“Peanuts pretty much defines the modern comic strip, so even now it’s hard to see it with fresh eyes. The clean, minimalist drawings, the sarcastic humor, the unflinching emotional honesty, the inner thoughts of a household pet, the serious treatment of children, the wild fantasies, the merchandising on an enormous scale—in countless ways, Schulz blazed the wide trail that most every cartoonist since has tried to follow.”
Charles M. Shulz is an iconic comic strip artist that produced one of the (if not THE) longest running comic strips of all time. There are a lot of trivia lists about Snoopy and the Peanuts but there aren’t really a lot about the man himself. So rather than writing a biography like for other artists I’m going to keep this short and just list 10 amazing facts about the man behind the Peanuts.
1. Charles’ uncle gave him the nickname Sparky after Spark Plug (the horse) from the Barney Google comic strip.
2. He was an infantry squad leader in Europe in WWII.
3. His first regular cartoon strip was Lil’ folks that ran from 1947-1949.
4. He disliked the name Peanuts, wanting to name his strip Lil’ folks after his previous strip but the publisher was worried the strip would get confused for the strips Lil’ Abner or Little people. Whenever he could Schulz avoided using just the name peanuts.
5. His little red haired girl (the one Charlie Brown could never get to like him) was real life woman Donna Johnson. While she rejected his proposal she remained his friend for life.
6. He once painted a wall in an apartment in Colorado Springs for his baby daughter. The wall was removed in 2001 and donated to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Centre in Santa Rosa, California.
7. Schulz was of Lutheran faith but later in life said his philosophical views have evolved and that he is Secular Humanist. He has said that the Peanuts character Linus represents his spiritual side.
8. At the peak of the Peanuts popularity he made between 30 and 40 million US dollars per year.
9. He played hockey in a seniors men’s hockey league.
10. He asked that the Peanuts not be continued after his death. Even though United Features owns the rights they honoured his wish and never published a new peanuts comic strip after his death.