Charles M. Schulz
He attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he skipped two grades. As a result, he was the youngest in his class when he attended St. Paul Central High years later, which may have been the reason why he was so shy and isolated as a young teenager. After his mother died in February, 1943, he was drafted into the army and sent to Camp Campbell in Kentucky. He was then shipped to Germany two years later to fight in World War II. After leaving the army in 1945, he took a job as an art teacher at Art Instruction Inc. , which he attended before he was drafted. There he met Yesterdays creator Frank Wing . They became close friends, with Wing taking a mentor role in Schulz's life.
First published by Robert Ripley in his Ripley's Believe It or Not!, then in a series of chronicles, The Saturday Evening Post, his first regular comic strip, Li'l Folks was published in 1947 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press. (It was in this strip that Charlie Brown first appeared, as well as a dog that looked much like Snoopy). In 1950 he approached the United Features Syndicate with his best strips from Li'l Folks, and Peanuts made its first appearance on October 2, 1950. This strip became one of the most popular comic strips of all time. He also had a short lived sports-oriented comic strip called It's Only a Game (1957-1959), but abandoned that strip due to the demands of the success of Peanuts.
He put a lot of his own life into Peanuts' main character, Charlie Brown. For example:
- Schulz's father was a barber and his mother a housewife.
- Schulz also had a dog when he was a boy (unlike Snoopy, however, Schulz's dog Spike was a pointer).
- Schulz was also shy and withdrawn.
- Schulz's Little Red-Haired Girl was Donna Johnston, an accountant at Art Instruction Inc., with whom he had a relationship. He asked her to marry him, but she refused. However, they remained friends for the rest of his life.
Schulz was married twice. He married his first wife, Joyce Halverson , in 1951. They had five children, but divorced in 1972. He later married Jean Forsyth Clyde in 1973, with whom he was married for the remainder of his life.
Schulz was for many years of his adult life a member of the United Methodist Church and remained part of that church to the day of his death, although in a short 1999 interview he described himself as having gradually turned to the philosophy of Secular Humanism. Because themes and dialogue in Peanuts were in harmony with certain basics of Christian theology, a paperback book, The Gospel According to Peanuts, was written by Robert L. Short . It was a bestseller for a time in the 1960s.
Peanuts ran for nearly 50 years without interruption and had appeared in over 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries. In November 1999 Schulz had a stroke, and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer that had metastasized to his stomach. Because of the chemotherapy and the fact he couldn't read or see clearly, he announced his retirement on December 14, 1999, at the age of 77. This was difficult for Schulz, and he was quoted as saying "I never dreamed that this would happen to me. I always had the feeling that I would stay with the strip until I was in my early eighties, or something like that. But all of sudden it's gone. It's been taken away from me. I did not take it away. This was taken away from me."
The last original strip ran on February 13, 2000. Schulz had died at 9:45 p.m. the night before in Santa Rosa, California of a heart attack. As part of his will, Schulz had requested that the Peanuts characters remain as authentic as possible and that no new comic strips based on them be drawn. To date his wishes have been honored, although reruns of the strip are still being syndicated to newspapers. He is interred in Pleasant Hills Cemetery, in Sebastopol, California.
- Chip Kidd (Ed.) (2001). Peanuts: the Art of Charles M. Schulz. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0-375-42097-5.