My Life with Charlie Brown

My Life with Charlie Brown

Edited and with an introduction by M. Thomas Inge
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    My Life with Charlie Brown
    Book Description:

    While best known as the creator of Peanuts, Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) was also a thoughtful and precise prose writer who knew how to explain his craft in clear and engaging ways. My Life with Charlie Brown brings together his major prose writings, many published here for the first time.Schulz's autobiographical articles, book introductions, magazine pieces, lectures, and commentary elucidate his life and his art, and clarify themes of modern life, philosophy, and religion that are interwoven into his beloved, groundbreaking comic strip. Edited and with an introduction by comics scholar M. Thomas Inge, this volume will serve as the touchstone for Schulz's thoughts and convictions and as a wide-ranging, unique autobiography in the absence of a traditional, extended memoir.Inge and the Schulz estate have chosen a number of illustrations to include. With the approval and cooperation of the Schulz family, Inge draws on the cartoonist's entire archives, papers, and correspondence to allow Schulz full voice to speak his mind. The project includes his comics criticism, his introductions to Peanuts volumes, his essays about philanthropy, his commentary on Christianity, his newspaper articles about the creation of his characters, and more. My Life with Charlie Brown will reveal new dimensions of this legendary cartoonist.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-448-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Charles Monroe Schulz, better known as “Sparky” among his family and friends, was twentieth-century America’s favorite and most highly respected cartoonist. His comic strip,Peanuts, appeared daily in over two thousand newspapers in the United States and abroad in a multiplicity of languages. Compilations of the strips sold in millions of copies during his lifetime and often topped best seller lists, and more recently a series of volumes collecting the complete run ofPeanutsappeared in theNew York Timeslistings.

    Thousands of toy and gift items bore and continue to bear the likenesses of Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, and...

  4. Chronology
    (pp. xv-xxii)
  5. MY LIFE

    • My Life and Art with Charlie Brown and Others
      (pp. 3-19)

      And so, 25 years have gone by. At one strip per day, that comes to almost 10,000 comic strips. Actually, this is not so much when you consider the longevity of many other comic features. Employees receive wristwatches if they have put in this much time with a company, but a comic-strip artist just keeps on drawing. (Somehow a comic-strip artist is never regarded as an employee.) I have been asked many times if I ever dreamed thatPeanutswould become as successful as it is, and I think I always surprise people when I say, “Well, frankly, I guess...

    • Peanuts as Profession of Faith
      (pp. 20-25)

      An interviewer once wrote that one of my characters, Charlie Brown, mirrors some of my own childhood troubles. That may be true, but he is also a reflection of the troubles of millions of others—or so I gather from those who write me. I think Charlie is a reflection of something in all of us which needs constant reassuring that the people round about us really do like us.

      Linus’ affection for his blanket, on the other hand, is a symbol of the things we cling to. Our first three children, when they were small, all carried blankets around...

    • Commencement Address at Saint Mary’s College
      (pp. 26-31)

      I would like to use a text from Romans 8:26 as a basis for my thought this morning. “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.”

      Saint Mary’s College is to be complimented for its courage. It is probably the only college in the country which has invited a comic strip artist to be its Commencement Day speaker. I take this as not only a great personal compliment, but also a great compliment to a profession...

    • Charles Schulz and Peanuts
      (pp. 32-36)

      In all the articles that have been written about Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the other things we have been doing, none of the writers has ever mentioned that the one cartoonist who helped most was Walt Ditzen. When he was working for one of the syndicates in Chicago, I dropped in with a batch of samples and he went far out of his way that day and later to give me advice and help that I badly needed. I have always regretted that Walt never got any credit for this where people could hear about it.

      Peanutsstarted as...

    • The Christmas That Almost Got Stolen
      (pp. 37-40)

      It is probably impossible to discuss holidays and children without talking about school. No matter how much meaning we try to put into holiday ceremonies, children will always look to these times primarily as a reprieve from schoolwork.

      When I recall my childhood in St. Paul, Minnesota, the memories invariably are memories of school. I was not overfond of the class routines, but I must admit there was always one project that I enjoyed. Just as English class meant the inevitable theme “What I Did on My Summer Vacation,” art class always included a project requiring us to draw our...

    • Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament
      (pp. 41-45)

      1935 was a good sports year for me. That summer I saw my first professional baseball game, and that winter I saw the St. Paul hockey team play Wichita in what was then the United States Hockey League. The hockey we played as kids in our neighborhood was on either a ridiculously small rink that my dad made for us in our backyard or else out in the snow-covered street. The goals were always two clumps of snow, which worked quite well until an inconsiderate woman driver crushed them as we all stood to the side yelling raucous remarks.


    • I’ll Be Back in Time for Lunch
      (pp. 46-50)

      Sometimes it takes me a long time to come to certain conclusions. I have been drawing thePeanutsstrip for almost 35 years now and, of course, have had many strangers visit my studio. They look at all the books in my room and at a beautiful glass-top desk, given to me by my wife as a wedding present, upon which I place the strips after they have been drawn. They then look at my drawing board and express amazement that this is theactualboard at which I sit and draw the strips. I often wonder whether they think...

    • The Fan: Baseball Is Life, I’m Afraid
      (pp. 51-55)

      Baseball is life, I’m afraid. Well, I love baseball. I suppose I love it so much because I love standing on the mound where I can look over the whole game and field and feel I’m in control. What a beautiful feeling that is, wow!

      I admit, however, I don’t have much to be proud of. I have a dog at shortstop whose big fantasy is to play hockey, of all things, against Wayne Gretzky. I have this kid at second base who holds a security blanket. Then I have Lucy, who’s probably the worst right fielder in the game....

    • Comic Inspiration
      (pp. 57-59)

      I’m not often asked where I get my ideas for drawingPeanuts, like that little French café where Snoopy sits and passes the time talking to the waitress. I don’t know exactly where that idea came from—drawing a comic strip is sort of a mysterious process—but I have been to Paris a few times over the years.

      During my last visit, the Louvre put on a one-man show with the original artwork from about 80Peanutsstrips. The French gave me a nice medal, and I was awarded the title of Commander of Arts and Letters—not bad...

    • Don’t Grow Up
      (pp. 60-66)

      An astounding thing has been happening to me the last couple of years. People come up to me and say: “Are you still drawing the strip?” I want to say to them, “Good grief—who else in the world do you think is drawing it?” I would never let anybody take over. And I have it in my contract that if I die, then my strip dies. This is what my children want, too. They said, “We don’t want anybody else drawing Dad’s strip.”

      People also ask me if there’s any message or theme toPeanuts. I suppose it might...

    • My Shot: Good Grief!
      (pp. 67-68)

      Golf has always been a big part of my life, ever since I was eight years old, watching the Bobby Jones films at Saturday matinees, caddying at Highland Park in St. Paul, and eventually playing in what we still like to call the Crosby. I’m still sad that last week, for the first time in 37 years, I wasn’t invited to play.

      For a die-hard amateur such as myself, teeing it up on the Monterey peninsula with the world’s greatest players was always a huge thrill. My first Crosby, in 1963, was the most memorable. I was paired with Peter...

    • A Morning Routine
      (pp. 69-70)

      I usually drive to our ice arena in the morning, where I have an English muffin and some grape jelly and a small cup of coffee. I love to read the morning paper at that time of day. As soon as I get out of the car, there are two dogs who realize that it is me. They live in a rented house on the corner, and as soon as I begin to walk toward them, they come running to the fence. One is a huge black Lab and the other is a very small dog—not quite a beagle—...

    • Questions about Reading That Children Frequently Ask
      (pp. 71-74)

      #1 –What was your favorite book as a child?

      It is difficult for me to single out one favorite book, as I have read and enjoyed many over the years. As I think back to some that I read as a young boy, one that comes to mind isHans Brinkerby Mary M. Doge. I have always been fascinated by ice skating and I think that it must have been a thrill for the kids in Holland to skate down the dikes.

      #2 –How does reading help with your career or hobbies?

      I am always looking things...


    • Developing a Comic Strip
      (pp. 77-83)

      One of the hardest things for a beginner to do is merely to get started on his first set of comic strips. It is strange that most people who have ambitions in the cartoon field are not willing to put in the great amount of work that many other people do in comparable fields. Most people who have comic-strip ambition wish to be able to draw only two or three weeks’ material and then have it marketed. They are not willing to go through many years of apprenticeship. Now, by this I do not mean that they are unwilling to...

    • Peanuts—How It All Began
      (pp. 85-87)

      When I was growing up, the three main forms of entertainment were the Saturday afternoon serials at the movie houses, the late afternoon radio programs, and the comic strips. My dad was always a great comic strip reader, and he and I made sure that we always bought all four of the Sunday newspapers published in St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. I grew up with only one real career desire in life—and that was someday to draw my own comic strip.

      Naturally, I was also a Walt Disney fan and could draw quite faithfully Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, the...

    • Creativity
      (pp. 89-103)

      Surroundings play a definite role in my kind of creativity. I have found from experience that it is best to work in one single place and have a regular routine. The beauty of the surroundings is not necessarily important. In fact, I feel more comfortable in a small, plain room than I do in a fancy studio.

      My present studio is a very nice little building near the edge of Santa Rosa, California, and it suits our needs quite well. We have many people visiting us each week, and we need considerable storage space and a surprising amount of office...

    • A Career in Cartooning
      (pp. 104-110)

      There is no form of entertainment that comes close to the sustaining power of the comic strip. Some of our most successful features have been running for as long as thirty to fifty years. This means that generations of people have grown up with the characters in the comic strip, and have learned to know them as well as their own friends. Readers demand the daily episodes with a fanaticism that is unbelievable until it is demonstrated or forced into the open by an editor who makes the dreadful mistake of leaving a comic strip out of his paper for...

    • Why 100 Million of Us (GASP!) Read the Comics
      (pp. 111-115)

      There is no field of entertainment that has such a large following, and yet has so little written about it as the comic strip. The daily and Sunday page comic strip artists get no reviews from discerning critics, and have only letters from readers and monthly statements from their various syndicates to tell them how they are doing. Thus, when a book is published that calls itselfThe Funnies: An AmericanIdiom, edited by David Manning White and Robert H. Abel (Free Press of Glencoe, 1963), a host of cartoonists across the land rejoice to see that their neglected medium...

    • Happiness Is a Lot of Assignments
      (pp. 116-122)

      When Kirk Polking called to ask me to do this article, I was very pleased for several reasons. Ever since I was a teen-ager, I have been an avid reader ofWriter’s Yearbook, buying it each season, and devouring every word as I dreamed of the day when I would be drawing my own comic strip. Then, too, I felt it was about time that I cleared up some of the misconceptions that arose when the article appeared about us in theSaturday Evening Post(April 25, 1964). This article appeared to have been chopped up quite a bit, and...

    • On Staying Power
      (pp. 123-125)

      A cartoonist is someone who has to draw the same thing day after day after day without repeating himself.

      Sometimes there are days when ideas come very rapidly, but unfortunately, there are also days when nothing comes at all, and no matter how hard I try to draw something philosophical and meaningful, something to touch the hearts of everyone, I find it impossible.

      At times like these, I never stop trying. I sit at my drawing board and make up little conversations with myself, searching my past for ideas, drawing Snoopy and the others in different poses, hoping something new...

    • Address to the National Cartoonists Society Convention
      (pp. 126-139)

      BRUCE BEATTIE, National Cartoonist Society President: I’d like to welcome all of you to the first of two wonderful seminars this morning. It’s my hope that the seminars become a regular feature of this convention. I know that we all come here to socialize, but we are all resources for one another, and I think we ought to start taking advantage of that.

      I can think of no person more qualified to be the leadoff speaker for this seminar program than Charles Schulz. He is the winner of two Reuben Awards, he has won numerous Peabody and Emmy awards, and...

    • Pleasures of the Chalk-Talk
      (pp. 141-143)

      As a general rule, I must admit that I am not overly fond of giving chalk-talks. I always enjoy myself while I am actually performing, but after it is all over, and I have loaded my equipment back into my car, I suddenly find myself with that long lonesome drive home, and I wonder to myself, “Why in the world did I do this?”

      Well, let’s talk about the “why” for a moment. One reason, and the most important, is a feeling of gratitude for being able to make a living doing something you enjoy so much. Somehow, this seems...

  7. MY ART

    • The Theme of Peanuts
      (pp. 147-163)

      The initial theme ofPeanutswas based on the cruelty that exists among children. I recall all too vividly the struggle that takes place out on the playground. This is a struggle that adults grow away from and seem to forget about. Adults learn to protect themselves. In this day of organized sports for children, we forget how difficult it once was for smaller children to set up any kind of ball game at a playground because so often there were older and bigger kids to interrupt the fun. I have always despised bullies, and even though someone once suggested...

    • But a Comic Strip Has to Grow
      (pp. 164-169)

      Drawing a daily comic strip is not unlike having an English theme hanging over your head every day for the rest of your life. I was never very good at writing those English themes in high school, and I usually put them off until the last minute. The only thing that saves me in trying to keep up with a comic strip schedule is the fact that it is quite a bit more enjoyable.

      I am really a comic strip fanatic and always have been. When I was growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota, we subscribed to both local newspapers...

    • What Do You Do with a Dog That Doesn’t Talk?
      (pp. 171-177)

      Comic-strip characters, I have noticed after 30 years of drawingPeanuts, come and go quickly. Some work better than others. Some don’t work at all. Some, like Snoopy, are so strong that they tend, if you let them, to take over the strip. Others, like Frieda, with the naturally curly hair, drop by the wayside, either because they do not inspire enough things that are funny, or because the artist has outgrown them. But the turnover is still nowhere near as great, I’m happy to be able to say, as it is with the characters in your average television series....

  8. Appendix

    • Pale Horse, Pale Rider
      (pp. 179-186)
      Katherine Anne Porter
    • A Poem for Jeannie
      (pp. 187-188)
  9. Index
    (pp. 189-193)