On October 2, 1950, “Peanuts” comic strip featuring Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and their friends first appeared in 8 newspapers. Written and drawn by Charles M. Schultz, “Peanuts” was published for nearly 50 years. The final daily version of the strip was published on Jan 3, 2000, and its creator passed away on February 12, 2000. Oddly enough, the final original Sunday “Peanuts” comic strip was published the day after Charles Schultz’s death.
I grew up reading “Peanuts,” and still enjoy it in reprints and on television specials. Good old Charlie Brown, the meek anti-hero of the comic strip, called out to those of us who understood his lack of self-confidence. We admired his determined persistence in the face of almost certain failure. Charlie Brown couldn’t fly a kite; he managed and played on a baseball team that didn’t win. He endlessly tried to punt a football only to have Lucy pull it away. He got rocks for Halloween, picked a straggly Christmas tree, served a sub-par Thanksgiving dinner, and had an empty mailbox on Valentine’s Day. Charlie Brown represented all of us who weren’t the “popular kids” at school.
The other character I identified with was Snoopy. Yes, I know he’s a dog – but a dog of superior intelligence with a rich imagination. Snoopy’s thought bubbles revealed the multiple and fascinating lives he lived in his imagination. He was not just a beagle — he was a World War I flying ace, Joe Cool on a college campus, a hockey player, Olympic figure skater, grocery clerk, and astronaut. Snoopy was also a Scout leader for his buddy Woodstock and his feathered friends.
But my favorite imaginary Snoopy role was best-selling novelist. Perhaps it was because I, too, dreamed of writing that best-selling book. As soon as I saw Snoopy sitting by his typewriter, I knew I’d like the comics that day. And I always smiled when I saw the first line from the 1830 novel “Paul Clifford” written by Englishman Edward Bulwer-Lytton: “It was a dark and stormy night…”
So Happy Birthday Snoopy & Charlie Brown! And thank you, Charles Schultz. You have made millions smile, given a voice to the underdog, and celebrated those who daydream. This evening, I shall do a brief, but enthusiastic Happy Snoopy Dance, then sit in front of my keyboard to try to write that best-selling novel.