arts & entertainment
Still nutty about
PEANU TS (C) 2011 PEANU TS WORLD WIDE LLC.
The Costco Connection
The Peanuts Deluxe Holiday Collection is
available in most Costco warehouses. The
set includes remastered versions of It’s the
Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; A Charlie
Brown Thanksgiving; and A Charlie Brown
Christmas, along with a bonus six-song CD
of music from the soundtrack for A Charlie
mated film, Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, is
drawn in more of the ’60s style many fans
know and love.
“Sometimes keeping up is going backwards,” Jean Schulz laughs.
Jean Schulz recalls her
By Stephanie E. Ponder
husband’s timeless works
WHEN I WAS growing up, the time between
the beginning of October and the end of the
year had three distinct markers: the airing of
the Charlie Brown Halloween, Thanksgiving
and Christmas specials.
It’s hard to believe that 2011 marks the
46th year of airing A Charlie Brown Christmas.
It was the first of the Peanuts holiday specials
and was soon followed by It’s the Great
Pumpkin, Charlie Brown in 1966
and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
Back then, the Ponder kids
couldn’t just pull out a DVD
every time we had a hankering
to see Linus waiting patiently
in his “most sincere pumpkin patch” or the Peanuts
gang decorating what looks to
be the world’s most pitiful Christmas tree.
Jean Schulz, widow of Peanuts creator
Charles Schulz, says the specials built up a following because they were on only once a year,
in an era that predated the constant access of
home videos or DVDs. “There were people
who looked forward to [them],” she notes.
However, she adds, today’s children have a
“rapport with the characters because someone is sharing the Peanuts with them.”
Jean Schulz was married to the cartoonist
for 26 years. (She, along with most people who
knew him, called Charles “Sparky.”) She was
the inspiration for Charlie Brown’s younger
sister, Sally, who referred to Linus, the
object of her affection, as “my sweet
Baboo.” It was a term of endearment
she often used for her husband.
Providing insight into some of her
husband’s work, Schulz shares that, “like
any other artist, he didn’t like the draw-
ings he did yesterday. He had the
attitude that it was in the past. He
was more interested in solving prob-
lems and breaking new ground.”
This distaste for past work resulted in a
team updating the drawings for all of the ani-
mated specials released throughout the ’70s
and ’80s. Schulz explains that because her hus-
band’s style changed in drawing the comic
strip, he also wanted all of the subsequent TV
specials to reflect the updated look of the
characters. However, the latest Peanuts ani-
When it comes to interpreting the late
Charles Schulz’s work, his widow has a few
thoughts on the popularity of the Peanuts
characters. “Sparky hit the personality types
so clearly and so generally,” she explains.
“ ‘Fussbudget’ covers a lot of territory. He hit
[those personality traits] so beautifully.
“What Sparky did in the comic strip over
50 years was to plumb everything he felt, came
up against, and found a way to present it back
to people with a funny twist.”
She adds, “He used to say he had a rep-
ertory company. No matter what he came
up with, he had a character who could play
The group of children in Peanuts offered
a surprising amount of versatility, covering
disappointment, crushes and even, some
would argue, philosophy.
After Charles Schulz passed away in 2000,
Jean set about creating a museum dedicated
to preserving, displaying and interpreting her
husband’s art. Based in Santa Rosa, California,
the museum ( www.schulzmuseum.org), a Costco
member, opened in 2002.
Even though one of the museum’s goals
is to interpret the cartoonist’s work, Schulz
says Charles was pretty clear about reading
too much into Peanuts.
“He had an expression: ‘For crying out
loud, it’s a comic strip,’ ” Schulz says. “He would
say, ‘I’m just trying to draw something that’s
funny every day and get it in the paper.’ ” C