As Peanuts celebrates its 65th anniversary this year, Jeannie Schulz, wife of creator Charles M. Schulz, shares insight into the history and future of the legendary comic strip in an interview with GoComics.
Q: As we celebrate the 65th anniversary of Peanuts, we congratulate you and the entire Peanuts crew on continuing the legacy of Charles Schulz, AKA, "Sparky." Why do you do think Peanuts continues to captivate such a large, loyal audience today?
A: It may sound strange - but I liked this explanation the first time I heard it: Peanuts teaches us what it is to be human. And Sparky said frequently that these are people we would like as our friends. Beyond that, it is the simplicity of the humor and the simplicity of the art which engages people. (Neither is really simple, however, as we know.)
Q: Regarding Peanuts, what was Sparky most proud of?
A: Sparky was extremely proud of the fact that the strip was completely his creation. It was created from his ideas, his sensibility, his mind and his hand.
Q: Do you have a few favorite comic strips you can share with us?
I love Lucy's Zen-like answer. It is a perfect rejoinder to Schroeder's indifference.
This strip, which is midway in a six-day series, perfectly shows Snoopy's mind, which is completely removed from the reality of the Peanuts gang.
When Snoopy replies "Good," his curt answer is funny because it is so typical of the outrн© world he inhabits.
Q: What are a few of your favorite memories of Sparky?
A: Among my favorite memories are walking into his office and seeing him behind his desk, pen or pencil in hand. And also seeing him sitting in his blue lounge chair at home, feet on the ottoman with our little dog, Andy, on his lap. It was perfect contentment on both counts.
Q: Every holiday season, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas" hit it big in the Nielsen ratings. With so many entertainment options available these days, how do you account for the ongoing success of these animated specials?
A: The holiday shows continue to draw viewers because people obviously like to go back to favorite, feel-good traditions, and the charm of these shows does not wear off.
Q: The Peanuts gang is hitting the big screen this November in a new 3D computer-animated film - a very different style from past Peanuts animations. How did you decide to go this route?
A: Regarding the CG animation in the new Peanuts movie, Sparky's son Craig Schulz and his son Bryan worked long and hard on a movie script, going through many scenarios and in the end, working with Fox's Blue Sky Studio was the format they chose.
Q: Sparky has influenced countless artists with his timeless work. How do you think Peanuts will continue to influence the cartooning industry in years to come?
A: I do think Peanuts will continue to influence many young people interested in cartooning. At the same time, every year, someone new comes on the scene and becomes someone to follow. Sparky would have appreciated that, as he felt artists should develop their own style that comes from their own sensibility.
Q: As the President of the Board of Directors at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, what does a typical day look like? What current and upcoming projects are you most excited about?
A: Each day I go into the Museum to see what is going on and the various projects in each department that I can weigh in on. I look over most of the written work - for example, texts for exhibitions, the newsletter, etc. The staff has regular advance meetings to plan every exhibit, and I sit in on those. Also, we look at the comic strips themselves that will be exhibited in our "strip gallery" in order to be able to add interesting comments to the cases. We have artists from Creative Associates who have been working with the artwork for many years who weigh in, and occasionally Sparky's secretary from the late '60s. These are always fun.
Q: What is your hope for the continuing legacy of Peanuts?
A: The Museum was created to show original Peanuts artwork, to collect Peanuts archives and to talk about Sparky's creative life. My hope is that future students and scholars will continue to study at the Museum and continue to discover new aspects of Sparky's work.