Charles Schulz the father of Charlie Brown and the Peanuts
Charles Schulz was an American cartoonist and the inventor of the comic series The Peanuts. During his lifetime, Schulz drew over 17,800 comic strips and wrote the scripts for the television and cinema appearances of Peanuts. For his life’s work, he was included in the Cartoonist Hall of Fame and honored with the highest civilian award of the US Congress, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Schulz grew up in Saint Paul in the Midwestern United States as the only child of Carl Fred Schulz from Stendal in the Altmark, and his Norwegian wife Dena Bertina (nee Halverson). The family had their paternal roots in the Altmark, in Eichstedt and Baben. His father – as well as the father of cartoon character Charlie Brown – was a hairdresser and had his own salon. Schulz liked to read the comics in newspapers as a child, his favorites included “Krazy Kat” by George Herriman, “Popeye” by Elzie Crisler Segar, Milton Caniff, Roy Crane and J. R. Williams. Even in the first grade Schulz performed well, so that let the principal of the elementary school in St. Paul skip the fourth grade.
In 1934, the twelve-year-old was given a dog – a black and white promenade mix – who was christened Spike and later became the model for Snoopy. In 1937, Schulz made his first release in the comic book Ripley’s Believe It or Not! – the theme was an episode from the life of Spike. He had swallowed a small ball and, in the evening after he had eaten a portion of spaghetti, again choked it out. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! printed Schulz ‘drawing of the dog and a short text.
In addition to high school, Schulz completed a correspondence course in comic drawing at the Minneapolis-based Art Instruction Schools, Inc.
In 1943 he was drafted into the army. During his basic education, his mother died of cancer in February 1943. Schulz was sent to France, Germany and Austria with the 20th US Armored Division and participated in the liberation of Dachau.
Back from the war, he accepted a job at a Catholic publishing house in St. Paul. He wrote the texts in the speech bubbles for the Christian comic booklet Timeless Topix. Shortly after Schulz had taken up this position, also the distance school offered him a job. He then worked during the day for the Art Instruction Schools, Inc., where he corrected the work of the beginner courses, in the evening he made the lettering for Timeless Topic.
Between 1948 and 1950 Schulz began to send his comics to the Saturday Evening Post and was able to sell at least 15 pieces. Meanwhile, Schulz not only filled the balloons of the English Timeless Topix, but also got the French and Spanish issues for lettering. A short time later, Roman Baltes, the art director of the Timeless Topix, bought Schulz a small series of comic strips, titled “Just keep laughing”, about a small group of children.
Frank Wing, a colleague of Schulz ‘at Kuns He gave the drawings the title of Li’l Folks and was soon able to sell his cartoons – still nicknamed “Sparky” – as a weekly series to the St. Paul Pioneers Press.
In 1950 Schulz sent a selection of his work to the United Feature Syndicate in New York and signed in the same year a contract with United Media.
On October 2, 1950, the first episode of Peanuts was released, a name Schulz was always very unhappy about. He would have preferred “Charlie Brown” or “Good Old Charlie Brown.” The United Feature Syndicate decided over Schulz’s head that the strip should be called “The Peanuts,” and Schulz finally agreed after his concerns were ignored. The comic strip was published in seven newspapers, the agency paid Schulz for 90 US dollars in the first month.
The evolution of peanuts
The protagonists of the series were Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Shermy and Patty in the first few months (not to be confused with the character Peppermint Patty). Shermy and Patty gradually became less important and eventually disappeared completely from the cartoon. In 1951 Schroeder was introduced to the troupe, a year later Lucy and her little brother Linus. In 1954, the children made acquaintance with Pigpen, the eternally filthy boy. In 1959 Charlie Brown got a little sister named Sally. In 1960, the Beagle Snoopy became increasingly human and began to run and think on his hind legs. Since then, Snoopy’s kennel can only be seen in the famous side view.
In 1966 Charlie Brown met Peppermint Patty, who had narcolepsy. In 1968, Schulz introduced the African-American boy Franklin to his cartoon, and two years later the Bird Woodstock.
In 1971, the children’s group was supplemented by the serious Marcie, a year later, Lucy and Linus got another family addition, her brother Rerun. In the year 1975, Snoopy’s brother Spike, who has since been involved in the stories as a regular “guest star”, appeared.
At first Charlie Brown was allowed to be mean as well. Over the years, however, Charlie Brown was more likely to become the target of others’ ridicule, a fate he endured with ease. He is always somehow involved in the misfortunes of his friends, he suffers and suffers, as Charlie Brown is a caricature of the average citizen.