There’s many places you might expect to find Peanuts today: Hallmark cards, Happy Meals, Apple TV, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. But how about on the cover of a national magazine discussing sex education in America?
On November 24, 1986, Charles Schulz lent his talents and his characters to TIME magazine as part of a national push to expand sex education in schools during the AIDS epidemic. In many ways this seemed an odd fit for Schulz. Countless features over the years had highlighted the fact that Schulz had long been a Sunday school teacher (though he was no longer a…
This weekend while I was working on some painting around the house, my daughter raced in with the excitement of a fresh discovery.
My mother-in-law lives with us and likes to have McDonald’s Happy Meals for lunch many days. She’ll always buy extra toys for all the grandkids and she keeps them in a bin in her room as a reward. So in her most recent trip to this treasure box, she had come across something she thought her dad would like: Snoopy books!
Spring is in the air, the Easter Beagle is on his way, and Charlie Brown’s America is coming soon!!
In fact, the lastest news is that the book hits the printing press TODAY!!! So that means your pre-ordered copy (get yours HERE or HERE or HERE) of Charlie Brown’s America is coming into the world TODAY!!!
You are absolutely going to love this book, I just know it. In addition to all the different topics (the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, feminism, environmentalism, Christian evangelicalism, and more) and characters covered, you’ll also find 40 large images…
One of the last chapters I wrote for my upcoming book, Charlie Brown’s America (releasing May 4th), dealt with Peanuts in the 1950s. It was one of the last chapters I wrote because it was one of the most difficult chapters to write.
It’s not that I didn’t try. In grad school I wrote four different full versions of that chapter (each about 50 manuscript pages), but none of them were right. I just could not get my head around how to understand the meteoric rise of Peanuts in the 1950s.
For anyone that has read the 1950s strips, you…
When I originally decided to write about Peanuts back in 2010, the first thing I had to do was read them all. That’s no small task with Schulz’s magnum opus. In all, Schulz wrote and drew 17,897 strips (15,391 dailies and 2,506 Sunday strips)! Spanning right at fifty years, it is one of the longest consistent stories ever told by an individual in human history.
And over those thousands of strips, there were many surprises I never expected to find.
This week’s strip reminded me some of the elements of Schulz’s career that surprised me to discover when I first voyaged out to his home in Santa Rosa, California in 2011.
Being from Minnesota, Schulz grew up on ice skating and hockey. But in the years after he moved his family to northern California, the only ice rink in their area closed. This is why Schulz invested his own money to construct Redwood Empire Ice Arena, which opened in 1969. His first wife, Joyce, a creative in her own right, helped with the design and aesthetics for the arena.
In October 1964, as the United States was embroiled in one of the most controversial election cycles of the time, Linus ran for class president.
Of course the 1964 presidential campaign pitted Democrat Lyndon Johnson (who had ascended to the office the previous November due to JFK’s assassination) against conservative Republican Barry Goldwater. Goldwater, a senator from Arizona, was noted for his tendency to make extreme statements that his campaign then had to walk back and for attracting the support of conspiratorial groups like the John Birch Society (whom he tried to disassociate from). …
Twenty-one years ago today, the world lost Charles Schulz.
It was a rare stormy day in northern California that day where Schulz had moved his family in the late 1950s. Newspaper editors across the country had already written their headlines coordinated to announce Schulz official retirement. In the early morning hours, however, they scrambled to insert an improbable addendum: the cartoonist had died overnight from complications of stage 4 cancer.
The terrible diagnosis had come earlier the previous fall. The forecast was dire. Retirement was Schulz’s only real option. But how could someone bring an end to the defining work…
A friend on Twitter had the wonderful idea that I should take time on this new page to throw out a weekly Peanuts strip with some commentary.
I love it. Let’s do it!
If you read Peanuts growing up or watched any of the TV specials, one constant in your memory is likely Charlie Brown waiting to receive a Valentine’s Day card.
Of course, this annual occurrence had plenty of good lessons for us as kids. We’re not alone in our difficulties. Be mindful of those who may feel alone around us and do what we can to let them…
In a rambling interview segment that went viral on Twitter last week, Texas Senator Ted Cruz pointed to the films Avenger: Endgame and Watchmen as examples of how “rabid environmentalists are the bad guys” in popular culture. He insisted that the American Left has bought into Malthusian theories of overpopulation and scarce resources. Cruz speaks as a leading voice of the post-Trump Right, an self-assured interpreter of the Freudian subtexts of an American culture he’s certain is dominated by the Left.
Cruz could hardly be more wrong.
Blake Scott Ball is Assistant Professor of History at Huntingdon College. He is the author of Charlie Brown’s America (Oxford University Press, 2021).