In the early 1950’s, Charles M. Schulz created the unlikely hero of small-town America. The young boy’s name was Charlie Brown and he was featured in the Peanuts comic strip that Schulz drew for newspapers across the country for half a century. The Peanuts comic strip was perhaps the most successful of its kind and launched Charlie Brown into the national spotlight as lovable loser growing up in an American neighborhood with his group of energetic and often philosophical friends. The Peanuts comic strip ran from 1950 until 2000, ceasing only after Schulz’s death.
As the Peanuts comic strip gained in popularity, Schulz began infusing his cartoons with social commentary. No topic seemed off-limits, as Charlie Brown and his friends discussed everything from politics to religion, to dress codes and the state of education. In the mid-1960’s, the Peanuts comic strip took on new life as an animated television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was in this cartoon that Charlie Brown’s friend Linus explains the true meaning of Christmas by quoting the Bible.
The television cartoon version of the Peanuts comic strip made famous the trumpet-voice of the adult characters. Instead of using actual words, adults in the show – who were rarely, if ever, shown onscreen – spoke in the sound of a muffled trumpet. While the viewers could not understand the words, the child characters in the show seemingly had no difficulty understanding the adults.
Aside from Charlie Brown, the most famous Peanuts comic strip character is Snoopy. Charlie Brown’s pet beagle, Snoopy has a personality all his own and is portrayed as both more brazen and more successful socially than his owner. Snoopy is the most fearless of the Peanuts comic strip characters and provides much of the slapstick comedy. He lives in a doghouse in Charlie Brown’s back yard, but he is most often seen sleeping on the roof of the doghouse rather than inside it.
Other characters of the Peanuts comic strip include Linus Van Pelt, a young and philosophical boy rarely seen without the comfort and company of his favorite blanket; Lucy Van Pelt, Charlie Brown’s foil who always seems to get the upper hand; Sally Brown, Charlie’s younger and more confident sister who has a crush on Linus. There are many other characters who play major roles in the life of the lovable loser Charlie Brown, adding to the socially conscious narrative of the Peanuts comic strip.