Saturday, March 6, 2010


From UFS Inc.

Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000. The strip is considered to be one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it "arguably the longest story ever told by one human being," according to Professor Robert Thompson of Syracuse University. At its peak, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of 355 million in 75 countries, and was translated into 21 languages. On a deeper more meaningful level, Peanuts could very well have been one of the first, if not the only comic, that explored and disected the influence of socialism amongst the youth of America.
Whether you loved the famous Charles Schultz characters and animated comic strip for its view of adults and the world from a childs mind, or simply for the comedic exchanges between each notable character, thoughts of a trombone sounding teacher and a thumb sucking child who found utter security in his blue blanket, ultimately bring nostalgic memories of the innocence of youth and simpler days to all who grew up in the 50's - 70's era.

Charles Schulz, American cartoonist, 1956
Source Library of Congress
New York World-Telegram & Sun Collection
Author Roger Higgins
From Wikipedia

Portrait of American cartoonist Charles Schulz
seated at his drawing table, pen in hand, circa 1960
creator of the Peanuts comic strip series
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From Ask Mr Pop History


Charles Schulz wrote and drew Peanuts for 49 years and 4 months (1950-2000). The stars of the strip are Charlie Brown, whom Schulz named for a fellow instructor at the Art School of Minneapolis, and Snoopy, his dog.
The strip originated as Li'l Folks, a feature Schulz drew for his hometown newspaper. The strip's cast grew as time went on - sort of; consensus is their age topped out at about 6 (Linus and Sally) to 8 (Charlie Brown, Lucy et al.) - but adults were always conspicuous by their absence, famously represented by unintelligible offscreen 'wah-whah' noises in the TV specials. When the kids aren't in school, they're usually playing baseball or having conversations while leaning on a brick wall.
Over the years, the strip became famous for its psychological realism, bordering on an all-out satire of more typically sentimental kiddie comics, though it arguably took a turn away from the philosophical toward more direct comedy relatively early in its run (around 1970). Charlie Brown developed from a standard 'loveable loser' into a sensitive and intelligent Everyman, whose relentless track record of failure meant he struggled perpetually with the Really Big Questions. Alternately aiding and exasperating him in his quest were his best friend Linus, a philosopher who sucked his thumb and carried a security blanket, and Linus' big sister Lucy, a bossy, brassy self-described 'fussbudget' who already knew what the universe's problem was: It never asked her what to do.

From UFS Inc.

From UFS Inc.

Schulz cared about the human condition. He wasn’t a clown. He wasn’t a pessimist. He was an expressionist, expressing the infinite pathways of frustrations and thoughts figure-eighting in our heads. He erred on the side of expressing his inner dialogues. And whether or not he lived a life that was effected by serious depression, few people have created so much joy for so many people. Even if he was regularly depressed, he spent his life leaving behind artworks that are powerful forces against the forces of depression, isolation, psychosis, loneliness, and sadness.
His art speaks for itself. His art speaks for him. It says volumes about who he was as a man. He found that speaking adult concerns through the mouths of babes could be funny, enlivening, and something towards “truth” with a lower case “t.”
The life of "Peanuts" and Charles Schulz were completely intertwined. "The strip and he were one," said Patrick McDonnell, who draws the cartoon "Mutts." "He put his heart and soul into that strip." "Peanuts," made Mr. Schulz very rich. The "Peanuts" strips, merchandise and product endorsements brought in $1.1 billion a year. And Mr. Schulz was said to have earned about $30 million to $40 million annually.
His saga of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and Linus "is arguably the longest story ever told by one human being," Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, observed on the PBS "NewsHour" with Jim Lehrer, longer than any epic poem, any Tolstoy novel, any Wagner opera.
(SARAH BOXER The New York Times Company)

From UFS Inc.

Peppermint Patty
From World Wide Art

From UFS Inc.

From World Wide Art

"I would have made a good Sheep Dog.."
April 25, 1971
From UFS Inc.

From UFS Inc.

Jules Feiffer, the cartoonist and playwright, said that the "Peanuts" characters endure because they were the first real children in the comics pages, ones with doubts and anxieties. And there were a lot of them. "Linus, Lucy, Charlie Brown -- these interesting little people formed a repertory company," he said.
The cast of "Peanuts" changed remarkably little.
It included Charlie Brown, a wishy-washy boy with a tree-loving kite and a losing baseball team; Snoopy, an unflappable beagle with a fancy inner life; Lucy, a fussbudget with a football and a curbside psychiatric clinic; Linus, a philosophical blanket-carrier; Sally, Charlie Brown's romantic little sister; Schroeder, a virtuoso on the toy piano and a Beethoven devotee; Peppermint Patty, a narcoleptic D-minus student; and, in later years, Woodstock, a small, expressive but speechless bird.
(SARAH BOXER The New York Times Company)


October 24, 1971
From UFS Inc.

Charles Monroe Schulz, the son of Carl Schulz, a barber, like Charlie Brown's father, and the former Dena Halverson, was born in Minneapolis on Nov. 26, 1922. Young Charles was nicknamed Sparky after the horse Spark Plug in the comic strip "Barney Google." He had a black-and-white dog named Spike (memorialized in the character of Snoopy's skinny Western brother).
He wanted to be a cartoonist as a child and practiced by drawing Popeye. "Someday, Charles, you're going to be an artist," a kindergarten teacher told him after looking at his drawing of a man shoveling snow. His ambition was to do a comic strip as good as George Herriman's "Krazy Kat," but Mr. Schulz also admired Picasso, Andrew Wyeth and Edward Hopper. Snoopy kept a van Gogh and a Wyeth in his doghouse.
The hurts of Mr. Schulz's early years provided a lifetime of material. At Central High School in St. Paul, he flunked Latin, English, algebra and physics. "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" accepted one of his drawings when he was 15 -- a picture of Spike illustrating "a hunting dog that eats pins, tacks and razor blades" -- but the cartoons he drew for his high school yearbook were rejected. Mr. Schulz remembered his failures more vividly than his successes.
After his high school graduation he took a correspondence course from Art Instruction Inc., but before he could start a career he was drafted into the Army. He left for boot camp only days after his mother died of cancer. (Mr. Schulz later suggested that this coincidence might have been the reason for his lifelong hatred of travel.) During World War II, from 1943 to 1945, Mr. Schulz served in France and Germany and became a staff sergeant in the 20th Armored Division. He once refused to toss a grenade into an artillery emplacement because he saw a little dog wander into it.
After the war he tried various odd jobs: lettering the comics at a Catholic magazine called Timeless Topix; drawing a weekly cartoon called "Li'l Folks," the precursor to "Peanuts," for the St. Paul Pioneer Press; and selling occasional spot cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post.
He also taught at Art Instruction Inc. There he fell in love with a redhead, Donna Johnson, and proposed marriage. She turned him down and married a fireman instead. He never forgot. Ms. Johnson became the Little Red-Haired Girl, Charlie Brown's unrequited love, who was often talked about but never seen in the strip. Mr. Schulz married Joyce Halverson in 1949; the marriage ended in divorce.
"You can't create humor out of happiness," Mr. Schulz said in his 1980 book, "Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me."
(SARAH BOXER The New York Times Company)


Schulz always held his parents in high regard, but they were emotionally remote and strangely inattentive to their only child. Schulz was shy and alienated during his school years, retreating from nearly every opportunity to reveal himself or his gifts. Teachers and students consequently ignored him, and Schulz nursed a lifelong grudge that so few attempted to draw him out or recognized his talent. His mother was bedridden with cancer during his high-school years, and she died long before he could prove himself to her -- a source of endless regret and longing for him. As a young adult, he disguised his hurt and anger with a mild, deflecting demeanor that also masked his great ambition and drive.
Once he finally achieved his childhood dream of drawing a comic strip, however, he was able to expose and confront his inner torments through his creative work, making insecurity, failure and rejection the central themes of his humor. Knowing that his miseries fueled his work, he resisted help or change, apparently preferring professional success over personal happiness. Desperately lonely and sad throughout his life, he saw himself as "a nothing," yet he was also convinced that his artistic ability made him special. An odd combination of prickly pride and utter self-abnegation characterizes many of his public comments.
"Peanuts" launched in 1950, appearing in just seven newspapers. The comic strip grew slowly at first, but as its vision expanded and the characters solidified, it caught fire with readers. Schulz's fixation on his work was total, and his private life suffered as a result. Schulz's strong-willed and industrious first wife, Joyce, grew disgusted with his withdrawal, and she often treated him cruelly. As the marriage finally unraveled, Schulz had an unsuccessful affair, and he later broke up the marriage of the woman who became his second wife. Schulz's life turned more peaceful after he remarried, but he never overcame the self-doubt and dread that plagued him. Work remained his only refuge. At the end, deteriorating health took away Schulz's ability to draw the strip, a loss so crushing that it can only be considered merciful that he died, at age 77 in 2000, the very day his last strip was published.
Schulz illustrates the conflict in his life, not in a self-justifying or vengeful manner but with a larger human understanding that implicates himself in the sad comedy. That's a wonderfully sane way to process a hurtful world. Of course, his readers connected to precisely this emotional depth in the strip, without ever knowing the intimate sources of certain themes. Whatever his failings as a person, Schulz's cartoons had real heart.
The cartoons are also terrifically funny and edgy, even after all these years. The wonder of "Peanuts" is that it worked on so many levels simultaneously. Children could enjoy the silly drawings and the delightful fantasy of Snoopy, while adults could see the bleak undercurrent of cruelty, loneliness and failure, or the perpetual theme of unrequited love, or the strip's stark visual beauty.
(BILL WATTERSON in The Wall Street Journal)

From UFS Inc.
Schulz revolutionized the comic strip. Not just with his simple and accessible art style but also his strong character development. He combined the innocence of childhood with the cynicism of adulthood to create realistic, idiosyncratic and empathetic icons. Each character was then put in repeated situations and environments that brought out his or her best humorous possibilities. Lucy was always pining for Schroeder. Linus was always clinging to his security blanket. Snoopy was always dreaming of being somebody more glamorous. Charlie Brown, the everyman, was always coming up a loser. He was equal parts human frailty and human spirit and fast became America's most loveable neurotic.
Four decades ago, Apollo 10 headed for outer space with Charlie Brown and Snoopy in tow. And not just in spirit: Charles Schulz’ unforgettable Peanuts pair became semi-official NASA mascots.
Astronauts Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young and Eugene A. Cernan nicknamed their command and lunar modules Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and Schulz sketched special artwork for the mission, which lasted from May 18 to 26, 1969.
Crew secretary Jamye Flowers greeted Stafford at launch with a giant Snoopy doll. NASA staffers checked color telecasts broadcast from inside the craft using paintings of Charlie Brown in space coveralls and Snoopy in his Flying Ace scarf. The recovery team that fished the Apollo 10 crew out of the drink painted “Hello ‘der Charlie Brown” on the underside of its helicopter. And the comic strips just kept on coming.
“I think the confluence of astronomy and comics is incredibly cool and so did my dad,” explained Charles’ son Craig Schulz, a director of The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, California. “He felt that his association with NASA via Peanuts was one of the two most important aspects of his life, the other being his service in World War II. Nothing helps bring astronomy down to earth, so to speak, better than comic strips.”
The second mission to orbit the moon, Apollo 10 set a world record at the time for the highest speed attained by a manned vehicle. Although the crew did not reach the moon, the Snoopy lunar module buzzed within eight miles of the surface. It was enough to energize Schulz’s comics, which had always featured Snoopy in some form of flying contraption.
Craig Schulz says that his father, like most pop culture of the period, was geeked on astronautics.
“Instead of being way out there in the distance — so technical and scientific and unapproachable — comic strips allow(ed) astronauts and space travel to become part of our daily experience,” he says. “Lately, Stephen Colbert has helped do the same thing. But I can’t think of anything that conveyed the pure joy and excitement of space travel better than Snoopy on top of his doghouse wanting to be the first Beagle on the moon!”

From UFS Inc.

The relationship formed when NASA asked Schulz to join the mission in hopes of cheering up a nation saddened by the tragedy of Apollo 1. Schulz was certain that the United States would one day make the moon, so he kicked off a week-long series of strips where Snoopy made it his mission to do just that. NASA had its semi-official mascot, and a public-relations makeover for a program well worth the popular and scientific interest. Today, we could really use the analogue.
“There has never been a greater achievement in human history than Americans landing on the moon,” Schulz says. “Having Snoopy be part of that program inspired children to take an interest in space and NASA, and those children are now ready to go back to the moon and beyond. The time we have spent on Hubble and the International Space Station may not seem as exciting or as ambitious as the first moon landing, but they are necessary steps in enabling us to land on other worlds. My hope is that Snoopy will return to the moon and maybe even fly to Mars in my lifetime.”

UFS Inc.
Schulz drew every PEANUTS comic strip - nearly 18,000 - himself for 50 years. He wrote all the scripts and storyboards for the PEANUTS television specials, earning him five Emmy and two Peabody Awards, and was involved in all aspects of the PEANUTS publishing and licensing programs. On February 12, 2000, Charles Schulz died in Santa Rosa, California. The National Cartoonists Society posthumously awarded him the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2001, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp featuring Snoopy as the World War One Flying Ace, and Schulz was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the U.S.'s highest civilian honor. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center opened in Santa Rosa in 2002.
(United Features Syndicate)


From LushBling

Time Line History:
October 2, 1950 -
Peanuts debuts in seven newspapers
December 14, 1999 -
Charles Schulz officially retires
2000 -
50th Anniversary of Peanuts
February 12, 2000 -
Charles Schulz dies Saturday evening, of complications from colon cancer in Santa Rosa, CA. He was 77 years old.
February 13, 2000 -
The final Sunday Peanuts newspaper strip appears

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