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"Good Ol' Charles Schulz"

American Masters

Everybody loves Peanuts. No question about that.

But why?

Indeed, why have millions of readers, young and old, connected with Charles "Sparky" Schulz's creations for year after year, decade after decade?

The answer to such a question is undoubtedly complex. I felt as if I found a clue though while watching PBS's new American Masters documentary "Good Ol' Charles Schulz." There was a moment midway through when it all became suddenly clear; it is during an interview with managing comics editor Sarah Gillespie, who recounts an incident when Sparky got bent out of shape after one of her editors had changed a bit of punctuation in one of his strips.

Perhaps within this seemingly innocuous moment lies the secret to what makes Peanuts a classic: the simple fact that Schulz always fought to retain the integrity of his characters. He managed to do so through nearly eighteen thousand comic strips (17,897 to be exact), countless animated TV specials and a massive licensing and merchandising program.

As cartoonist Jules Feiffer explains in the documentary, Schulz never hired assistants to do his lettering or inking, as is normal practice for many newspaper comic artists. From every word his characters spoke down to every mark made on the paper, Peanuts was Charles Schulz's baby. Those four panelled pieces of paper were Sparky's passion, and he was as committed to those as Rembrandt was to his canvas.

The success of Peanuts is a testament to one man's uncompromising creative vision. In a day and age when artists attempt to please the whims of TV networks, newspaper syndicates, ad agencies and corporations, in fact everybody but themselves, Schulz's work reminds us that pursuing one's own creative instincts is often the wisest path.

Maybe we connect with the Peanuts characters because Schulz encouraged us to by never betraying the character's personalities or the world that they lived in. The cartoon universe that Charlie Brown and gang inhabit is unique because it was created and molded by one individual, a true American master. His name was Charles Schulz.

Comments

Charlie Brown,has become an almost real life personality. His naieve personality is almost our own.
Years ago there was a similar cartoon strip which presented, during our Country's Depression, a character which became a legend.. Li'l Abner. His creator addressed many of the political issues we faced and helped us see the humor in our society. It is too bad someone has not collected all of that Creators work, to publish as a collection..Many of his episodes taught us to appreciate a more simplistic approach to Social Issues. J.

I would love to be able to comment, but AETN did not show the program, even though it was on their schedule.

charlie brown was something you could count on.if all else went wrong there was good old charlie brown.he brought me through some tough times.he will always have a place in my heart and home

What a magnificent tribute to a man who apparently had no clue, even to the end of his life, just how much he was loved and valued by millions for the work of art he created. Thank you for making this episode of AMERICAN MASTERS. The world is far the poorer for the loss of Sparky Schulz...but far the richer for having had him for so long, drawing 50 years' worth of PEANUTS strips. God bless you all.

Thanks Charlie Brown and Sir Charles for his real life insight and wit.That's Art. I like Snoopy too!Oh and PigPen and that cloud of dust.

Kelly Curry

I spent most of my life reading Peanuts, and the profile of Charles Shultz on American Masters reminded me of just how much that comic strip meant to me. Along with Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts was the only comic strip that could make me laugh out loud. I loved it, and I loved Charlie Brown. Even though in the last few years of the strip I felt it was only a shadow of its once-great self, it was always welcome in my home.
What an wonderful profile of a complex man.

What a marvelous program. Touching and thoughtful. Bringing back wonderful memories of my children being glued to the TV watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas".

The wonder of Charles Schulz was that he was able to surprise our emotions with his distilled simplicity . Great show. And a touching tribute.

Thanks for bringing it to us.

I grew up with Charlie Brown and the gang. We're old friends.
And I so enjoyed the program tonight on Charles Schulz's life. It spoke volumes! Those of us who loved the strip can so relate. So thank you, Chuck! And God bless! And please, PBS, make this segment available for purchase!

My e-mail name is from this comic strip. I hope to watch "A Charlie Brown Christmas", this year and many years with my grandson. I love Linus telling us the meaning of Christmas. The documentary made me want to read about Charles Schulz life. Some days I would read the comic and it would be exactly what life is! Both sweet and sad.

Thank you Sparky...

Please show this segment again soon, for all that might have missed it.

And, please make it available for purchase. I feel I must have it to file with all the Charlie Brown movies I have so far.

Thank you PBS and Met Life...

LK

I regret I only got to see the last 20 min. of Am. Masters "Good Ol' Charles Schulz". I do hope it will be available for purchase through PBS. I grew up reading Peanuts and I'm not sure but what my personality has been influenced by the characters of the strip (especially Lucy), their interactions among each other, and the wisdom of life's lessons. It saddens me to think future generations may not have the opportunity to appreciate Peanuts as my generation (the Baby-boomers) have.

Great art touches people where they feel and live. The artists who create it do more for our lives than could ever know. Charles Schulz is a true American Master. Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang still give expression to how I felt as a child and now as a sixty year old adult.


This lovely biography brought tears to my eyes and touched my heart for when I was 7 years old, all I wanted was a Snoopy
stuff doll. My grandmother worked at J.M. in San Francisco
where I am from. I saved 20.00 of my hard earned money, ironing
my dad's hankerchiefs. Seemed like forever till those wrinkles would come out. But finally I had my
Snoopy in my arms.
Good Bless Charles Schulz for giving us the American Dream.
A comic which spoke a real life. His

What wonderful memories this program brought back to mind, while watching "Good Ol' Charles Schulz", a true American Master. The Peanuts strip made everyday a worthwhile event. Thanks so much for the experience. I hope it will be shown again soon.

Thank you for broadcasting this wonderful program "Good Ol' Charles Schulz. It provided much insight into the man behind the familiar characters, who showed us that it was alright to ask the hard questions that sometimes have no answer. A beautiful piece and I would love for it to be available for purchase. Thank you so much.

Thank you for a wonderful program about such a true artist and genius. It was insightful, touching and so interesting to learn what a very complex man Sparky was. I hope the program becomes available for purchase.

One Christmas, my husband brought home a small, dilapidated evergreen tree from the project where he worked. Our family dubbed it "the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree." We all remember that time fondly, just as I remember the enjoyment "Peanuts" brought to my life. Thank you Sparky!

I missed part of the program, hope it airs again or will be available for purchase. My husband and I are Peanuts fans, have been collecting memorabilia for years. The characters are like an alter ego for regular folks.
Thanks for a great show!

In the third grade we were asked to write to someone famous. I chose Charles Shultz. I wrote to him not expecting anything. I was suprised to receive a personal drawing of Charlie Brown autographed with a nice note wishing me well. My parents framed these items and I still have them today. What a great thing to do for a child.

I was born in 1967 and grew up with Schulz and Peanuts. My family and I would never miss a Peanuts special (always sponsored by Dolly Madison) and I still enjoy his comic strip today. The day that he died, I felt like I lost a family member. I still miss him today. Fortunately, I have the memories of Schulz, Charlie Brown, and the other characters to pass on to my own sons.

Although we intended to watch the show (or at least tape it), we forgot to tune in due to all the school homework last night. Would you please show this episode again for those of us who missed it?

We would also like to purchase the show when available. We are avid collectors of anything Charlie Brown and Peanuts.

Thank you PBS for bringing this show to television.

Theresa Hamel

Thank you for a wonderful program. I cried at least two or three times, both from memories of growing up with Peanuts calendars on my walls and watching the TV specials and, especially, from learning about the personal struggles Charles Schultz had, which often led to his best material. I remember the outpouring of affection when he announced he was retiring and the surprise he exhibited at it all. I have The Great Pumpkin by the VCR, ready to watch again this week. God Bless you Sparky.

Peanuts has been a part of my life for decades. A friend I met in college had books of the very earliest Peanuts and it was a delight to see the beginnings of such a brilliant comic. It was amazing how everyone's "inner child" was reached by the Peanuts characters, by Mr. Schulz. But how sad to hear of his family problems. I suppose Genius has its drawbacks.

I had looked forward to seeing this show for over a month, only to learn that it wasn't being shown locally on WNED in Buffalo. I emailed the station to ask if we would eventually get to see it. So far, I haven't received a reply. Hey, what's up Buffalo? We're Peanuts fans, too. Good grief!

I grew up on Charlie Brown and Peanuts and just loved this special. I think I cried almost the entire program and especially during his interview with Al Roker when he knew the time was coming near. When he died I felt like I had lost a close family member. Thank goodness we will always have the memories of better times. Thank you Charles Schultz!

i have a copy of mr.schulz last peanuts dated 2-13-00 i will cherich forever. i like the scene where lucy is a psychiatic for only 5 cents. (the doctor is in) when i need a laugh i look at it. much love evonne b. walker

In the 1950's I would come home from school and wait for the evening newspaper just so I could read Peanuts. I loved the strip then and I love it now. I expecially like Snoopy and Woodstock. Thanks PBS and Met Life for the wonderful program.
Good grief, the world was blessed with a great man and cartoonist.

I cried at the end. That last interview on the Today Show did me in. I grew up with the wonderful and insightful Charlie Brown, but had no idea of the depth of emotion of the creator. No one is perfect and it is obvious that Mr. Schultz was a complicated man. I found it quite poignant that he refused therapy because it would change the strip. Wow, it's like he gave his life to his art.

I watched this with my dad last night. It was beautiful and brought tears to both of our eyes.

Hello and Thank you,

I grew up with Charlie Brown. I was five in 1950 and "Peanuts " was always a part of my life.

I like to think that Charles Schulz kicked the football as he entered the Pearly Gates.

With love,

Joseph M. Barno

Peanuts--a cartoon strip that actually moved me.

I was fascinated with Peanuts as a kid. It inspired me to start cartooning over thirty years ago. Cartooning is my passion; and the catalyst was the paperback "It's for You, Snoopy." (1974). In 1998 I was fortunate to meet Charles Schulz at the Warm Puppy Cafe in Santa Rosa. He invited me back to his studio. This became the BEST DAY of my life. Our meeting was unplanned, but he treated me as if I was the most important person in the world. He was so humble, he did not understand why I was so excited being in his presence. He actually helped me with my characters' design. My cartooning is so much better because of the time I spent with him. As I left his studio, he told me to never give up. I won't give up. I cartoon every day. I have a wonderful photo of our meeting and some funny comics on my website. Bunscomic.com

Thanks Sparky!

Steven Hill

Thank you for airing this insightful and loving tribute Charles Schulz. I only ask that KCET schedule as soon as possible another airing of this American Masters program, preferably during the Prime Time programming.

Once again, thank you to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Schulz, a true American Icon.

Ruthanne Rozenek

I wish this American Masters with Charles Schultz was on on DVD. It would make nice CHRISTMAS gifts.

The very large problem with Mr. Schulz' life these days... is that it's not really his any more.

His life has been written by David Michaelis and commented on by many, including Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson. A lot of people seem to have an opinion about Mr. Schulz.

I don't know of the politics of the Biography, but it was released after Mr. Schulz passed on, and he certainly wasn't able to comment on or about it. And that isn't fair to his life. And even more strangely, Mr. Watterson's review of the book treats the biography as sacrosanct and comments on Mr. Schulz' life as if the book actually WAS Schulz life. It wasn't.

At the very most it is someone's opinion about many other friend's and family's personal and collective opinions.

Just like the written Biography, this PBS special was someone's ideas about someone... certainly not anything more than just someone's opinion.

It's very easy to organize and edit people's comments and commentary for a documentary so that it will mean whatever you want it to mean... The director and/or the final editor have the last word... and obviously the PBS' show's atmosphere and mood was to ally itself with the written biography and portray Mr. Schulz as a very lonely and psychologically disturbed guy. Just listen to the music.

it is, however and nice piece... just be careful to see through all the opinion and manipulated opinion.

Of course this is just my opinion,
albabe (The Writer/Inker formally known as Al Gordon)

Having grown up with Sparky (Charles) Schulz earlier in my life I knew him well. He was a friend of my parents and very much involved in our church activities. I attended Joyce and Charles private wedding ceremony in the home of the bride's parents. I knew him well. He truly was a gentleman of integrity, humility, and great intellect. We all miss him very much.

Joan Bailey

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