Charles Schulz, the creator of 'Peanuts', is one of the most popular and influential humorist comic artists ever. He was born as Charles Monroe Schulz (and nicknamed Sparky) into a family of German-Norwegian origins in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and grew up in Saint Paul.After he fought in Europe in the second World War, he started drawing the comic 'L'il Folks', a precursor of 'Peanuts'. The strip was published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press between 1947 and 1950.
"Let's get out of here... this gives me the chills!"
Soon the United Feature Syndicate started selling the strips to many newspapers, and the feature was renamed to 'Peanuts' when it commenced syndicated publication on 2 October 1950. A Sunday page was added in 1952. The main characters are the melancholy Charlie Brown and his clever dog Snoopy, who live in a suburb together with other kids who all have their peculiar personalities.
Umberto Eco described 'Peanuts' in an introduction of a book:
"These children affect us because they're monsters. They are the monstrous, infantile reductions of all the neuroses of modern citizens of the industrial civilization."
An early Peanuts, by Charles Schulz
The most successful comic strip in newspaper history, 'Peanuts' appeared in some 2,600 newspaper in 75 countries and was translated into 21 languages. 'Peanuts' book collections have sold more than 300 million copies worldwide. A comic book series with new material was launched by Western/Dell Publishing in 1960.
The demand for merchandising and other related artwork also increased and Schulz called in the help of assistants. Over the years, cartoonists that have worked with Schulz are Dale Hale, Frank Hill and Jim Sasseville.
Schulz was still working on new material between golf-matches until he retired after about 18,000 episodes at the beginning of the new millennium. He died of complications due to colon cancer at the age of 77 in Santa Rosa, California on February 12, 2000. He will be missed, but his lovable comic characters will live on in our memories. On June 7, 2001, Charles Schulz was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Charles Schulz's work has been an influence on such diverse artists as Chris Ware, Bill Griffith, Tony Millionaire, Dylan Horrocks, Matt Groening, Merho, Jean Roba, Mort Drucker, Bill Watterson and Seth, while Hergé and André Franquin were also known to be admirers of his work.