Cartoonists honor ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles M. Schulz for 100th birthday in Saturday funny pages

NEW YORK — Cartoonists across the country are celebrating the 100th birthday of “Peanuts” creator Charles M. Schulz the way only they can – with cartoons.

More than 75 syndicated cartoonists put tributes, Easter eggs and references to “Peanuts” in Saturday’s funny papers to honor the creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy & Co.

“It’s a tribute to what is probably the greatest cartoonist in the world,” said cartoonist Patrick McDonnell, who creates the daily Mutts strip for 700 newspapers. “After ‘Peanuts’ the cartoon world changed. I think most working cartoonists today would say that he was the inspiration for them to become cartoonists.”

The list of participating strips ranges from “BC”, “Dennis the Menace” and “Rhymes With Orange” to “Zippy the Pinhead” and “Zits”. Each artist was encouraged to find their own way to honor Schulz, who was known as “Sparky”.

John Kovaleski, who draws “Daddy Daze,” has drawn the strip’s father, Paul, and infant, Angus, discussing “Peanuts” on an open newspaper. “Ba-ba?” asks the baby. To which Dad replies, “It’s ‘Peanuts’ by Charles M. Schulz. He revolutionized the comic book side by adding depth, character and emotion.”

John Hambrock, creator of The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee, lured visiting World War I pilot Snoopy into his strip, and Edison asked his father for “extra aviation fuel.” The cartoonist also decorated the family home with framed pictures of Charlie Brown and Lucy.

“We left everything to them. Cartoonists are creative people. When you have a deadline every day, you have to have ideas,” McDonnell said. “I think people enjoyed the challenge of coming up with something to express their love and admiration for this guy.”

McDonnell, who serves on the board of directors of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, dreamed up the honor and he and “JumpStart” cartoonist Robb Armstrong contacted the various cartoon syndicates with their plan.

“I’m pretty sure that when you open the paper this morning, the whole comic page is going to be a tribute to Sparky,” McDonnell said. “I’m personally looking forward to the surprise this Saturday to see what people have done.”

For his tribute, McDonnell repaid a kindness Schulz showed him. In a 1999 “Peanuts” film, Schulz drew his cartoon boys and girls visiting a museum and rerun off to the side while glancing respectfully at a painting of the dog Earl from “Mutts.”

A framed copy of this strip hangs proudly over McDonnell’s drafting table: “I look at it every day and think of what a wonderful gesture that was and what a wonderful man and what a wonderful comic strip.”

In return, readers of “Mutts” Earl will see him gazing up affectionately – little tail wagging – at a framed picture of Snoopy at a museum this Saturday. “Mine pretty personal,” McDonnell said.

“Peanuts” made its debut on October 2, 1950. The troubles of the “round-headed little kid” Charlie Brown and his cronies eventually appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 75 countries.

The strip featured persistent images of kites in trees, Charlie Brown attempting to kick a football, sharp-tongued Lucy doling out advice for a nickel at a lemonade stand, and Snoopy occasionally flying high. Phrases like “security blanket” and “good mourning” are part of global usage. Schulz died in 2000.

“‘Peanuts’ was everything. I read ‘Peanuts’ books every night, so I’ve wanted to be a cartoonist since I was 4. Actually having my own little cartoon character in ‘Peanuts’ – that’s still amazing,” he told McDonnell. “I look at it every morning and I still can’t believe it happened.”

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Cartoonists honor ‘Peanuts’ creator Charles M. Schulz for 100th birthday in Saturday funny pages

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