Charles Schulz was born today in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1922. An only child (and like Charlie Brown the son of a barber), Schulz was a timid youth who grew up to be a withdrawn and neurotic adult. He fought at the tail-end of WWII, participating in the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. After the end of the war, Schulz worked as an instructor at Art Instructor, Inc. where he found the inspiration for the Little Red-Haired Girl, a secretary whom married someone else before he could propose to her, and a coworker with the name “Charlie Brown.”
Peanuts was the first comic strip that I truly loved, and one that reflects the isolation and quixotic aspirations of being young. Few artists have had the influence that Schulz has had on mainstream culture, especially while cultivating such a deep reverence from artists and creators whose work is far outside that commercial mainstream. To me, the first strip is still my favorite– Schulz’s artistic style is still developing (Charlie Brown doesn’t even have a zig-zag on his shirt), but the core of its wry punchline remains true to the tone and lifetime of the comic strip and its creator.