'Peanuts' Cartoonist Schulz Dies at 77

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Charles M Schulz, the creator of "Peanuts," died Saturday evening at his home in Santa Rosa, California at the age of 77 after suffering from cancer, and a series of strokes following surgery in November, said his son Craig Schulz.

Charlie Brown's fatalistic trademark expression "Good grief!" might serve as a fitting commentary on the timing of Schulz's death on the eve of the final original publication of what was largely considered to be the most popular comic strip in the world.

Born in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 26, 1922, Schulz studied art before he was drafted into the Army in 1943 and sent to Europe during WWII.

After the war, he returned to St. Paul where he wrote his first comic strip "Li'l Folks" for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1950 the strip became syndicated, and the name was changed to "Peanuts," a title that Schulz said later he did not like very much.

During the next fifty years Charlie Brown's frustrations; Lucy Van Pelt's psychiatric advice; her security blanket-toting kid brother Linus' philosophical insights; and Charlie's pool-shooting beagle Snoopy's vainglorious fantasies became regular additions to more than 2,600 newspapers, reaching 355 million readers in 75 countries.

Those characters and others, such as the Beethoven loving pianist, Schroeder; the too cool, Peppermint Patty and her nebbish sidekick, Marcie; Snoopy's bird-brained follower, Woodstock; and the human dust ball, Pigpen, all lived in a two-dimensional world devoid of grownups, but where six-year-olds regularly commented on life's ironies.

One of those ironies was the coinciding of Schulz's death with the end of his comic strip.

Appearing in the Feb. 13 editions of Sunday newspapers around the world, Snoopy surrounded by other strip regulars, sits at his typewriter composing a thank you letter to "Peanuts" readers.

"I have been grateful over the years for the loyalty of our editors and the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans of the comic strip," wrote Snoopy and signed by Schulz.

Maybe in heaven Lucy will finally let Charlie Brown kick the football.