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Much Grief, Charles Schulz Passes

On the eve of the final PEANUTS comic strip, creator Charles Schulz died of

a heart attack at his Santa Rosa, California home. He was 77 years old. As

reported [AF 11/21/99], Charles Schulz had decided to retire from drawing

his weekly comic strip after several strokes and newly diagnosed cancer had

left him partially blind in one eye and too weak to keep up with the

rigorous routine. A private funeral will be held later this week. He is

survived by his wife, Jeannie; two sons Monte and Craig; and daughter Jill

Transki. Printed in newspapers around the world on Sunday was the farewell

strip that featured Snoopy atop his dog house with a typewriter. The

various panels had classic poses from the five-decade-old Sunday morning

favorite: Snoopy flying against the Red Baron; Lucy pulling the football

away from Charlie Brown's kick; Snoopy making a futile attempt to snag

Linus' security blanket; and Lucy giving one last piece of advice at her

psychiatry stand. On a daily basis, PEANUTS is published in more than 2,600

newspapers around the world, reaching 355 million readers in 75 countries

and 21 languages. There have been more than 50 PEANUTS animated TV

specials, more than 1,400 books selling 300 million copies and four feature

films, not to mention museum retrospectives and Web page tributes. The

first PEANUTS strip appeared in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950. Since

then, PEANUTS became the most widely syndicated comic strip in history.

Schulz has always refused to let another artist draw PEANUTS and has also

written every TV special starting with A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS which has

aired every year since its debut.

The man brought the world the loveable loser Charlie Brown. Schulz said, in

a TV tribute which aired the night before his death, "We always stare at

the people holding the trophies over their heads, but we relate to the

losers more. More people know how it feels to lose." Schulz made fans laugh

at life's little problems. The PEANUT gang was insightfully neurotic before

neurotic became a household word. Schulz said in a February 11, 2000 CBS

tribute that he never wrote about anything he didn't know. He put only

himself into all his strips. "I suppose I've always felt...apprehensive,

anxious, that sort of thing," Schulz said in an interview in 1989. "I have

compared it sometimes to the feeling that you have when you get up on the

morning of a funeral." The same grief PEANUTS fans will feel next Sunday

morning as they flip to the comics' page. When asked why there is so much

unrequited love in his strip, Schulz said, "I seem to be fascinated with

unrequited love, if not obsessed by it. . .There's something funny about

unrequited love." Unrequited love is something Schulz didn't feel for the

PEANUTS or from his fans. Schulz printed this good-bye in the final PEANUTS

strip -- "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. . . Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy. . .how can I ever

forget them." No one will ever forget Charles Schulz either.

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Rick DeMott
Animation World Network
Creator of Rick's Flicks Picks