In conclusion to the "Ode to a Comic Strip" series, it seems fitting to shine the spotlight on what is perhaps America's most beloved comic strip, Peanuts.
First published in October of 1950, Charles Schultz's Peanut introduced the world the ever unluckly, constantly glum, but always optimistic Charlie Brown and his friends Linus, Lucy, Snoopy and a host of others. Since then it has become arguably the most influential and most beloved comic strip of all time.
The amazing thing about Peanuts is that not only is the strip funny and relatable (because who hasn't had a "Charlie Brown Day?") but it's also touching and full of social commentary. Unlike a lot of comic strips during the early days of its existence, Peanuts contained a lot of deep ideas with its humor, making it unique. A lot of that philosophy and social commentary is what made Peanuts likable because it took a hard, deep look at the world through the eyes of children when most adults couldn't or wouldn't concieve of such things themselves.
Unlike other strips such as Blondie, which continue to this day with writers and artists other than their creator, there was never a doubt in anyone's mind that Peanuts was Schultz's and his alone. Late in 1999, Schultz was forced to retire from Peanuts for health reasons and it was decided that no one would succeed him. The final original daily strip was published January 3, 2000. Original Sunday strips continued until the last one was published on Sunday February 13, 2000, the day after Schultz's death.
Peanuts has, in its lifetime, given rise to some of the most cherished television specials of all time including A Charlie Brown Christmas; It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. For families across the country, watching these holiday specials is a tradition that brings them all together. That is a wonderful part of the legacy of Peanuts, its ability to bring families together.
Peanuts still runs daily in syndication in newspapers all over the place (most notably, for Vermonters, anyway, in the Burlington Free Press) and if you haven't read a strip in a while, go pick one up and have yourself a smile.