Famous Veteran: Charles Schulz
"I have a new philosophy. I'm only going to dread one day at a time."
Since "Peanuts" ran for just about 50 years between 1950 and 2000, almost every generation today has been touched by the newspaper comic strip one way or another. Its author and illustrator, Carles Schulz, is responsible creating an enormously successful comic, cartoon, and general franchise. Similar to the harrowing, nearly bald protagonist Carlie Brown, Schulz said he was a simple, uncomplicated man who didn't do much to stand out.
Schulz grew up in Minnesota near Saint Paul. An only child, his father nicknamed him Sparky after the horse Sparkplug from the comic strip "Barney Google." Schulz was notably shy in school which was exacerbated by skipping two grades. Schulz's life was largely quiet, but he enjoyed the company of his dog Spike who Schulz said ate pins, thumbtacks, and even razor blades.
Although he always dreamed of being a comic book artist, Schulz didn't find success after high school. Instead, he was drafted into the Army in 1943. His mother, Dena, died around the same time and was an immensely painful experience for Schulz. Mrs. Schulz had long suffered cervical cancer, and her son was able to say goodbye on the night of her passing.
In the Army, Schulz served as a staff sergeant in the 20th Armored Division. He became a squad leader of a .50 caliber machine gun. Although he was openly proud of his service, Schulz has said that serving during World War II opened him to the horrors of war. Although the service provided a radical change of pace after his mother's death, the grisly nature of the war proved to be its own morose experience. Despite being responsible for operating a machine gun, there was only one opportunity for him to fire it. Unexpectedly, Schulz had forgotten to load the weapon and the German soldier lived to surrender.
When Schulz came back to the United Sates, his career began with the publication of "Li'l Folks" in 1947 under St. Paul Pioneer Press. Schulz eventually pitched a four panel strip to United Feature Syndicate and it was accepted. The first release of "Peanuts" was October 2, 1950, and its final publication was on Frebruary 13, 2000. When Schulz finished this final strip, he went to bed and passed away in his sleep due to a heart attack.