Guy Lochhead, 12/11/10
The American cartoonist creator of the hugely successful ‘Peanuts’ comic strip. His first drawings were of the family dog Sparky, who was featured in a ‘Ripley’s Believe It Or Not’ for his ability to eat pins, tacks and razorblades. Schulz was a shy child whose drawings were dismissed by most who saw them. He stuck with art though, becoming an art teacher in 1945 after a two-year stint in the army. His first successful comic was ‘Li’l Folks’, published from 1947-1950, which set out his unique style of drawing dogs and humans, and even featured a character called Charlie Brown, setting things out for Peanuts. He took the best strips from Li’l Folks to start Peanuts, beginning the same year Li’l Folks was dropped. It became a mega-hit, eventually numbering 17,897 strips. He was an extremely hard-working artist, taking only one holiday in the 50 years the comic ran. He died unexpectedly in 2000. In 2009, Forbes ranked him as the sixth highest-earning dead celebrity. Schulz seems like a very ordinary American who actually got to live the dream. He spoke proudly of his military service; was brought up in a Christian household, later abandoning his religious beliefs for a humanism grounded in Christian values; became hugely wealthy and bought sports stadiums etc.; and had a bunch of buildings named after him. It’s nothing thaaaaaat special – or rather, it’s not special in the way I’d like to celebrate. Peanuts is terrific though. I will write about it separately.