If you picked up a newspaper today, first of all, thanks for keeping journalism alive for another day; second, you may have noticed a lot of Peanuts references in the comics page.
Today would be the 100th birthday of Charles Schulz, Peanuts' creator.
Schulz was probably the very first inspiration sparking (wink, wink) my urge to cartoon — as he was to so many of my contemporaries. As a child, I had all the Peanuts books, including The Gospel According to Peanuts and The Parables of Peanuts — the former, autographed by its author, Robert Short. Peanuts didn't run in my local paper, but my grandparents would clip and save Peanuts from the Sheboygan Press for me every day even into my college years.
|The Gospel According to Peanuts, Bantam edition, 1968, must have been my sixth Peanuts book.|
So how to join in the centennial celebration of such a towering figure in our field?
Just last June, I highlighted Schulz's reference in Peanuts to a cartoon drawn by a mentor of his, Frank Wing, in the wee decades of the 20th Century. Five years ago, I celebrated April Fools' Day by featuring some of the more obscure characters he drew in Peanuts.
But for today, I decided to rummage through my own archives in search of cartoons I've drawn with a nod to Mr. Schulz.
I was a bit surprised to come up with only three.
Well, reaching back to some of my juvenalia, four. But that old, old cartoon essentially stole an idea drawn by Tony Auth and stuck Charlie Brown and a few other additions into it. It was utterly unoriginal, and I don't feel like giving that cartoon new life on the internets.
But here are the three that I don't mind bringing back today.
There was this caricature of Scott Pruitt, an anti-environmental activist and the Corrupt Trump Administration's first head of the Environmental Protection Agency, as Pigpen, the hopelessly filthy member of the Peanuts gang who could raise a cloud of dust ice skating.
I had hoped to find an occasion to work this caricature into a fully realized cartoon, but that never came about in the less than 17 months Pruitt was in the cabinet. When he resigned in July of 2018, he was the target of at least 14 federal investigations.
|in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, July 5, 2005|
This one from 2005 takes a Peanuts trope that long ago became a cliché in editorial cartooning. Perhaps the only other Peanuts trope we have rehashed more often is the Great Pumpkin.
|Q Syndicate, January, 2014|
So when I went to that particular inkwell again in 2014, I attempted to find something fresh and new to do with it.
Chris Kluwe was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings, and a vocal supporter of LGBTQ+ causes, which he claimed led to his being cut from the team. A subsequent investigation found testimony to support some of Kluwe's charges, but after getting bogged down by uncooperative witnesses, ended quietly. The Vikings settled the case by promising to donate some undisclosed monetary amount to LGBTQ+ causes.
I suppose that since I draw primarily for LGBTQ+ publications, a cartoon about young angst-ridden children isn't, well, sexy. But then, you could say that about a lot of the topics I draw about.
Oh, sure, I could easily draw cartoons in which Marcie and Peppermint Patty take their relationship to the next level. And yet that seems like cartoon blasphemy somehow, akin to drawing Snoopy with rabies, Schroeder playing bagpipes, or Charlie Brown winning the World Series.
So I didn't add to the reams of cartoons of weeping Charlie Browns and Snoopys when Schulz died very shortly after retiring the strip; the topic didn't fit either Q Syndicate's or the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee's needs that week.
Well, let's not end today's post there.
I started this post talking about how Charles Schulz inspired me, and generations of other cartoonists, when we were youngsters. I'll leave you today with his very first published cartoon, in the nationally syndicated feature "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," when he was just fifteen years old.
|"Ripley's Believe It or Not" by Robert Ripley, for King Features Syndicate, Feb. 22, 1937|
|"Peanuts" by Charles Schulz for United Features Syndicate, July 1, 1972|