Sparky's 100th Birthday

By | Monday, November 28, 2022 1 comment
Charles Schulz's 100th birthday was this past weekend and scores of cartoonists set aside their regular strips to pay tribute to the creator of Peanuts. Each cartoonist had their own take, of course, some simply saying 'thank you' while others replicating some of Schulz's classic iconography and gags while others still working in jokes about the characters themselves. The Schulz Museum has posted them all on their site, so I won't copy them here, but I did want to make a few callouts on some specific strips.
  • Barney Google & Snuffy Smith -- Schulz was indeed nicknamed "Sparky" after the horse in Barney Google. (The now-titular Snuffy Smith wouldn't be introduced until 1934.) The horse debuted in the strip about five months before Schulz was born and was a wildly popular character for a time, hence Schulz's uncle giving him the nickname. Although clearly no longer worked on by its original creator Billy DeBeck, who passed away in 1942, it's still strikes me as wild that the strip has outlasted Schulz.
  • Curtis -- I'm pretty sure "Just chillin', homie" isn't current slang these days and it feels kind of stilted, but it's still radically more hip that anything Schulz ever wrote into Peanuts. Mostly, I'm just amused Ray Billingsley opted to deliberately give Charlie Brown wildly out-of-character dialogue.
  • Drabble -- Schulz is obviously well-known for his drawings. I've blogged before of the iconography of Schulz's front porch. But Kevin Fagan gives us an excellent reminder of how critical and iconic the very language used in Peanuts was. Any one of those terms immediately elicits an entire string of old comics from memory.
  • Family Circus -- Family Circus started in 1960; Billy is canonically seven, so the earliest you could claim he was three would be 1956. But that's six years into Peanuts' run, so the timeline doesn't work to say Billy saw Peanuts' debut. I think it would've been cool if the timing could've lined up on this better.
  • For Better of For Worse -- The strip has been in reruns since 2008. Lynn Johnston came out of retirement for this! ❤️
  • Mary Worth -- The Peanuts strip Mary is reading originally ran on January 13, 1991. I am unsure if it holds any particular significance for either Karen May or June Brigman, but it happens to be the Sunday strip used when Fantagraphics announced their Peanuts Every Sunday 1991-1995 collection.
  • Mutts -- Patrick McDonnell is referencing a Peanuts strip from January 28, 1999 in which Schulz drew his characters at the very same museum depicted here, but the picture of Snoopy was originally one of Mutts' protagonist Earl.
  • Pearls Before Swine -- Shelock Holmes debuted in Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, which was first published in 1887, making Holmes a 19th century character, not a twentieth century one.
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