, creator of 'Popeye'. The chicken scratch speech of Alice the Goon, for instance, inspired Woodstock's dialogue. He also regarded George Herriman's 'Krazy Kat' as the finest comic strip ever made, Schulz felt this was the level of sophistication he wanted to achieve. Other important graphic influences were Clare BriggsMilton CaniffAl CappRoy CraneTad DorganTack Knight and J.R. Williams. In terms of "high" art, he was fond of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth. Later in life, he expressed admiration for Murray BallDick BrunaRobert CrumbMort DruckerKevin FrankCathy GuisewhiteAl JaffeeLynn JohnstonWalt KellyBill MauldinPatrick McDonnellQuino and Bill Watterson.

As a pet, Schulz had a mixed breed beagle, called Spike. Just like Snoopy, the dog was quite unusual. It liked to eat indigestible things, such as pins, tacks, rubber balls and even razor blades. In 1937, 15-year old Schulz wrote about Spike to 'Ripley's Believe It or Not!', a comic feature by Robert Ripley collecting odd news stories, tall tales and trivia. To his thrill, both his letter and drawing were printed. Nevertheless, Schulz remembered his youth as a gloomy period. As an only child, he was shy and lonely. After skipping two half-grades at St. Paul's Richards Gordon Elementary School, he became the youngest pupil in his class. Other children bullied him. Schulz was no good at baseball, couldn't fly kites and had a secret unrequited crush on a red-haired girl. All the drawings he submitted to his high school yearbook were rejected. It all shaped his lifelong sense of alienation, inferiority and insecurity. Combined with his stoic wit, it formed the main ingredients for his 'Peanuts' strips.

Military service
Another traumatic experience happened in 1943, when his mother suddenly died from cancer. Schulz had no chance to say goodbye, nor time to cope with his grief, because he was drafted in the U.S. Army that very same week. There, he suffered from the same lonely feelings. During World War II, he served in Europe as a staff sergeant in a machine gun squad, making sketches in his spare time. Decorated after the war, Schulz always remained proud of his military service. He was close friends with cartoonist and fellow WWII veteran Bill Mauldin. From 6 June 1993 on, Schulz made annual D-Day memorial cartoons, usually depicting Snoopy as a soldier. On 16 October 1997, Schulz and his wife donated 1 million dollars for the construction of a D-Day memorial in Virginia.

Li'l Folks, by Charles Schulz, circa 1948
"Let's get out of here... this gives me the chills!" (Li'l Folks, 6 February 1949).

Early career
Back in civilian life, Schulz returned to Minneapolis. He found a job as letterer and translator at Timeless Topix, a Roman Catholic comic magazine. One of his tasks was translating English dialogue into French and Spanish, based on stencils he received, despite not understanding one word he copied. In July 1946, he worked part time as corrector at Art Instruction Inc., the correspondence course he took as a child. Among his colleagues were veteran artist Frank Wing and future cartoonist Linus Maurer, who later inspired the 'Peanuts' character Linus.

Li'l Folks
Schulz' colleagues at Art Instruction motivated him to build a cartoon series around a group of kids characters he had created. Between 8 June 1947 and 22 January 1950, they appeared under the title 'Li'l Folks' in the women's section of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Some were embryonic versions of the 'Peanuts' cast. There was a boy named Charlie Brown who owned a dog, albeit called Rover. A girl character was named Patricia Smith or Patty, and one of the boys was fond of Beethoven. Both Charlie and Patricia were named after people the cartoonist knew. Schulz signed his strip with his childhood nickname Sparky. Between 1948 and 1950, he additionally sold seventeen gag cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post. In early 1950, the newspaper refused to give him a raise, which motivated the cartoonist to end his strip. All episodes were collected posthumously in 'Charles M. Schulz: Li'l Beginnings' (Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, 2004). They also appeared in the final volume of 'The Complete Peanuts' (Fantagraphics, May 2016).

Early Peanuts, by Charles SchulzEarly Peanuts by Charles Schulz
An early Peanuts, by Charles Schulz.

While he was making 'Li'l Folks', the Walt Disney Studios offered Schulz a try-out. Schulz considered the offer, but didn't want to become a Hollywood factory wheel and turned them down. Instead, he decided to get a contract deal for 'Li'l Folks'. Editor Jim Freeman of United Features Syndicate was interested, but wanted Schulz to turn his cartoon into a four panel gag strip. He also insisted on a different title, since 'Li'l Folks' was too similar to Tack Knight's 'Li'l Folks' and Al Capp's 'Li'l Abner'. Inspired by the Peanut Gallery, the live children's audience in the TV show 'Howdy Doody', the syndicate suggested 'Peanuts'. Schulz didn't mind making a comic strip, but felt the four panel format limited his creativity. He also hated this new title, but was in no position to make demands. On 2 October 1950, the first episode of 'Peanuts' appeared in print.

The 'Li'l Folks' character Charlie Brown was part of the 'Peanuts' cast from the start. Much like later in the series, the other characters already disliked him. Yet in the early years it was much clearer why: he was just as mean as they were. Rover the dog was also recycled from Schulz's previous strip. He originally wanted to name him Sniffy, but Standard Comics already had a comic book series called 'Sniffy the Pup'. Remembering that his mother wanted to name their next dog Snoopy, he chose this name instead. Yet when Snoopy debuted in the third strip, on 4 October 1950, he still behaved like a normal dog. Prominent secondary characters during the early years were Patty, Violet and Shermy, but they were gradually overshadowed by characters with stronger personalities. Some permanent cast members were initially babies and toddlers, for instance Schroeder (introduced on 30 May 1951) and Lucy van Pelt (3 March 1952). On 14 July 1952, Lucy's baby brother Linus was born. It took until 19 September before he first appeared on screen. Within months, Schulz aged Schroeder, Lucy and Linus, so they could interact with Charlie Brown. 30 July 1954 marked the debut of Pig-Pen, a boy with the magical ability to get dirty within a second. Schulz later felt the character was too much of a gimmick. Readers however liked him, so he remained part of the cast, although with limited appearances.

'Peanuts' (7 April 1961).

Charlie Brown
Gradually, Schulz streamlined his strongest personalities, and established most of the running gags. On 21 December 1950, Charlie Brown was first seen in his iconic striped shirt. He evolved into a terribly unlucky and unpopular underdog. The other children constantly pick on him for being a failure. On 16 March 1951, Charlie played his first baseball match, but he can't motivate or organize his team. He is not only a bad trainer, but also a bad player. The ball constantly kicks him upside down or even out of his clothes. Charlie is no good at American football either. On 16 November 1952, the unlucky boy failed at kicking the ball for the first time. This became a running gag, mostly because Lucy pulls the ball away at the last minute. Another running gag is Charlie's inability to fly kites. The first time he tried to was on 25 April 1952. His attempts got even worse from April 1956 on, when his kites kept getting stuck in trees. The poor boy feels terribly disliked. Lucy calls him a "blockhead", a phrase first heard on 16 August 1951. At Halloween, his ghost costume is so bad that people don't give him sweets, only a rock. Nobody sends him Valentine cards. On 19 November 1961, he fell in love with a nameless "Little Red-Haired Girl", but never dared to approach her. Even Snoopy can't remember his owner's name and always calls him "that funny round-headed kid."

Charlie doesn't respond to the others' insults, but simply mutters catchphrases like "Good grief!" or "Aaaugh!", or moans against a tree. Charlie Brown is often interpreted as an alter ego for Schulz. Much of the cartoonist's own insecurities, worries and traumas are reflected in the character. But Schulz never understood why people called Charlie a "loser", because "a real loser would give up." Indeed, Charlie tries to make the best of his life, making the readers sympathize with him and turning him into the star of the series. Sometimes, he actually does succeed. His circle of friends might even be larger than he assumes. On 25 August 1958, it was revealed that he has a pen pal. In later episodes, Peppermint Patty and Marcie express their love for him. Whenever Charlie is not at home, even Lucy misses him strongly. Throughout the 1990s, he even had a regular girlfriend, called Peggy Jean.

Early Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, 1952
'Peanuts' (19 October 1952).

Lucy, Linus, Schroeder and Rerun
Other iconic cast members were also introduced during the first couple of years. Originally, Lucy Van Pelt was just a plain kind girl. But on 7 November 1952, only half a year after her debut, she turned into a self-declared "fuss-budget". She mocks, belittles, intimidates, discourages and beats others. Even spoiling other people's fun or destroying their stuff isn't beyond her. Lucy mostly ventilates her frustrations on Charlie, Snoopy and her kid brother Linus. It especially irks her that Linus is so attached to a piece of cloth he drapes across his shoulder, while sucking his thumb. Introduced on 1 June 1954, he calls it his "security blanket". Whenever it disappears or is taken away from him, he instantly panicks and acts like an addict going cold turkey. Nevertheless, the boy is very smart for his age, quoting the Bible and namedropping literary classics, although he stubbornly believes in naïve fantasies too. In the 6 October 1959 strip, he first expressed his love for his teacher Miss Othmar. He is convinced she is single and aware of his affections. Even when the others point out she is married, he refuses to believe them. On 26 October of that same year, Linus developed another ongoing delusion, built around a made-up holiday character, the Great Pumpkin. Every year, he waits in vain for his arrival at Halloween's Eve. Linus is also seen talking to trees and patting birds on their heads, which only adds to Lucy's hatred of her brother.

'Peanuts' (13 July 1957).

Despite her crabby behavior, Lucy sees herself as a reasonable person. On 27 March 1959, she set up her own psychiatric booth, often with the sign "the doctor is in" (first seen on 4 May 1961). Even her prominent victims often pay doctor Lucy a visit. Yet her advice is always unhelpful and her bills expensive. The only person Lucy rarely insults is Schroeder, with whom she is deeply in love. On 24 September 1951, Schulz first drew the boy behind his toy piano, inspired by a toy he bought for his daughter Meredith. As a bonus to people who can read musical notation, Schulz copied real scores whenever Schroeder played. The boy adores Beethoven and celebrates his birthday every December. From 30 May 1953 on, Lucy tries to win Schroeder's attention, but her ignorance of Beethoven and annoying habit to lean on his precious piano irritates him. Whenever she goes too far, he doesn't hesitate to pull the instrument out from under her. On 23 May 1972, Lucy and Linus got another brother, Rerun. Originally, Lucy disliked him just as much as Linus, but gradually she grew more fond and protective of him. A running gag, first seen on 21 January 1974, shows Rerun seated on the back of his mother's bike, terrified they might bump or fall. Since readers tended to confuse Rerun with Linus, Schulz didn't use him that much during the first decades. But by the late 1980s, he was featured almost as much as the regular cast.

'Peanuts' (28 January 1975).

Sally, Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin
Charlie Brown too received a younger sibling. On 26 May 1959, his sister Sally was born, first seen by readers on 23 August. Almost a year later, she developed a crush on Linus, whom she first nicknamed "my sweet baboo" on 27 January 1977. Yet he doesn't care about her. On 22 August 1966, another girl called Patty was introduced in the series. Schulz named her Peppermint Patty, a pun on the well-known dish. Her real name, Patricia Reinhardt, is rarely used. Much like Charlie Brown, Peppermint Patty is unlucky. She isn't very bright, has problems with her school work and often falls asleep behind her desk. Contrary to Charlie, though, she doesn't get discouraged. On 20 July 1971, Peppermint Patty received a sidekick, Marcie. The bespectacled girl with the serious expression is much brighter, offering Patty help and advice in situations beyond Patty's comprehension. At the same time, Marcie is embarrassed by Patty's naïvité. She can't help but make sarcastic remarks, though in the end, Patty always manipulates Marcie into helping her. Schulz named the characters after his cousin, Patricia Swanson, and his roommate, Elise Gallaway. In later decades, Peppermint Patty and Marcie were viewed by some as a lesbian couple. After all, they are always seen together, Patty has a "tomboy" look, Marcie often calls Patty "sir" and both were the first girls in 'Peanuts' to wear pants instead of skirts. It made them cult icons among the LGBT community, though the association was completely unintentional. In many gags, Patty and Marcie have a crush on Charlie Brown, to whom Patty refers as "Chuck". It is also not entirely clear whether Marcie names Patty "sir" out of respect or sarcasm. Either way, it irritates Patty tremendously.

On 15 April 1968, a week and a half after the assassination of Martin Luther King, L.A. school teacher Harriet Glickman sent two newspaper cartoonists a letter to ask them whether they could add a black character to their series. The first letter went to 'Mary Worth' artist Dale Conner, who was too scared his syndicate might drop the series. The second letter went to Schulz, who was interested, but unsure how to do it. After corresponding with Glickman, he designed Franklin, a black boy who could serve as a positive role model. Schulz too had to convince his editor. After much argueing, the cartoonist realized that he was famous and popular enough to simply tell his editor: "Either you print it the way I draw it, or I quit. How's that?" On 31 July 1968, Franklin debuted. Predictably, some racist readers complained, especially because the black kid was seen in the same classroom and house as the white kids. But Schulz simply ignored their nonsense. Most readers were pleased with Franklin's addition to the cast. In hindsight, the only problem was that, compared to the rest, he lacked a strong personality. In the 1990s, he received the last name Armstrong, in honor of African-American cartoonist Robb Armstrong.

First appearance of 'Snoopy' on 4 October 1950.

The most iconic character in 'Peanuts' is Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy. Originally a normal animal, he was gradually anthropomorphized. On 27 May 1952, he started expressing himself in thought balloons. It is implied that humans can't hear him, but they surely notice his increasingly strange behavior. On 19 October 1952, Snoopy invented his famous "hopping" dance and by 9 January 1956, he permanently walked upright. On 12 December 1958, Snoopy first slept on top of his doghouse, which became another iconic sight. Snoopy's escapes in obsessive fantasies became a running gag from 9 August 1951 on. On 12 July 1965, he first tried to write a novel, though he barely gets past the opening sentence: "It was a dark and stormy night" (a reference to Edward Bulwer-Lytton's 1830 novel 'Paul Clifford'). The mutt also claims to have a bond with writer Helen Sweetstory, first mentioned on 9 April 1971. Snoopy adopted several alter egos, such as a member of the French Foreign Legion (22 August 1965), a World War I pilot fighting the Red Baron (10 October 1965), a rebellious teen named Joe Cool (27 May 1971) and a "Beagle Scout" (14 May 1974). The beagle often imagines he is a completely different animal, most famously a vulture (first seen on 13 May 1958). Schulz once commented that he feels Snoopy's fantasies are what real dogs would think if they could, since they live such a monotone existence. Indeed, only Snoopy seems to believe his overactive imagination. The others act bewildered and try to confront him with reality, with Charlie frequently sighing: "Why can't I have a normal dog like everybody else?"

'Peanuts' (17 April 1966).

Once Snoopy became less dog-like, he quickly became the standout character. Readers loved his daft behavior or simply found him cute. On 25 April 1960, Lucy hugged him and said: "Happiness is a warm puppy", which became both a book title and an advertising slogan. On 4 April 1967, a little yellow bird became Snoopy's constant companion. Three years later, on 22 June 1970, it was named Woodstock, after the famous rock music festival. Readers could never decipher Woodstock's "chicken scratch" dialogue, except when Snoopy translated it. In the 1970s and 1980s, Schulz added more of Snoopy's family members. The most recognizable was his moustached older brother Spike, who debuted on 13 August 1975. In the 1980s, Spike was even given separate narratives without any of the other main cast members. By 1987, Schulz realized he had gone too far. The uniqueness of Snoopy was destroyed by an overabundance of cute, bi-pedal beagles. As a result, he only kept Spike.

'Peanuts' (17 April 1966).

Snoopy - criticism
Among 'Peanuts' fans, Snoopy is a polarizing character. Critics feel he doesn't fit in with the overall concept. The anxieties of Charlie and his friends are the original focus. Schulz created a realistic universe where their childhood problems are not only recognizable but also believable. Readers identify with the kids' sorrow. However, Snoopy's antics steal the spotlight. Since he can't talk, he can't interact with the children. All his actions and fantasies form separate storylines, making his episodes almost a spin-off within the 'Peanuts' comic. All the kids can do is be perplexed or annoyed observers. By the late 1960s, Snoopy's popularity had reached a point where the dog could almost carry the series on his own. There are enough gags to fill Snoopy-centered books and magazines. Most merchandising products focus on him. In translation, 'Peanuts' is often called 'Snoopy'. As a result, newcomers can misinterpret the comic as an average children's series about a cute, silly dog. Snoopy is happy and self-confident. As Charlie's pet, he has no responsibilities, worries or problems, contrasting the dog with the children's emotional problems.

Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, 1969
'Peanuts' (1969).

The most common heard criticism about Snoopy is that he destroyed the strip's plausible reality. He and his animal friends are able to communicate mentally, through thought balloons. Snoopy's doghouse is utterly illogical. The dog sleeps on the horizontal line of the roof, which defies all laws of gravity and would prove quite painful in real life. It is also bigger on the inside than it looks. On 29 February 1964, Snoopy even claimed to own an original Van Gogh painting. In general, the dog constantly does things normal dogs don't do. Linus and Schroeder also live in their own tiny minds, but Snoopy's delusions are strongly implied to be real. The children notice him walking on his hind legs, wearing costumes or typing novels. The dog even verges into physically impossible gags, like freezing in mid air during a jump. On 18 April 1967, he vanishes with only his smile remaining, just like the Cheshire Cat in 'Alice in Wonderland'. Critics feel that Snoopy's antics are so cartoony, that they cheapen the emotional bond Schulz had built up with his readers.

Nevertheless, the children also experienced occasional unrealistic gags. On 14 March 1965, Charlie Brown noticed that his kites are devoured by a "kite-eating tree". In one narrative, Sally has a mutual understanding with a sentient school building. When Lucy ridicules this, the building throws a brick on her head. In another gag, Charlie searches for his baseball glove, which deliberately hides from him. Once, Peppermint Patty accidentally erased her entire school desk. The musical notes from Schroeder's piano can interact with other characters or are found on the floor. Charlie Brown is literally knocked out of his clothes when baseballs fly by. And in one strange Sunday comic, Lucy floats in the air while blowing bubble gum.

Part of the 'Peanuts' Sunday of 1 February 1987.

Schulz debuted in a time when many papers downsized their comic pages, leaving less space for cartoonists to display elaborate artwork. Early Sunday 'Peanuts' episodes have detailed drawings with shadow work and different perspectives. Schulz gradually settled on a more minimalist style. Schulz was no virtuoso, which veteran cartoonists like Chester Gould and Al Capp mocked him for. All his child characters are variations on the same designs. Certain poses and backgrounds are always drawn in the same way. Sometimes characters just stand in a white void. His limited graphic skills also explain why the comedy is predominantly verbal. Schulz fully admitted there were things he simply couldn't draw convincingly, like Snoopy's doghouse and cats. Snoopy's home is always shown in side view, while the neighborhood cat remains offscreen. In the same way, Schulz quit drawing a full baseball field, so he could leave out spectators and the opposing team. During the first five years, he sometimes drew adults, but had trouble fitting them next to the kids. Eventually all parents, relatives, teachers or salespeople became offscreen characters. Likewise, all dialogue with adults is never shown, only the children's reactions to them.

Schulz's graphical limits proved a perfect answer to the papers' downsizing. Since 'Peanuts' relies heavily on dialogue, the strips could easily be printed in a small size, even on top or at the bottom of a page, or next to text articles. Thematically, the minimalism suited Schulz too. The cartoonist wanted his comic to reflect a children's view of the world. Their universe is rarely bigger than their own neighborhood. The repetitive backgrounds and lack of adults add to the isolation. Most newspaper comics at the time went for simple laughs and thrills. 'Peanuts', however, has a melancholic undertone. Its punchlines are often bittersweet. Most comics at the time depicted kids as either nice angels or sneaky tricksters. In 'Peanuts', they are far more three-dimensional. They feel despair, guilt, uncertainty and loneliness, and deal with failure or rejection. All feel overwhelmed by problems beyond their control. Schulz once said: "(...) Children see more than we think they do, but at the same time almost never seem to know what is going on." Like real children, they are so self absorbed that they insult and bully each other. Italian writer and critic Umberto Eco once described 'Peanuts' as follows: "These children affect us, because they're monsters. They are the monstrous, infantile reductions of all the neuroses of modern citizens of the industrial civilization."

'Peanuts' (29 March 1981).

On the other hand, Charlie and his friends are basically mini adults. They go to school and play outside, but their dialogue is quite mature. They use language and references most children at their age aren't familiar with. Linus, for instance, quotes biblical passages from the top of his head. The kids philosophize about life, moral choices and their future. Yet some of their opinions are laughably simple-minded or mean-spirited. Again, much like children... but also adults. Interestingly enough, Schulz wasn't the only U.S. newspaper cartoonist in the late 1940s and 1950s who made comics about children acting like adults: Jules Feiffer's 'Clifford' (1949-1951) and Sam Brier's 'General Mischief' (1947-1949), 'Stevie' (1951-1952) and 'Small World' (1952-1956) are very similar. Given their small circulation, it seems unlikely that Schulz was aware of them.

Many elements in 'Peanuts' were autobiographical. Schulz named several characters after friends, relatives, colleagues and pets. Some gags, like Linus asking Lucy in 1961: "Am I buttering too loud for you?", were inspired by things his own children said. Incidents from his youth and personal life found their way into his work. His depressions and personal neuroses were reflected in his characters. In 1972, Schulz had an extramarital affair, which led to his divorce. His depression and anger were ventilated in several Charlie and Lucy gags. Snoopy was the self confident individual without worries Schulz wanted to be. The cartoonist famously watched 'Citizen Kane' 40 times during his lifetime. The story of a billionnaire who reaches the top, but gets increasingly isolated and melancholic spoke to him tremendously. Still, 'Peanuts' never became so bleak that Schulz lost his sense of comedy. All the personal elements never turned the strip into an incomprehensible inside joke. The intellectualism and philosophies never felt pretentious or preachy. Its sophistication appealed to adults without losing child readers. And although 'Peanuts' became a mass merchandized product, Schulz managed to keep it authentic.

'Peanuts' (1 August 1975).

Cultural and timely references
Although 'Peanuts' is overall timeless, some gags referenced media celebrities or events of the day. In 1954, the kids express fondness for children's TV host Miss Frances. After the 1972 Olympics, medal-winning gymnast Olga Korbut was namedropped, and in 1984 Snoopy wondered about the upcoming "Orwellian" year. Schulz often mentioned people he admired, like general/president Dwight D. Eisenhower, radio journalist Ernie Pyle and the film 'Citizen Kane'. His characters talk about the same writers (Rachel Carson, F. Scott Fitzgerald), sports people (Billie Jean King, Joe Garagiola) and artists (Andrew Wyeth, Bill Mauldin). In a 19 April 1955 gag, Charlie Brown reads Walt Kelly's 'Pogo'. After being spoofed in Mad Magazine a few times, Schulz gave their mascot Alfred E. Neuman a cameo in the 5 July 1973 gag. On 6 February 1989, he mentioned Bill Watterson's 'Calvin & Hobbes'. These throwaway jokes worked well in the papers, but sometimes had to be altered and updated in reprints. In foreign translations, they were changed anyway. On rare occasions, Schulz didn't allow certain gags to be reprinted. A 1954 gag, for example, has a boy rave about Charlie's collection of war comics, mentioning 'Korean War Comics' as the latest title. Charlie then says: "The next issue has really got me worried." A punchline that became too dark a decade later, when the Vietnam War broke out. Many of these removed gags are collected in the book 'Unseen Peanuts' (Fantagraphics, May 2007), with commentary by author Kim Thompson.

'Peanuts' originally ran in only seven newspapers, two of which dropped it within the first six months. By 6 January 1952, it received a weekly Sunday page. Thanks to the editor-in-chief of the publishing company – a fan from the first hour – a compilation book was released by Rinehart that same year. By the late 1950s, 'Peanuts' became a cultural phenomenon. In 1966, when Snoopy's doghouse burned to the ground, many readers expressed their condoleances. They were equally worried when Charlie spent time in the hospital and was absent for weeks. Schulz reached a very diverse audience while still offering a sophisticated comic strip. In most languages, the original title was kept intact, though sometimes the strip was named after Charlie or, more commonly, Snoopy. It ran in Dutch, French, German ('Die Peanuts'), Danish ('Radiserne'), Norwegian ('Knøttene'), Swedish ('Snobben'), Finnish ('Tenavat'), Icelandic ('Smáfólkið'), Italian (originally as 'Pierino', the name of Charlie Brown), Polish ('Fistaszki'), Spanish ('Carlitos', named after Charlie Brown, 'Rabanitos'), Brazilian-Portuguese ('Menduim'), Hungarian, Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese.

'Peanuts' comic book story, drawn by Charles Schulz (Nancy #146).

Peanuts comic books
While most famous as a newspaper gag-a-day comic, 'Peanuts' also appeared in comic book series. From 1952 on, reprints ran as filler strips in Tip Top Comics, Tip Topper Comics, United Comics, Sparkle, Sparkler, Fritzi Ritz and the one-shot Comics on Parade: Peanuts, comic books published subsequently by United Features Syndicate (1952-1954) and St. John Publishing (1955-1957). Western Publishing then took over these titles under its Dell imprint. At this occasion, Schulz produced new and exclusive 'Peanuts' comic book stories, all short stories of four to eight pages long. Schulz wrote and drew about seven of those stories himself. All the other ones were created by assistants hired specifically for this job: subsequently Jim SassevilleDale Hale and Tony Pocrnick. This explains why the tone is different compared to the newspaper comics. Backgrounds and characters can appear off-model, and the stories are mostly child-oriented. After three issues in Dell's 'Four Color Comics' series, 'Peanuts' got its own title, which ran for ten issues between 1960 and 1962. Western's Gold Key comics line continued the 'Peanuts' comic books until 1964, but then filled with reprints. In 2016, the 'Peanuts' comic book stories created by Schulz himself (through identification by Jim Sasseville), were included in the final installment of the 'Complete Peanuts' series by Fantagraphics.

Merchandise and licensed use
Over the years, the 'Peanuts' characters, and particularly Snoopy, have appeared on tons of merchandise and licensed products. Assistants like Frank Hill and Mark Lasky were tasked with producing the related artwork. As early as 1955, the 'Peanuts' characters were featured in a instructional booklet for the Kodak Brownie camera. Two years later, they appeared in animated form to promote Ford automobiles. In 1958, the Hungerford Plastics Corporation released the first vinyl dolls with the characters. By 1960, Hallmark brought out their famous 'Peanuts' greeting cards and party goods. Worldwide, over 20,000 new products were released with 'Peanuts' characters, including clothing, plush toys of Snoopy, Thermos bottles, lunch boxes, picture frames, and music boxes. Products the characters have promoted are Dolly Madison snack cakes, Chex Mix snacks, Bounty paper towels, Kraft macaroni cheese and A&W Root Beer. Since 1984, many 'Snoopy' video games have hit the market, both for PC, gaming consoles and mobile phones.

Animation cell by Bill Melendez from 'Someday You'll Find Her, Charlie Brown' (1981).

In 1965, animator/director Bill Melendez (who also did the Ford ads) and producer Lee Mendelson adapted the comic strip into a long-running animated series, starting off with a holiday TV special, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas'. The album containing Vince Guaraldi's jazz soundtrack became so iconic that in 2012 it was inducted in the National Recording Registry. Dale Hale illustrated a book based on the special. Much to everybody's surprise, 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' received high ratings, several awards and is still repeated annually on U.S. television. It motivated other TV stations to produce their own animated holiday specials. Melendez made several other productions with the 'Peanuts' characters. Some were released as TV specials, others as theatrical animated features. Among the people worked on them were Art Babbitt, Rumen PetkovBørge Ring, Frank A. Smith, Reuben Timmins and Cliff Voorhees. Notable about these cartoons was that they were all voiced by real children. One of them, Stacey Ferguson, became famous in adulthood as Fergie, lead singer of the pop group The Black Eyed Peas. In 2012, to coincide with the release of a new 'Peanuts’ animated TV special, 'Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown’, Boom Studios released a special 'Peanuts’ four-issue comic book series, with stories based on and inspired by the special.  They were scripted by Vicki Scott and Shane Houghton and drawn by Bob Scott, Vicki Scott and Matt Whitlock

In 1967, 'Peanuts' was also adapted into a Broadway musical, 'You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown' (1967), with music and lyrics by Clark Gesner. It was a success from the start and has been regularly restaged since. 'Snoopy! The Musical' (1975), by Hal Hackady and Larry Grossman, met with similar popularity and longevity. An iTunes animated series, 'Peanuts Motion Comics' was launched in 2010, and a French-Italian-American animated TV series, 'Peanuts' (2014), was produced by Alexis Lavillat.  A well-received CGI animated film, 'The Peanuts Movie (2015)', was directed by Steve Martino. DHX Media produced a 2019 Flash-animated special, 'Snoopy in Space'.

Longevity, syndication and wealth records
Charles M. Schulz drew his daily 'Peanuts' comic for more than 49 years straight, from 2 October 1950 to 13 February 2000. Only in late 1997, when he took a five-week vacation (his first ever), the papers relied on reprints. While he used assistants for the 1957-1962 comic book publications, the original newspaper comic was completely written and drawn by Schulz himself. In terms of longevity, Schulz is ahead of the Belgian cartoonist Marc Sleen, who drew the daily newspaper comic 'Nero' singlehandedly for 45 years. Schulz's 'Peanuts' is however behind Frank Dickens' 'Bristow' (51 years), Ed Payne's 'Billy the Boy Artist' (56 years), Fred Lasswell's 'Barney Google' (59 years), Jim Russell's 'The Potts' (62 years) and Russ Johnson's 'Mr. Oswald' (62 years, but then monthly). While Schulz isn't the longest-running newspaper cartoonist of all time, he does have another record to his name. At the height of its syndication, 'Peanuts' was the most widespread comic strip on Earth, running in more than 75 countries and 26 languages. In 1984, it was sold to the 2.600th newspaper, earning it a mention in the Guinness Book of Records. This record still stands to this day.

During his lifetime, Schulz was also the richest cartoonist in the world. Annually he earned up 30 to 40 million dollars! On 28 April 1969, he was able to open his own ice arena, the Redwood Empire in his new hometown, Santa Rosa, California. In 1974, he pressured his syndicate to receive complete control over the creative content and licensing. It gave him a privileged position most cartoonists can only dream about. However, he couldn't buy the copyright to 'Peanuts' back. Only later it was stated by law that after twenty years, the rights return to the creator. Since 'Peanuts' was created before this law, it didn't apply to 'Peanuts'. In 1977, Schulz negotiated with United Features about a bigger owner's share. Out of fear Schulz might drop 'Peanuts', the syndicate had Al Plastino create a few try-outs as a possible replacement. But in the end, Schulz signed his new contract and the Plastino episodes were never used. Naturally, Schulz was furious when he learned about these secret deals. Another downside to his fame and wealth was that on 8 May 1988, two criminals attempted to kidnap his wife. They had just entered the house when Schulz' daughter Jill drove up the parking lot. The bandits panicked and ran off before any harm could be done. Remarkably enough, even in death Schulz remains the wealthiest cartoonist of all time. Since 2001, he has consistently been in Forbes' Top 13 of "highest-paid dead celebrities" worldwide. He is the only cartoonist in that list, amidst entertainers from the world of music, novels, sports, fashion and film. He always ranks on the Top 2, 3 or 4 spot. Only in 2009, he briefly sank to the sixth place.

'Peanuts' (10 May 1988).

Despite being an inoffensive comic, Schulz received letters of complaint during his career. Between 30 November 1954 and February 1955, a loud-mouthed girl named Charlotte Braun appeared in the 'Peanuts' strip. Readers disliked this annoying character so much that Schulz had to drop her for good. However, he couldn't resist to reply to one particular stingy letter by a certain Elizabeth Swaim, telling her: "You... will have the death of an innocent child on your conscience...". He additionally drew Braun with an axe in her head. As mentioned earlier, even the introduction of black boy Franklin led to complaints. However, most angry letters were about religious references. Quite a number of people didn't like the 20 October 1963 Sunday Page in which Sally tells Linus a "secret": namely that they "prayed in school today" (forced school prayer had been deemed unconstitutional in the U.S. a few months earlier). Schulz was also accused of sacrilege when he had Linus mention Daniel in the lion's den to distract his teacher (30 April 1965). Similar complaints followed about a Sunday episode where Lucy scolds Linus that his biblical recitation went on too long (21 December 1969), Snoopy calling sacrificing lambs animal cruelty (24 November 1985) and Charlie Brown reading the story of David hitting Goliath with a stone, causing Sally to ask: "What did Goliath's mom say about that?" (10 May 1988).

Before 'Peanuts', most mainstream comics never referenced religion, since it was such a touchy subject. Schulz was arguably the first U.S. newspaper cartoonist to have his characters frequently quote the Bible. Some readers misunderstood this as mocking faith. In reality, Schulz was a devout Christian. He taught Sunday school at Sebastopol for 12 years. He also made one religious cartoon feature, 'Young Pillars' (1956-1965) for Youth, a Church of God magazine. A book about the spirituality in his work, 'The Gospel According to Peanuts' (1965) by Robert L. Short, was a bestseller and did a lot to popularize 'Peanuts' among religious people. Whenever priests asked him to use specific gags in their sermons or Christian publications, Schulz always gave them permission. Schulz himself was mostly interested in Bible analysis and very open to other people's opinions and religious convictions. As Schulz grew older, he didn't go to Church that often and referred to himself as a "secular humanist". Some of the later 'Peanuts' gags even have characters question faith, though always with hope there might be something more.

'Young Pillars'.

Being such an iconic comic strip made 'Peanuts' an unavoidable target for parody. Mad Magazine were probably the earliest and most frequent satirists. Schulz felt honored by their spoofs. On at least two occasions, he sent a congratulatory letter and cartoon, published in issue #99 (December 1965) and 125 (March 1969). In issue #89 (September 1964), where cartoonists were invited to make a "comic strip they'd really like to do", Schulz made a contribution, while in the same article, Ken Ernst and Allen Saunders (of 'Mary Worth' fame) made an exclusive 'Peanuts' parody with Mary Worth. In the Danish newspaper Politiken, cartoonist Bo Bojesen satirized the Danish government in his comic series 'Kultur-radiserne' (1960-1962). He based the name of his feature on the Danish 'Peanuts' title: 'Radiserne'. 'Peanuts' parodies can also be spotted in Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas' 'Sam's Strip', F'murr's 'Le Génie des Alpages', and cartoons by Wolinski in Charlie Hebdo and Paul Coker in Hugh Hefner's Playboy. In honor of Schulz, Dutch artist Ge Wasco drew 'Apenootjes' (1989), a more absurd take on 'Peanuts' with literally translated character names. In Raw issue #2 (May 1990), Robert Sikoryak combined Charlie Brown with Franz Kafka's story 'The Metamorphosis'.

Schulz often took legal action against unauthorized parodies, especially offensive ones. In the late 1960s, crude bootleg posters were made of a pregnant Lucy yelling: "Damn you, Charlie Brown!". They were quickly removed from the market. In 1976, Marion Vidal wrote a respectful essay titled 'Monsieur Schulz et ses Peanuts' (Albin Michel, 1976). Since the author couldn't get permission to use original material, he asked several cartoonists to make parody versions of the characters, namely André-François BarbeCaraliYves GotGregMarcel Gotlib, Pierre Kerleroux, Harvey KurtzmanClaude LacroixPatrice LeconteJean-Jacques LoupLucquesJay LynchJean-Claude MézièresMoebiusJean MulatierGilles Nicoulaud, Jaume Perich, René PétillonJacques Rampal, Jean Rouzaud, Gilbert SheltonJean SoléPhilippe SoulasJoost SwarteJacques Tardi, Vazquez de Sola, Willem and Georges Wolinski. Many took a subversive route, including one gag by Jacques Tardi in which Snoopy is disemboweled. Schulz sued and the book was banned for a while, but in court, the judge agreed it was clearly satire and Vidal won his case. Jim Reardon made the animated short 'Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown' (1986), which spoofed the violent westerns directed by Sam Peckinpah. Schulz was once invited to see this crass college humor cartoon and merely said afterwards: "Very clever, very funny, but just don't do it again, okay?" Bert V. Royal made a subversive play 'Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead' (2004), in which the 'Peanuts' characters are degraded.

Introduction of 'It's Only A Game' in the Tucson Daily Citizen on 4 November 1957.

Young Pillars
Even though 'Peanuts' took up most of Schulz' time, at the start of his career he made two other long-running features. The first was 'Young Pillars' (1956-1965), a one-panel gag cartoon series which ran bi-weekly in Youth, a magazine published by the Church of God. The protagonists are tall youngsters, with faces reminiscent of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Sally, Marcie, Linus and Peppermint Patty. The comedy refers to spiritual matters, but in a teenage context. Youth reran 'Young Pillars' for decades, though sometimes with rewritten or updated captions. In 1969, Schulz made five similar and additional gag cartoons for Reach magazine. 'Young Pillars' and other teen cartoons by Schulz are available in 'Schulz's Youth' (About Comics, 2007), which has a foreword by Jerry Scott.

It's Only A Game
On 3 November 1957, Schulz launched a sports cartoon panel, 'It's Only A Game' (1957-1959), also syndicated by United Features. Most of the gags involve adults and children playing a variety of sports and games, such as baseball, ping pong or bridge. Though, despite the title, some cartoons are about hobbies in general, like camping. 'It's Only a Game' ran on three weekdays and on Sundays, always with one day in between. Schulz only wrote and drew it for a month, after which he passed the pencil to his assistant Jim Sasseville. Sasseville drew all gags for a year and two months, but never received credit. In 1959, Schulz suddenly decided to drop 'It's Only Game', because he found it difficult to combine with 'Peanuts'. On 11 January 1959, the final episode appeared in print. Suddenly without a job, Sasseville felt so disrespected that he ended his collaboration with Schulz. The two never spoke to one another again. A complete collection of 'It's Only a Game' was edited and published by Derrick Bang in 2004. A new edition, 'It's Only a Game: The Complete Color Collection' was released by CreateSpace in 2013, with Sasseville receiving cover credit.

Charles M. Schulz in Mad Magazine #89 (September 1964).

Graphic and written contributions
Besides cartoons, Schulz also illustrated occasional books. He made the drawings for two of Art Linkletter's books based on the popular TV show 'Kids Say the Darndest Things' (1957, 1961), in which children give naïve, innocent and unintentionally funny answers to interview questions. Schulz also livened up the pages of Bill Adler's 'Dear President Johnson' (1964), a collection of letters to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, as well as 'Tennis Love: A Parent's Guide to the Sport' (1978) by Billie Jean King. Schulz was one of several cartoonists invited to make "a comic strip they'd really like to do", published in issue #89 (September 1964) of Mad Magazine. Schulz contributed a gag comic about a falling leaf. In issue #4 of The New York Giants Magazine (1986), Schulz made an exclusive 'Peanuts' gag in promotion of the baseball team. Schulz wrote the forewords to Johnny Hart's 'Hey! B.C.' (Fawcett, 1959), Brad Anderson's 'The Marmaduke Treasury' (Grendel Books, 1978), the U.S. edition of Murray Ball's 'Footrot Flats. Volume 1' (Orin Books, 1992), Bill Watterson's 'The Essential Calvin and Hobbes' (The Book Store, 1995) and Al Jaffee's 'Fold This Book!' (EC Comics, 1997).

'Dear President Johnson' and 'Kids Say the Darndest Things'. 

In addition to his military insignia, Schulz received numerous awards for his comics. The National Cartoonists Society bestowed him with the Elzie Segar Award (1980), two general Reuben Awards (1955, 1964) and the Reuben for "Best Humor Strip of the Year" (1962). Schulz is one of the few cartoonists to win the Reuben Award more than once, a feat only parallelled by Dik BrownePat OliphantChester GouldJeff MacNellyGary Larson and Bill Watterson. He additionally won an Inkpot Award (1974), a Sparky Award (1998) and a posthumous Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award (2000). He was inducted in the Cartoonist Hall of Fame (1986) and the Harvey Kurtzman Hall of Fame (2014). He was named Cartoonist of the Year by Yale University (1958) and the International Pavilion of Humor in Montreal (1978). Because of the many sports references in his comics, Schulz received the Lester Patrick Trophy (1981) and was inducted in both the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame (1993) and the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame (2007). Snoopy was given a Life Master title by the American Contract Bridge League (1997).

Schulz was additionally given the School Bell Award by the National Education Society (1960), a honorary degree from Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana (1963), a honorary doctor of humane letters degree from St. Mary's College, California (1966) and a Certificate of Merit by the Art Director's Club of New York (1967). Other honors were the Big Brother of the Year Award (1973), Grand Marshal of the Tournament Roses (1974), Golden Plate Award (1980), Silver Buffalo Award (1988), the French Commandeur dans L'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (1990), the Italian Order of Merit (1992) and a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal (2001). On 28 June 1996, Charles M. Schulz was the first comic artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Snoopy received a star there too (2 November 2015), as the only character originating from a comic strip. On 17 May 2001, 'Peanuts' was honored with an official U.S. postal stamp.

Final years and death
In 1981, Schulz underwent a heart bypass surgery. None other than U.S. President Ronald Reagan phoned him to wish him well. The operation was a success, but left tremors in Schulz' drawing hand. To keep it from shaking, he often had to steady his drawing arm with the other. Although it made drawing less easy and produced a wavy look, he carried on. By November 1999, several small strokes and a diagnosis with colon cancer forced the cartoonist to retire. Since all newspaper comics have a two to three month advance of their publications, the final daily comic appeared in print on 3 January 2000, and the final Sunday comic on 13 February of that year. By sad coincidence, Schulz died the night before the final 'Peanuts' gag appeared in print, making his goodbye to the readers an unintentional "In Memoriam". 'Peanuts' not only ended after almost half a century, but also marked the end of the 20th century. Since Schulz put so much of himself in his work, it was almost prophetic that he died as soon as it was concluded. On 27 May 2000, a great many U.S. newspaper cartoonists paid homage to 'Peanuts' by referencing the series in their own comics.

Peanuts family by Charles Schulz

Legacy and influence
In nearly fifty years, Charles M. Schulz proved that even a simple four-panel gag comic could express thought-provoking, philosophical themes. Many humor cartoonists have cited 'Peanuts' as an important influence. Some merely used the series an inspiration to create a wacky pet or a group of child characters. Others used these archetypes to provide satirical commentary. In the U.S. 'Peanuts' influenced Morrie Turner's 'Wee Pals', Brumsic Brandon's 'Luther', Dick Cavalli's 'Winthrop', Bill Watterson's 'Calvin & Hobbes', Wes Alexander's 'Stormfield', Gary BarkerTom BelandBerkeley BreathedDik BrowneDan CollinsJim DavisMort DruckerAlexis FajardoMatt FurieGuy GilchristBill GriffithMatt Groening (Akbar and Jeff in 'Life in Hell' started out as badly drawn Charlie Browns), Keith HaringPatrick McDonnellTony Millionaire, Mark Parisi, Stephan Pastis, Dav Pilkey, Bill PlymptonJohn R. RoseJim ScancarelliRick TulkaKevin Frank and Chris Ware. In Canada he was an inspiration to John Kricfalusi and Seth, in Argentina to Quino and Liniers. Followers of his work can also be found in Indonesia (Dwi Koendoro), China (Alfonso Wong), Australia (Martin Brown) and New Zealand (Murray BallDylan Horrocks).

In Europe, 'Peanuts' is even more popular. Some comic magazines in the 1960s and 1970s were named after the characters, namely Linus in Italy (since 1965) and Charlie Mensuel (1969-1986) and Charlie Hebdo (since 1970) in France. Interestingly enough, they all geared to adult audiences and even featured non-family friendly content. In the UK, 'Peanuts' influenced Derek Chittock's 'Benny' and Maurice Dodd's 'The Perishers', as well as the work of John Riordan. In France, Schulz was an inspiration to F'murrGeorges Wolinski and Claire Bretécher (especially her series 'Les Gnagnan'). In Belgium, Schulz was admired by Vincent DeporterAndré FranquinTibetMerhoErik Meynen and especially Jean Roba and Midam. In the 1970s Ever Meulen often gave Snoopy a cameo on the covers he made for Humo magazine. Many Snoopy elements are incorporated in the dog Bill from Roba's gag comic 'Boule et Bill'. Charlie Brown and Snoopy even have a cameo in the episode 'Globe-Trotters'. In the Netherlands, 'Peanuts' influences can be spotted in the work of Martin LodewijkWindig & De JongFrank HollanderPeter Koch and Wilma van den Bosch. In Czechoslovakia, Gene Deitch's 'Maly Svet' was obviously influenced, and in Italy, 'Peanuts' inspired Alfredo Chiappori and Guido Crepax. Monte Beauchamp included Schulz in his book 'Masterful Marks: Cartoonists Who Changed The World' (Simon & Schuster, 2014), where the cartoonist's life story was adapted in comic strip form by Italian illustrator Sergio Ruzzier. 

The Italian magazine Linus and French magazine Charlie Mensuel based their names on 'Peanuts' characters and naturally featured them on the cover and inside their pages.

Cultural impact
The cultural impact of 'Peanuts' goes beyond comics alone. In 1966, the Royal Guardsmen recorded the novelty hit 'Snoopy vs. the Red Baron' (1966). John Lennon wrote the Beatles song 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' (1968), after reading this line in a U.S. weapon magazine, unaware that it was a pun on Schulz's 'Happiness Is A Warm Puppy'. It is often believed that The Coasters based their song 'Charlie Brown' (1959) on 'Peanuts', though in their case they just picked a generic name. However, the song 'Charlie Brown' (1974) by Brazilian musician Benito di Paula was a homage to the character. The song was covered in 1975 by the Belgian pop band Two Man Sound. Nelly Kokinos released a piano album titled 'Schroeder's Greatest Hits' (1992). Because she was once namedropped in the comic strip, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich wrote a 12-minute piano concerto, called 'Peanuts Gallery' (1997). Both The Grateful Dead member Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, U.S. emo rock band The Van Pelt and U.S. rapper Snoop Dogg based their names on 'Peanuts' characters. Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, had a soft spot for Linus. When Danny Sugarman, president of the Doors Fan Club, told him he knew the child who voiced Linus on the animated series, Stephen Shea, Morrison wanted to meet him and allowed him to attend a Doors concert. The Green Music Center at Sonoma State University has a recital hall named after Schroeder, because Schulz and his wife were affiliated with the university.

On 18 May 1969, the command and lunar module for the Apollo 10 moon mission were named Charlie Brown and Snoopy. A NASA medal is named the Silver Snoopy Award. Theme parks have also licensed Snoopy and his friends, starting with the 'Camp Snoopy' area in Knott's Berry Farm in Souther California in 1983. Snoopy later became the official mascot of the Cedar Fair Entertainment Company amusement parks, where Planet Snoopy areas have been opened since 2008. A statue of Snoopy stands in the main office of Central High School in Saint Paul. Snoopy is also the mascot for U.S. airforce squadrons, the U.S. government Energy Conservation Symbol (1973) and the insurance company MetLife (1985-2016). In the late 1960s and early 1970s, many Americans wrote 'Snoopy' as their presidential candidate. The word "security blanket" was popularized and added to the dictionary thanks to Linus. The Belgian film director Robbe De Hert once explained that his habit of wearing a towel over his shoulder was a tribute to Linus. When Bulgarian conceptual artist Christo (famous for wrapping up monuments) noticed he was referenced in a 'Peanuts' comic, he sent Schulz a wrapped doghouse.

Charles M. Schulz remains a legend. Old episodes are still reprinted, while 'Peanuts' merchandising is still produced. His name lives on in the annual Sparky Awards for cartoonists (the Charles M. Schulz Outstanding Cartoonist Award), as well as the Charles M. Schulz airport in Sonoma, California (2000). On 17 August 2002 the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center was opened in Santa Rosa, California. On 17 June 1971, "Peanuts Day" was declared in San Diego, followed by the state California on 13 February 2000. Since 2000, St. Paul, Minnesota, organizes an annual 'Peanuts' city parade.

Book about Charles M. Schulz
Between 2004 and 2016, Fantagraphics Books collected the entire 'Peanuts' run in 26 volumes of 'The Complete Peanuts', edited by Gary Groth, with a stylish design by the Canadian cartoonist Seth and extensive background articles. Each volume has a foreword by a celebrity, mostly cartoonists, but also actors (Whoopi Goldberg, Alec Baldwin), novelists (Jonathan Franzen), film directors (John Waters), sportspeople (Billie Jean King) and U.S. president Barack Obama. Many biographies have been written about Charles M. Schulz. 'Good Grief' (Pharos Books, 1989) by Rhea Grimsley Johnson, is the only authorized one. M. Thomas Inge's 'Conversations with Charles M. Schulz' (University Press, Mississippi, 2000) features insightful interviews. His widow Jean Schulz provided the foreword to Chip Kidd's 'Peanuts: The Art of Charles M. Schulz' (Abrams ComicArts, 2001, revised in 2015), which won an Eisner Award. Also recommended is David Michaelis' 'Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography' (Harper, 2007). 'The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life' (Library of America, 2019) features essays and articles by 33 writers and artists about the depths and impact of 'Peanuts', among them Umberto Eco, Jonathan Franzen, Seth and Chris Ware.

Charles Schulz with Charlie Brown (Photo: Roger Higgins).


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