Peanuts first appeared in a comic strip known as Lil’ Folks, as part of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the local newspaper for the strip’s creator Charles M. Schulz, where it ran from 1947 to 1950.
In 1950, when the St. Paul Pioneer Press went bust, Schulz sold Lil’ Folks to The Saturday Evening Post, who then syndicated them to nine newspapers including The Washington Post and The Chicago Tribune, debuting in them on October 2nd
Due to other comic strips with a similar name – Lil’ Abner, and another called Little Folks – Schultz’s strip was retitled to Peanuts, named after the peanut gallery of a popular TV show at the time.
Schultz has always hated the ‘Peanuts’ title: “It’s totally ridiculous, has no meaning, is simply confusing, and has no dignity—and I think my humour has dignity.” This resulted in Schultz regularly retitling collections of his work as either Charlie Brown or Snoopy.
The first strip introduced the world to Charlie, Shermy and Patty. Three days later, ‘Peanuts’ introduced Snoopy. The rest of the supporting characters appeared much later.
There have already been four ‘Peanuts’ movies prior to this month’s 2015 version: A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969), Snoopy Come Home (1972), Race For Your Life Charlie Brown (1977), Bon Voyage Charlie Brown And Don’t Come Back (1980).
On February 13th 2000, the day after Charles M. Schulz’s death, the last ever original ‘Peanuts’ strip was printed. It was published with a note from Schulz, which read as follows: Dear Friends, I have been fortunate to draw Charlie Brown and his friends for almost fifty years. It has been the fulfilment of my childhood ambition. Unfortunately, I am no longer able to maintain the schedule demanded by a daily comic strip. My family does not wish ‘Peanuts’ to be continued by anyone else, therefore I am announcing my retirement. I have been grateful over the years for the loyalty of our editors and the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans of the comic strip. Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy… how can I ever forget them… Charles M. Schulz
Running for a little under fifty years, with 17,897 original strips published in all, ‘Peanuts’ has been described as “arguably the longest story ever told by a single human being”.
At the peak of it’s popularity, ‘Peanuts’ ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of over 350 million people in 75 countries, and has been translated in 21 languages. Between it’s syndication and the related merchandise, the comic turned Schulz into a certified billionaire.
The script for the new movie was co-written by Craig and Bryan Schulz, Charles’ son and grandson respectively, and director Steve Marino was hand-picked by the family after they enjoyed his adaptation of ‘Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who’.
Snoopy and Charlie Brown – The Peanuts Movie is at cinemas from December 21st