Thursday, September 30, 2010

One of the greatest comic strips of all time is turning 60 on October 2nd. No, Beetle Bailey turned 60 on September 4th. Peanuts debuted in eight newspapers. It currently runs in over 2,500 even though new strips are no longer being produced.

Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on November 26, 1922 and grew up in St. Paul. Schulz had always wanted to become a cartoonist and achieved his goal in 1947 when the St. Paul Pioneer Press began printing his comic strip Li'l Folks. In 1950, Schulz submitted his strip to United Feature Syndicate who agreed to syndicate his strip. Schulz was hoping to name it either Li'l Folks or Good Ol' Charlie Brown but the syndicate instead chose Peanuts after the Peanut Gallery on TV's "Howdy Doody". Schulz--nor anyone else--ever heard of a child being called a peanut and resented the name for the rest of his life, never referring to the name only as "the strip with Charlie Brown and Snoopy".

Schulz suffered a stroke in November of 1999 and it was learned he had colon cancer. On December 14th, Schulz announced his retirement and on February 12, 2000, Schulz passed away in his Santa Rosa home. The next day, the last Peanuts strip ran. Schulz's family followed his wishes that the strip not be continued.
"To the very end, his life had been inseparable from his art. In the moment of ceasing to be a cartoonist, he ceased to be." -David Michaelis Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography

In honor of Peanuts sixtieth anniversary, I originally had a hodge-podge of strips from the 1950s until the very last one. Those strips were removed in the Great Photobucket Massacre but here is the link to the Peanuts comics now on GoComics.com.











Shortly after Schulz died, several cartoonists did tributes to Schulz and Peanuts.  In fact, For Better or For Worse published a valentine to Charles and Jeannie:


In an interview, Schulz stated that he could never have Charlie Brown kick the football because it wouldn't fit in with the strip's world.  As Schulz signed his final strip, he teared up when he realized the Round-Headed Kid would never kick that football.  "What a dirty trick," Schulz said.

Peanuts continues in papers around the world despite entering its eleventh year of reruns.  The characters still bring in millions of dollars every year.  And every day, millions of people identify themselves in one of the strips.

You were a good man, Charles Schulz.

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