A Good Guy: Honoring ‘Peanuts’ Creator Schultz at 100th Exhibition

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a series of “Peanuts” comic strips that aired in mid-April 1956, Charlie Brown grabbed the string of his kite that got stuck in the long-running comic strip called “” Kite” place – eat trees. “

In an episode that week, a frustrated Charlie Brown turned down an offer from nemesis Lucy to yell at the tree.

“If I had a kite caught in a tree, I would yell at it,” Lucy responded in the final panel.

The simplicity of this interaction illustrates how different “Peanuts” is from the comics prior to its debut in 1950, said Lucy Sher, founding director of the Billy Irish Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, Columbus, the world’s largest museum of its kind. Don Caswell said.

“You might need a week to talk about the idea, and it doesn’t have to be a gag, like someone hitting someone in the head with a bottle or something,” Caswell said. “It’s really revolutionary.”

New exhibits at the Billy Irish Museum and the Charles M. Schultz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California, are celebrating the first birthday of the “Peanuts” cartoonist Schultz, who was born on November 26, 1922 in Minnesota. Centennial.

Schultz has Sparky’s lifelong moniker, given by a relative after Sparky, a horse in an early comic Barney Google.

Schultz never liked the name “Peanuts” that the group chose because his original title “Li’l Folks” was too similar to another stripper’s name. But the Columbus exhibition made it clear, through banners, memorabilia and commentary, that Schultz’s creation was a master at the time.

When Schultz retired after being diagnosed with cancer in 1999, his work was published in more than 2,600 newspapers, translated into 21 languages ​​in 75 countries, and reached an estimated 355 million daily readers. Schultz himself created and painted 17,897 “Peanuts” bars, even after tremors in his hands.

Striptease is also the subject of recurring plays “You’re a Nice Guy, Charlie Brown” as well as “Snoopy: The Musical,” dozens of TV specials and shows, and many book collections.

In a 2007 Wall Street Journal review of Schultz’s biography, “Calvin and Hobbes” creator Bill Watterson described the difficulty of seeing “Peanuts” with fresh eyes because it How revolutionary it was at the time.

Schultz Museum director Benjamin Clark described the innovation as Schultz’s use of spare lines to preserve its expressiveness.

Schultz “understood in drawing technique that he could cut out the unnecessary and still strike emotion with the simplest lines,” Clark said. “But that simplicity is deceiving. There’s so much of this stuff.”

The Columbus exhibit showcases the strip with 12 “installations” that Schultz believes set Peanuts apart, including references to the kite-eating tree, Snoopy’s kennel, Lucy’s insanity in her psychosis Learn at the booth, Linus’ obsession with the big pumpkin, Schroeder playing Beethoven, and more.

“Celebrating Sparky” also focuses on Schultz’s promotion of women’s rights with a promotional film about Title IX, a groundbreaking law requiring equality in women’s sports; after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, a reader’s outcry prompted He brought in Franklin, a man of color.

In addition, the exhibit includes memorabilia, from branded tissues to Pez dispensers, part of the vast universe of “Peanuts” licensing. Some fellow cartoonists disliked the way Schultz commercialized the series.

Caswell said he dismissed the criticism, arguing that comic strips have always been commercialized as a way to sell newspapers since their invention.

While 1965’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is one of the most famous cartoon TV specials of all time, the characters have also appeared in dozens of animated shows and movies, most recently on Apple TV’s original shows and specials middle.

His wife, Jean Schultz, told The Associated Press last year that the Apple shows are giving new viewers the truth about Schultz’s paintings. She describes the fact this way:

“A family of characters who live nearby, get along with each other, have fun with each other, sometimes argue with each other, but always end up hugging each other or resolving their arguments in a good frame,” she said.

Caswell, who first met Schultz in the 1980s, said one purpose of the exhibition was to surprise people with things they didn’t know about the man. In this regard, “Celebrating Sparky” has been an admirable success.

For example, who knew that hockey and ice skating enthusiast Schultz was in both the US Figure Skating and US Hockey Hall of Fame? (Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering multiple strips featuring hockey Snoopy or Zambonis driven by little yellow bird Woodstock.)

By focusing on Schultz, the show also aims to show how he worked to perfect his painting style before “Peanuts” came out, and intentionally made what he wanted the strip to be like, Caswell said.

“He’s a genius who has a very clear, creative life and likes to make people laugh,” she said.

“Celebrating Sparky: Charles M. Schulz and the Peanuts” at the Billy Ireland Museum runs through November and is installed in partnership with the Charles M. Schulz Museum.

The Charles M. Schultz Museum has two exhibitions commemorating the birth of Schultz: “Snoopy’s Spark Plug: 100 Years of Schultz,” exploring the comics and artists that influenced Schultz (until September 18 ); and “Schultz’s Spark: A Centennial Celebration,” exploring cartoonists and artists influenced by Schultz (from September 25, 2022 to March 12, 2023).

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