We know Charles M. Schulz best as the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip. I thought it would be interesting to take a closer look into the life of this highly talented man.
As a child, he was moved up two half-grades, and became the youngest in his class when he reached high school. He was fairly shy and isolated, perhaps because of this age difference, but also perhaps because of a natural tendency. Discovering a talent, he began taking correspondence courses in art.
In 1943, he was drafted into the Army and was sent to Europe to serve his country as an infantry squad leader. When he returned, he was given a job as an art instructor with the same company he took his own art lessons from. He decided to focus on cartooning, and his first published drawings were published in Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
His first series was “Li’l Folks,” where he introduced the character of Charlie Brown. It wasn’t until 1950, however, that the “Peanuts” gang as we know them today made their appearance. He based “Charlie Brown” on a co-worker at the art school, and “The Little Red-haired Girl” was a woman with whom he had a relationship, who turned down his marriage proposal but remained his friend throughout his life.
Charlie Brown represents the underdog, the “everyman” in all of us. He has a naturally pessimistic outlook and is buoyed up by his optimistic, imaginative, and highly talented dog, Snoopy, a beagle. His little sister, Sally, is sweet but underfoot, and his best friend Linus has a permanent attachment to his security blanket. My favorite character is Lucy, Linus’s older sister. She’s very sure of herself, is a bit bossy, and has an outrageously overinflated sense of her own importance.
In 1999, Schulz had a stroke, and was later diagnosed with colon cancer. It was only at this time that he retired, the comic having run constantly all that time. He died of a heart attack, however, and not the cancer, in February of 2000. His influence on the world has been sadly missed.
He was awarded with a Congressional Gold Medal, has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was granted the Silver Buffalo from the Boy Scouts, the highest honor they can give, among other prestigious awards. The Sonoma County airport also changed its name to become the Charles M. Schulz airport, and features a large picture of Snoopy flying his doghouse through the skies.