Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Charles Schulz - He Showed Us the Good in Grief!

Charles Schulz's birthday is tomorrow, November 26th, he was born in 1922.

Here's a guy who took the limits of the comic strip and made them limitless. He made truly simple looking lines on a page tell a complex and deep story. He gave 2 dimensional characters voluminous more depth, I'll wager, than that mook sitting in the cubicle next to you has.

But I won't get hoity-toity-artsy-fartsy on you.

Charles Schulz didn't approach his work on "Peanuts" in that fashion. He just wanted to draw a comic strip. He just wanted to make it the best he could. He did what all true artists do, and did what comes natural and the art comes through. Sadness and joy of his life all went in to making one of the best comic strips ever done.

I know a bajillion Schulz anecdotes I could pass on to you, but my favorite is about the "Little Red-Haired Girl".

There really was one, you know. I'll keep it short and simple. Like the lines drawn in "Peanuts".

As a young man Charles was dating a woman with red hair who he loved (as all young men do) with all his heart. Being young, the girl had two semi-boyfriends, Charles and another. Schulz, wanting to secure his future with the red-haired girl, proposed marriage. Weighing her options, she judged one boyfriend who had joined the fire department and was securing a future for himself, against the other, a guy who liked to draw cartoons but had no real prospects for making any kind of a living. She did what any sensible young lady would do and chose the fireman, breaking Schulz's heart.

Schulz went on to create a newspaper comic strip that lasted almost 50 years, was published in nigh every country on the planet, spawned Television specials, motion pictures, a Broadway musical, hit songs...Hell, "Charlie Brown" and "Snoopy" were the call signs for the command module and lunar module, respectively on the Apollo 10 mission. HE WENT TO OUTER SPACE FOR CHRISSAKES! Oh...and to put it in perspective to the women out there who aren't impressed by worldwide and galactic influence and don't see the "red-haired girl's" folly...he pulled down an 8 figure income.

I figured you'd understand that. Byatches.

Charlie Brown flew around the world and into outer space, and all he really pined for was to be able to fly his kite past the "kite-eating tree", win a baseball game or kick that damn football. Oh yeah, and the "little red-haired girl".

Don't misinterpret me. Charles Schulz had two long marriages and had a passel of kids. But that tiny rejection flowed in to his "little kid's strip" and pumped it full of real emotion and fodder for years to come.

He did what he did and the art came through.

The very first "Peanuts" strip. October 2, 1950.

Charles Schulz and the "little red-haired girl".

The last "Peanuts" strip. December 14, 1999.

Thanks Charles. For 49+ years of doing it the right way.

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