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Carl Schulz’s Biography and Artworks


Carl Schulz represents the cohort of those artists, whose works are read with humor, or a cartoonist. They bring joy, lighten spirit and make reader consider perennial philosophical or moral issues like friendship and love. Charles Schulz is an inspiration in my career goals in the area of computer animation; in spite of coming from a poor family, he was goal-oriented and ambitious enough to achieve success in making cartoons and comics.

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Carl Schulz: life and career

As the book “Good Grief: The Story of Charles W. Schulz” states, the outstanding artist was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 26, 1922, to a poor family of German Americans. His father, Carl Schulz, was a barber, whereas his mother, Dena Schulz, was a housewife and Charles’s best friend. His family was very supportive and committed to the broader network of relatives: for instance, in the 1930s, the Schulz moved to Needles, California, in order to take care of Dena’s sick cousin. Charles was interested in comics since the early childhood and used to spend Sunday mornings with his father reading and looking through the funnies like comics magazines. In 1937, he gained his first popularity by drawing his dog Spike and sending the work to “believe it or Not” magazine (Grimsley, p.30; Bang and Lee, p. 27). Interestingly, his drawings were later rejected by his high school yearbook nonetheless. His economic class prevented Charles Schulz from getting higher education, so he attended only correspondence training in art.

In 1943, only several days of his mother’s he was forced to lead a platoon of soldiers around Europe. As Inge writes, “Schulz put his artistic ambitions on hold while serving as a machine-gun squad leader, though he regularly sketched episodes of daily army life in his sketchbook. Following his discharge in 1945, Schulz returned to St.Paul to pursue a cartooning career” (Inge, p.49). However, the artist managed only to receive a position of teacher at Art Instruction. Given his shyness, Schulz had a fear of changes in his life, but he undertook a bold effort later and send his comics to The Saturday Evening Post. Not surprisingly, his drawing was readily accepted, and the editor even asked for more works, so Schulz provided a total of seventeen cartoons to the newspaper, selling each for $40 (Grimsley, p. 59). In 1947, he began his first serious project, “Li’l Folks”, published by the St.Paul Pioneer Press. These cartoons can be viewed as a predecessor of “Peanuts”, as they included the author’s autobiographic allusions, associated with his family and dog.

Schulz’s artworks and legacy

In 1950, the series of cartoons known as “Peanuts” was launched. Most of the characters and episodes derived either from Schulz’s real life or from his dreams about the true equality in his contemporary society, divided by racism and sexism. Charles Brown was partly a self-portrait, as the character was portrayed as an extremely shy child (Grimsley, p. 75). Linus, Peppermint Patty and Shermy had real prototypes, Linus Maurer and Sherman Plepler were Schulz’s good friends, and Patricia was his cousin. Interestingly, in order to start working on “Peanuts” full-time, the artist needed to quit his job as Art teacher, but hesitated to send the letter of request to the company (Inge, p.112). As Bang and Lee describe the cartoons, “Backgrounds were generally eschewed, and when utilized Schulz’s frazzled lines imbued them with a fraught, psychological appearance. This style has been described by art critic John Carlin as forcing “its reader to focus on subtle nuances rather than broad actions or sharp transitions” (Inge, p.112).

It also needs to be noted that personal computers were not yet invented in that time, so the cartoons were produced manually, so Schulz needed to sit over his drawings long days in order to produce a consistent plotline and make characters communicate the morale of each episode. I believe the morale of “Peanuts” was quite rich, as the author obviously addresses such issues as equality in cross-gender communication and social inclusion. For instance, one of the characters, Franklin, is an African American child, one of Charlie Brown’s friends. Despite the racial segregation, the two boys frequently visit one another and play together without any prejudices and stereotypes. Thus, Schulz believes that the person’s early years represent the period of greatest sincerity and, when friendship arise out of spiritual affinity rather than social necessity. The female characters of “Peanuts” are also out of common. For instance, Peppermint Patty can boast with athletic skills and self-confidence, not typical for girls of the 50s-60s, who followed strictly the patterns of femininity. Lucy, a pretty brunette, is obviously one of the dominant characters, as she can fight like a boy and regularly threatens to “slug” someone in order to maintain discipline.


I actually share Schulz’s value of equality and would like to dedicate my future computer-animated cartoons to teenagers. I believe, my own works should communicate the importance of friendship, as there is a number of hybrid series, intended for both children and adults, which too early induce minors into the “adult” social reality. As I feel really inspired by Charles Schulz’s works, in which the balance between “the childish” and “the adult” is maintained and which seem edifying to everyone. However, they teach universal truths and moral values by showing positive examples, rather than throwing a reader into the harsh reality of racial and political clash. Thus, Carl Schulz should be followed, since he is amongst the last artists, who acknowledge the distractive purpose of art, as he successfully combines entertainment and social learning in his “Peanuts”.

Works cited

  1. Inge, T. Charles M. Schulz: Conversations. MS: University of Mississippi Press, 200.
  2. Grimsley, R. Good Grief: The Story of Charles M.Schulz. New York: Pharos Books, 1989.
  3. Bang, D. and Lee, V. 50 Years of Happiness: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz. Santa Rosa: Charles M.Schulz Musum, 2002.

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