Monday, October 29, 2007

You're a Good Man Sparky Schulz

Tonight we happened across American Masters on PBS and it featured Charles Schulz. I'd recommend watching it, though, I'm really depressed after viewing it and wish that Charlie Brown could have kicked the football -- as well as Charles.

Personally, he's one cartoonist I've always looked up to from childhood on and think of as an inspiration. I was very touched by, I'm guessing, his last interview where he had announced his retirement -- due to his stroke and battle with cancer. Oh, heck, my eyes got watery, it was that moving a segment. I always figured he died more from a broken heart than from cancer ... having to quit the strip. He's one cartoonist I wish I could have met and I eat up Sparky stories from other cartoonists who did meet him. They ALL speak very favorably, he was always encouraging to them and shared insight.... I do hope he realized how truly loved and worthwhile he was.

If you missed it, it'll run again on Oct. 31st on PBS at 1:00 p.m. and again on Nov. 1st at 11:00 a.m. Here's the schedule link.


timbenson said...

I was watching a Charlie Brown special on ABC Oct. 30, so I missed the Charles Schulz special on PBS. It isn't Halloween, Thanksgiving, or (especially) Christmas for me unless my Mom and I watch the Charlie Brown/Peanuts specials on T.V. I remember seeing the Christmas Peanuts show, for the first time, in 1969 after I sang solo (also for the first time) during our church choir's performance when I was living in Edina, Mn. My barber, John Matthews, is from St. Paul. He says he knew Schulz's Dad, who, ironically, also worked as a barber in St. Paul. I also spent time at the Mayo Clinic in 1968 reading Mr. Schulz's book, "Happiness is a Warm Puppy", and watching Star Trek while my Mom was in recovery from hysterectomy surgery. Why is the strip called Peanuts? Is it in reference to the phrase "Peanut Gallery"?

johndaiker said...

Hey Tim, according to Wikipedia;

"In 1948, Schulz tried to have Li'l Folks syndicated through the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Schulz would have been an independent contractor for the syndicate, unheard of in the 1940s, but the deal fell through.[citation needed] Li'l Folks was dropped in 1949. The next year, Schulz approached the United Features Syndicate with his best work from Li'l Folks.

When his work was picked up by United Features Syndicate, they decided to run the new comic strip he had been working on.[citation needed] This strip was similar in spirit to the panel comic, but it had a set cast of characters, rather than different nameless little folk for each page. The name Li'l Folks was too close to the names of two other comics of the time: Al Capp's Li'l Abner and a strip titled Little Folks. To avoid confusion, the syndicate settled on the name Peanuts, a title Schulz always disliked. In a 1987 interview, Schulz said of the title Peanuts: "It's totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity — and I think my humor has dignity"."

timbenson said...

Thanks for the info, John. Who drew the Little Folks 'toon you refer to? Why would Schulz have to subcontract through NEA in 1949? So, United Features, in 1950, decided on the name Peanuts. Why Peanuts? Is it a reference to "Peanut Gallery"?

timbenson said...

According to the Star Tribune on Oct. 28, United Features "looked to The Howdy Doody Show,(for a name for the Strip,) which featured the Peanut Gallery. Schulz thought the title 'Peanuts' was an awful choice." Schulz's nickname, "Sparky" was inspired by the also-ran race horse Spark Plug, featured in my Grandpa's favorite cartoon strip, Barney Google, according to the Star Tribune. The article also noted that "when Lynn Johnston, of 'For Better or Worse,' told Schulz she was planning to have the family dog die in her cartoon strip, he treatened to have a truck hit Snoopy at the same time so that nobody would 'read your stupid story.'" The article describes Schulz as an intensely private man, yet desperate for public accolades, humble, yet cocky when it concerned cartooning, good-humored, yet bordering on depression. In my opinion, he was a human being who offered insightful, biting commentary on the human condition, yet man enough to express his own shortcomings and self-doubt through the characters in his strip. Peanuts was truly a self-reflection of a complex man.

Jackilope said...

Tim and John,
Thanks for sharing your research.

I laughed out loud reading the storyline about Farley dying and Schulz threatening to have a truck hit Snoopy!!!!

I'm posting a link for other Peanuts trivia here: