The Origins of Charlie Brown

Created, written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts" made its debut on October 2nd, 1950, and starred the lovable Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy. Eventually, the series went on to generate over 18 thousand strips that appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers across 75 countries, in 21 languages while reaching 355 million readers. Immensely popular, this simple 4-panel comic starred a group of kids who would regularly comment upon everyday issues, all while being unable to understand what adults were saying. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the origins of Charlie Brown.
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The Origins of Charlie Brown

He is the star of the most influential and popular comic of all time. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be taking a look at the origins of Charlie Brown.

The American syndicated comic strip “Peanuts” was originally written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz. It made its debut on October 2nd, 1950, and starred the lovable Charlie Brown. The series went on to generate over 18 thousand strips that appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers across 75 countries, in 21 languages and reached 355 million readers.

This wildly successful comic standardized the use of four-panel gags and proved to be an unprecedented American success story. Ironically, its protagonist was anything but successful: Charlie Brown was the son of a barber, and was characterized by his nervous and unconfident behavior. He was unable to fly a kite, win at baseball, or even kick a football. Charlie Brown was depicted as an endearing loser with bad luck, but this yellow-shirted child also represented internal fortitude, as he was modeled on the personality of his creator.

Though the “Peanuts” comic strip made its debut in the 1950s, Charlie Brown and his dog pal Snoopy first appeared in 1947. Schulz placed versions of these characters within an earlier comic strip called “Li’l Folks.” This was a weekly panel made available in the author’s hometown paper.

Schulz wanted to launch his creation across the nation, but needed to make some drastic changes before doing so. He was forced to change the name of the strip because it resembled two other comics at the time, and decided on a set cast rather than a variety of nameless characters.

With inspiration from the peanut gallery on the “Howdy Doody Show,” the title “Peanuts” was finally chosen. Interestingly, Schulz never liked this choice of name. Because of this, the paperback comic collections always contained either “Charlie Brown” or “Snoopy” in the title, in an effort to avoid confusing fans of the series who knew it for its stars.

The rest of the cast slowly began appearing in the “Peanuts’” early years: fans eventually got to know and love supporting characters like Lucy, Linus, “Peppermint” Patty, Woodstock, Franklin, Marcie and Sally.

This group of kids eventually engaged generations of readers through their interactions with one another, and their inability to understand what adults were saying.

Schulz took on all facets of the comic on his own, and this helped him produce a strip with a cohesive and simple style. The creator managed to write the scripts, draw the art and even ink the lettering. He also infused “Peanuts” with subtle and keen social commentary that explored issues like racial and gender equality.

Of course, the “Peanuts” strip was eventually challenged by other comics in the 1980s and ‘90s. Newcomers like “Garfield” as well as “Calvin and Hobbes” began winning more readers, but despite this “Peanuts” remained extremely popular. Schulz continued to produce it until health reasons forced him to retire.

The last daily original comic was published on January 3rd, 2000. Schulz passed away just over a month later on February 12th, and his dying wish was that no one else would continue his beloved series. The “Peanuts” comics has survived under the banner of “Classic Peanuts” and through color reprints.

In the many years since its debut, Charlie Brown and friends made the transition to commercials and Broadway plays, as well as numerous television and film specials. In fact, the gang has appeared in over 50 such events through the years.

In 2007, Warner Bros. acquired the television and film rights to the franchise. This move suggested that Charlie Brown may be introduced to a new generation in the near future.
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