Welcome Back to the Big Screen, Charlie Brown!

My brother introduced me to Charlie Brown and the gang.

For whatever reason, the evening newspaper my family got did not carry the Peanuts comic strip.  Perhaps it was in the morning paper.  (Yes, there was a time when cities had a morning paper and an evening one.)  So if my brother had not discovered Peanuts and bought paperback compilations of the daily strip, I’m not certain when I would’ve found the wonderful characters created by Charles M. Schulz.

So I devoured one paperback after another and they gave me the history of Charlie Brown.  I felt his frustration when he failed and his pain and embarrassment when made the butt of a joke.  But I also admired his spirit and willingness to keep trying, no matter the setbacks that came.  Charlie Brown had some victories along the way.  He found a friend in Linus Van Pelt, the younger brother of Lucy (who was Charlie Brown’s main annoyance).  And, of course, there’s his dog, an adventurous beagle named Snoopy.  Over the years many characters joined the group: Schroeder, Sally Brown, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, Pig Pen, Franklin, Marcie, and more.

Charles Schulz began the comic strip in 1950.  It was supposed to be called Li’l Folks, but the company syndicating the comic wanted the name “Peanuts” to avoid confusion with some other comic strips.  Schulz hated the title Peanuts, but was pretty much stuck with it.  To this day, most of us still think of the comic as Peanuts, but we’re just as likely to call it Charlie Brown.

The strip was soon so popular that television came calling.  In 1965, A Charlie Brown Christmas debuted on TV and has been broadcast every holiday season since.  Soon Halloween was celebrated by the gang in another TV special, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.  More specials were produced over the years, each overseen by Schulz, each finding a place in our hearts.  We grew up watching them and, eventually, we watched them with our own kids.
Peanuts became a part of American culture.  The Apollo 10 lunar module was called Snoopy while the command module was called Charlie Brown.  Amusement parks utilized the characters.  There were stage musicals – You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy!!! The Musical.  There was a hit song inspired by Snoopy’s fanciful World War I air battles with the Red Baron.

And there were movies.  A Boy Named Charlie BrownSnoopy, Come HomeRace for Your Life, Charlie BrownBon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!).

But in 2000, an era came to an end.  Charles Schulz passed away.  He asked that the daily comic strip not be continued by anyone else.  However, we are fortunate that the classic strips are still in syndication to be enjoyed by new generations.

And, finally, after many years, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang are returning to the big screen.  An all-new feature film The Peanuts Movie, written and produced by Schulz’s son Craig and grandson Bryan, will be released on November 6th.  And I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to get reacquainted with some of the TV specials and movies and the daily comic strips.  Just click on the highlighted names above to see the titles we have.  If you’d like to know more about the man who gave us these delightful characters, click on Charles Schulz’s name for a list of books by and about him.  And enjoy spending time with a few old friends.