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Good ol' 'Charlie Brown' Schulz
Good Old Charlie Schulz

 Cartoonist Charles Schulz, creator of 'Peanuts', holds a drawing of comic strip character Snoopy.
FILE/BEN MARGOT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 1/23/2011

ASHLAND

--Charles Monroe Schulz was 20th-century America's favorite and most highly respected cartoonist. His comic strip, "Peanuts," once appeared daily in more than 2,000 newspapers in the United States and abroad. Even today, 10 years after his death, classic "Peanuts" reprints continue to hold their own space in many major newspapers.

Thousands of toys and gift items continue to bear the likenesses of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and their friends; a stage musical based on the strip has become one of the most frequently performed shows in American theatrical history; and several award-winning animated television specials continue to amuse us every holiday season.

While Schulz himself was sometimes bewildered by the enormous popularity and influence of his creation, he held to a principle of integrity that allowed him to remain comfortable with the merchandising of "Peanuts."

Beginning with the first strip published on Oct. 2, 1950, until the last published on Feb. 13, 2000 (the day after his death), Schulz wrote, penciled, inked, and lettered by hand every single one of the daily and Sunday strips to leave his studio--17,897 in all for an almost 50-year run. No other cartoonist has matched this achievement.

I had the pleasure of knowing Schulz, who insisted that his friends call him "Sparky," and visited with him in order to talk about comic art and my research into comics history.

Over the years I collected various essays and articles he had published about his career, his profession, and his creation of the "Peanuts" characters, and research into his archives preserved at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center at Santa Rosa uncovered several unpublished essays. With the cooperation of the family and estate, I edited and assembled these pieces into a volume that has been published as "My Life With Charlie Brown."

What these essays demonstrate is that Schulz was a writer of considerable skill who knew how to express his ideas very effectively in prose as well as cartoon images. Although he never considered himself an intellectual, and was often puzzled by my discussion of existentialism in his strip, he greatly respected higher education and was widely read in the great ideas and literature of the world.


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