Summary: This is the first week of our "Peanuts" series and this week we are looking at the attitudes of some of the Peanuts characters, the apostles and us.
How many of you grew up with “Peanuts”? Not the ground nuts that people are allergic to but Charlie Brown and his crew? From as far back as I can remember Charlie Brown has been a part of my life, when I was a kid a part of our Christmas traditions was to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas, as I got older the Peanuts strips in the paper, black and white through the week and colour on the weekends was something that I read religiously. My best friend collected the Peanuts collections and when we were at University he decided that he was too mature for Peanuts and BC and gave me all his books. Not sure what he was saying about my level of maturity. In 1990 when we moved to Australia I gave them away but Charles Schulz’s creation was an integral part of the first thirty years of my life.
And when we started promoting this series I would be willing to wager that each of you had a favorite Peanuts memory that came to mind. Perhaps Snoopy as the famous WW1 Ace chasing the Red Baron, or Charlie Brown with his kite stuck in the tree, Linus with his blanket or crabby Lucy and her fledgling Psychiatric practice.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s going to be a long four weeks.
It was last March during our “Sermons from Seuss” series that Colin approached me and asked if I had thought of using Peanuts for a series and he reminded me the panel where Charlie Brown reveals his idea of happiness. “The secret of happiness is to own a convertible and a lake. If the sun shines, you can ride around in your convertible. If it rains, you can say, ‘At least the rain will fill up my lake.’”
So here we go, the Peanuts gang were the creation of Charles Shultz. Schulz was born in and raised in Minnesota, and very early in life was given the nickname Sparky by his uncle. He was brought up in the Church of God where he eventually taught Sunday School and contributed single panel comic to the denominational magazine between 1956 and 1965. Later in life he defined himself as a secular humanist but his Christian background continued to be evidenced in the stip
Sparky always had an interest in drawing but that wasn’t recognized by everyone, his high school year book rejected drawings that he submitted during his senior year.
After high school and a stint in the US Army during the Second World War Schulz set out to make a living with his drawings, but it wasn’t until 1950 that his strip, originally called L’il Folks was accepted by United Feature Syndicates and became the most successful comic strip of all times eventually earning Schulz 30 to 40 million dollars a year. A little trivia, at its peak the strip was featured in 2,600 papers in 75 countries and 21 languages. Schulz refused to hire an inker or letterer, saying that “it would be equivalent to a golfer hiring a man to make his putts for him.” And during the life of the strip, Schulz took only one vacation, a five-week break in late 1997 to celebrate his 75th birthday; reruns of the strip ran during his vacation, the only time reruns occurred while Schulz was alive.