Good Grief! 18 Facts About Charles Schulz's Peanuts Comics
Peanutsis an indelible part of American culture. Charles Schulz’s comic strip about a pensive boy named Charlie Brown and his friends made its debut on October 2, 1950. By 1999, it was running in 2600 newspapers in 75 countries, and it’s still in plenty of papers today, though its creator is no longer around. The characters are an iconic part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. They show up in theme parks and MetLife insurance commercials. And You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown was one of the most popular high school musicals of the 1970s and ‘80s.
In 2015, Chuck and his pals went where they’d never gone before: 3D. The Peanuts Movie, written with Charles Schulz’s son and grandson, Craig and Bryan Schulz, brought the gang back to the big screen for the first time in 35 years. Here are some things you might not know about the beloved strip and its many media offshoots.
1. Charlie Brown was modeled after Charles Schulz.
“We always say that each of the characters represents a piece of our dad,” Craig Schulz, Charles’ son, says in a new book about the production of the new movie, The Art and Making of the Peanuts Movie. “Charlie Brown was his real self, while Snoopy was what he wanted to be.”
2. There are 17,897 Peanuts comic strips.
They ran between 1950 and 2000, each one drawn by Schulz. Schulz died from colon cancer at age 77, the day before the last original strip ran.
3. Charles Schulz didn’t choose the name Peanuts (nor did he like it).
Charlie Brown first appeared as a character in a comic strip called Li'l Folks, but when Schulz approached the United Feature Syndicate about a publishing deal in 1950, the syndication service thought the name was too close to two other comics it ran at the time, and changed it to Peanuts. Schulz never liked the new moniker; he thought it "made it sound too insignificant."
4. Iconic Peanuts characters like Lucy and Linus didn’t show up until years into the comic.
The first Peanuts strip featured Shermy, Patty (a separate character from Peppermint Patty), and Charlie Brown. It ran in seven newspapers in October 1950.
5. In the early Peanuts strips, Lucy was younger than Charlie Brown.
In her first comic strip in March 1952, Lucy was a toddler. Later, Schulz decided to make her Charlie Brown’s peer. Lucy would later be the character to observe “Happiness is a warm puppy” in an April 1960 strip.
6. Linus didn’t speak for the first two years of Peanuts strips.
He appeared as Lucy’s security-blanketed younger brother in September 1952, but didn’t get a line in the comic until 1954.
7. Franklin’s first appearance in the Peanuts comic was in July 1968.
In it, Franklin recovers Charlie Brown’s lost beach ball. At the time, Franklin’s inclusion was seen as controversial, and Schulz received letters complaining about the character.
8. Charlie Brown got close to getting an EGOT.
Only a dozen people have won each of the entertainment industry’s biggest awards: an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. Peanutsprojects won two Grammies, four Emmy awards, and two Tony awards. They've only gotten an Oscar nomination, though:A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969) got a nod for Best Original Song Score.
9. The first piece of music in the Peanuts strip was by Rachmaninoff.
Schroeder loves Beethoven (and his house at 1770 James Street is a nod to the composer’s birth year) but the first piece he played in the strip was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s "Prelude in G Minor."
10. In most of the Peanuts comics, Marcie has no eyes.
Marcie’s glasses mask her eyes throughout most of the original comic, only appearing in rare moments, like a May 1980 strip where Peppermint Patty tries to convince her to wear her glasses on top of her head. (Obviously, she runs into a telephone pole.)
11. The little red-haired girl is never fully seen in the Peanuts comic strip.
The daily strip only showed the object of Charlie Brown’s affections once, in silhouette, in 1998. He did get to meet her in the television special It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, which aired in 1977.
12. Snoopy has five siblings.
Spike was the first Snoopy brother, introduced in 1975 and named after Charles Schulz’s childhood pup. Snoopy’s other siblings include Marbles, Olaf, Andy, and his only sister, Belle.
13. There were 45 Peanuts TV specials.
A Charlie Brown Christmas, the first television special, won an Emmy and a Peabody award. Since its debut in 1965, Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson have produced 44 others, including classics like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. December will mark the 50th anniversary of the Charlie Brown Christmas special, which was originally commissioned and sponsored by Coca-Cola.
14. Charlie Brown’s head is really hard to draw.
When asked about the hardest character trait to ink, Paige Braddock, the creative director of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, admitted that Charlie Brown’s noggin is the most complicated piece to pull off. “It is nearly impossible to get right when you first start working with the characters, and if it is off in the least, it really stands out,” she says in The Art and Making of the Peanuts Movie. Braddock is currently responsible for the look of all Peanuts-related products.
15. There are two Peanuts head types.
“If you look closely, you will notice there are only two head types, one modeled after the Browns, the other after the Van Pelts,” San Jun Lee, the lead character designer for the new movie, says in the book. What really differentiates the characters, and makes them instantly recognizable, is their hair.
16. Snoopy’s eyes are on the same side of his face.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that Snoopy’s eyes are on the same side of his nose. It looks natural in the comic, but was a particular challenge to animate in 3D.
17. In CGI, Charlie Brown has a lot of hair.
Though Charlie Brown only gets a single line of curlicue hair in the comic, in the movie, it’s a strand of 219 hairs coiled like a spring.
18. Charlie Brown is in the mail.
Even the U.S. Postal Service loves A Charlie Brown Christmas. In 2015, to mark the 65th anniversary of the comic and the 50th anniversary of the television special, the USPS released Forever stamps with images like Snoopy ice skating, Linus kneeling with the Christmas tree, and Charlie Brown checking the mail for a Christmas card. The Peanuts gang also got a commemorative stamp from the USPS in 2001.