Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sparky

Charles Schulz was born 95 years ago today.  He created Peanuts, maybe the most popular comic strip ever. It still runs in papers (as a rerun--like one of his characters), though Schulz died in 2000.

Nicknamed Sparky, he was born in Minneapolis and served in the army during WWII.  He had a talent for drawing and in the late 40s did a one-panel comic known as Li'l Folks.  In the early 50s, he wanted to syndicate, but by this time had a four-panel comic strip that would become Peanuts.  (The name was forced on him.  He never liked it.)

It took a few years, but the strip caught on, and caught on big.  Schulz and only Schulz did the strip, and he provided new material up until a month before his death in 2000.  The strip also led to a series of bestselling books, TV specials, a hit musical (I played the lead in a community theatre production), movie features and millions in merchandising.

The strip developed and changed along the way.  Characters like Patty, Violent and Shermy didn't quite make it, while others, such as Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Woodstock were introduced and grew in popularity. Also, at first Snoopy was silent, but eventually we could read his thoughts and he became the strip's most popular character.  (At least I would claim it's Snoopy.  If you don't believe me, check out who dominated the merchandising.)

All along, sad sack Charlie Brown was the star.  In fact, the strip was often known as Peanuts, featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

Anyway, here's to good ol' Charles Schulz.

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