In the CreativiTator Spotlight:
never have their moment in the sun. Some shine bright briefly
and never recapture the glory. Some only find the fame after
And then there
are Charles Schulz and Mister Rogers.
blessed to know [Mister Rogers] and Charles Schulz. They were
cut from the same cloth.” (Al Roker, 3-17-03 issue of People
Here were two
men, both gentle and humble, who contributed the best they had to
offer consistently until almost the end of their lives. And both
retired just in time to fully receive the accolades and praise and
appreciation from the public while they still were alive to
appreciate it. And the accolades and praise and appreciation have
continued since their passing.
Schulz’s death in February, 2000, I submitted a little “opinion
page” piece about him to the county newspaper where we lived at the
time. Here is what was printed:
March 8, 2000
Arenac County Independent
was more than ‘Peanuts’
October, while talking with relatives, I suggested that it would
be a sad day when Charles Schulz, the artist and creator of
Peanuts, passes away.
prior to any knowledge of Mr. Schulz having any health
problems. I only figured he was getting along in years. And I
knew that only the threat of losing him and his comic strip
would cause many of us to realize how much he has been a part of
merit much more than a paragraph in passing.
weeks, news broke of Mr. Schulz’s fight with cancer and
subsequent strokes. Then in December, the unthinkable… Mr.
Schulz was retiring! What? Now, I hadn’t been reading
Peanuts every day like I once did. But I still watched the
cartoons on TV with my children, I still chuckled at the books
that archived the strip. And now, the strip that had always
been there in a comforting way for 50 years would be gone.
Schulz’s work was nothing short of revolutionary and still is.
He was consistently poignant, ironic, philosophical,
theological, and hilarious—entertaining on all sorts of
different levels for young and old.
creations were marketed successfully throughout the world for
decades, to this day still generating millions a month. All
this was accomplished without one hint of smut, vulgarity, or
filth. How can anything else in pop culture compare?
12, the eve of his celebrated final original Sunday pane, Mr.
Schulz passed away. And as I had thought last fall, it proved
to be a sad day indeed. I am grateful Mr. Schulz had the
opportunity over his last months to realize how many lives he
had affected and touched.
last day may have been like finishing a race. He had reached
the end. He had done a good job, he had in my opinion (him
being a Christian), “fought the good fight…finished the
race…kept the faith.”
judge the man’s heart, only God can. But I judge the fruit of
the man’s life. It did amount to much more than “peanuts.”
I hope that
the man who often personally struggled with grief, depression
and despair, finally knows true happiness and peace with the
Lord, and that he can hear from the Lord Himself, “…Well done,
good and faithful servant…”
was always there. Later on I may have found more sophisticated
humor in Far Side and Bloom County, but I know that
Peanuts was first. And no cartoonist achieved name and face
recognition like Schulz. He was and is a superstar of comics like
we will never see again. And he achieved this fame without being
crass. He injected his theology and his pathos and his creativity
into the strip up until the end. And unlike many of his
contemporaries, he never let someone else do the strip or even part
of it. He did every single strip for 50 years by himself even when
his hand became not quite so steady.
the gloominess and melancholy that ran through the Peanuts
strip was a reflection of Schulz’ troubled soul is very painful to
me. But it is this very quality that makes the strip so relatable
to people around the world. And there was always a sense of hope
embodied in Charlie Brown. Charlie may have seemed like a “born
loser or blockhead,” but he wasn’t a quitter. He did not seem to
get the valentine cards or kick the football, win the baseball game
or successfully fly the kite, but he never gave up. And even though
Charlie got put down at times, in the end his dog did care about
him, Peppermint Patty and Marcy (both pretty plucky gals) had
crushes on him, and he had one of the most precociously profound
best friends in Linus.
was creative in finding ways to bring philosophy, theology,
psychology, and more into a deceptively simple set of panels. And
he gave us a very imaginative character in Snoopy. It was Snoopy’s
evolution from an average pet to the Joe Cool/WW I flying Ace etc…
that shot the popularity of the strip into the stratosphere. Where
else will you ever see a beagle perform War and Peace with
The world of
Peanuts is a rich one. Fortunately it is being reprinted in
grand form from the beginning in nice collectible little hardbound
tomes. Though gags and themes kept being echoed and revisited over
the years, Peanuts still avoided being one note like so many
other strips (sorry, Garfield, but your lasagna jokes got stale in
1983). I think a big key to the Peanuts success, besides the
subject matter, is that it has a large ensemble cast of distinct and
different personalities. Therefore there is someone for each of us
to identify with.
Yes, when all
is said and done, Charles Schulz was much more than Peanuts--and
Peanuts was much more than peanuts.
Intro to the
Wikipedia profile of Charles M. Shulz:
Charles Monroe Schulz
(November 26, 1922 – February 12, 2000) was
a 20th-century American cartoonist best known
worldwide for his Peanuts comic strip.
to read the Introduction to this
Creativitators section of Creativity Crossroads
overview of what the term "Creativitator" stands for on this
Good Grief: The Story
of Charles M. Schulz
by Rheta Grimsley Johnson
Amazon.com reader review
Though Charles Schulz created one of
the world's most popular comic strips and became a celebrity
in the process, he remained a very private person. He was a
rather simple man, and though he took the name of Charlie
Brown from an old friend, Charles Schulz was the true soul
of that lovable loser. GOOD GRIEF examines the life of
Schulz, his work, and it's effect upon society. The book
remains the most informative work on Schulz and gives
insight into the inspiration for most of the Peanuts gang
and even the story about the real "little red-haired girl".
The only real flaw is that the book skips around from past
to present from description to analysis from looking at
Schulz to talking about one of his characters. It's not a
bad style, but unfortunately in this case ruffles the flow
of the biography. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful book for
any Peanuts fan to read and also would be a good reference
for anyone wanting to gain an apprectiation of one of the
best comic strip artists of all time.
The Complete Peanuts
1950-1954 Boxed Set
by Charles Schulz (three
sets currently available, through 1962)
Good grief! The Complete Peanuts
is the most ambitious and most important project in the
comics and cartooning genre: over a period of 12 years,
Fantagraphics Books will release every daily and Sunday
strip of Charles M. Schulz's "Peanuts," the best-known and
best-loved series in the world.
Amazon.com reader review:
I loved Charles Schultz's 'Peanuts'
strip when I was young. My parents owned perhaps a
half-dozen paperback collections of strips that I read over
and over again in addition to his daily strip. As I reached
adolescence, however, Peanuts seemed to become less relevant
and amusing and I drifted away from it, losing track of a
childhood friend. Occasionally I would see a strip in the
paper and get a chuckle out of it, but it was no longer a
daily fix. Not until Schultz shocked the world by ending the
strip as his health problems grew worse in early 2000 did I
take the time to go back and look at just what I'd been
missing over the years, at which time I was disturbed to see
that even fifty years after starting the strip, Schultz's
work was funny, topical, and even occasionally poignant.
With that in mind I decided to go back to where it all began
with this beautiful collection of the first five years of
Peanuts strips, and I'm quite glad I did. Peanuts tends to
fool the reader with its use of children as primary
characters; we assume that it is a strip written not just
about, but for children. Nothing could be further from the
truth. Schultz uses children, yes, but the themes he
explored with those characters went far beyond typical
childhood troubles. Schultz's everyman, Charlie Brown,
speaks to everyone who has ever doubted themselves for a
moment, which is to say, he speaks for us all.
Going back to the beginning not only demonstrates why
Peanuts quickly took off, it presents a marvelous look into
the evolution of the strip. Who knew that some of the
characters we know so well today were absent from the early
years? We get to see the arrival of Lucy, the queen
fussbudget, her brilliant younger brother Linus, and the
prodigy and Beethoven fanatic Schroeder, as well as the
developing relationships between Charlie Brown and the
neighborhood gang. The two books are a treasure trove for
all, but will be of particular interest for readers unaware
of how Charlie Brown and the rest got their start. The
strips are augmented with numerous essays and interviews
about Peanuts bookending each volume and serving as a kind
of cultural barometer for the wide-ranging influence of
The books themselves are well-made and packaged inside a
handsome slipcase, making them an attractive addition to
your bookcase when you're not poring over them. Both volumes
are hardcover with sleeves and should last a lifetime of
The Charlie Brown Suite &
Amazon.com customer review
This album is certainly not for the
faint of heart...If you just want to hear some Charlie Brown
music, go get the original sdtk to the christmas special.
On the other hand, if you really appreciate the twisted
melodic genious of Guaraldi (like I do), this album is a
must. I picked up this cd on a whim to preview it at
Borders, and was blown away. Once I realized that the track
'Happiness Is' is actually a slower version of the 'Great
Pumpkin Waltz' with strings, my jaw dropped. Then halfway
through the song, Vince comes in with this solo that sends
chills down my spine! And the fact that it's at a slower
tempo allowed him to really take his time in expressing
himself. Man...talk about sick!!! that track was worth the
price alone. Then as I listened to the rest, and I found
more great gems...like the way Vince playfully bounces
around over the wonderfully melancholy arrangement of 'Rain
Rain Go Away', and how vince musically captures the
quirkiness of 'Peppermint Patty'.
And mind you that the majority of these tracks are live...no
studio retakes...every lick Vince plays is improv.
Although there are some doubtful renditions on this album -
like Linus and Lucy (a little too abstract for my taste),
there are great finds on this cd well worth the price for
the V.G. fan!