The Life of Charles M. Schulz

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1936

Like all artists and writers, Charles Schulz was influenced by not only those that came before him but also some of those that were his contemporaries. During his youth, Schulz was a great fan of Elzie C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre with Popeye, Roy Crane’s Wash Tubbs and Captain Easy, Percy Crosby’s Skippy, and J.R. Williams’ Out Our Way.

“I consider that nothing I did before World War II, which would have been up until I was 20 years old, was worth anything at all. Roy Crane was my hero, and I tried to draw comic adventure strips the same way he did with Wash Tubs and Captain Easy. I remember trying to do a Foreign Legion Sunday page once, patterning it after Prince Valiant designs – a huge page.”

Charles M. Schulz (circa 1994)

 

Later on when Schulz attended junior high and high school, he said that the strips that began to influence him were Milt Caniff’s adventure strip Terry and the Pirates, Al Capp’s satirical strip L’il Abner and the work of Clare Briggs. Although Terry and the Pirates and L’il Abner both launched in 1934, Clare Briggs was a cartoonist of an earlier era. Schulz had received a copy of Clare Briggs’ book How to Draw on his eleventh birthday in 1933.

“His [Milt Caniff’s] dialogue was marvelous, it was so much more sprightly than other comics, never heavy-handed. It had a movie like quality. Milt was a real scriptwriter.”

Charles M. Schulz (1988)

 Peanuts strip originally published on November 11, 1979

After high school, Schulz was drafted into the U.S. Army and began to admire the work of Bill Mauldin who was published in the U.S. military publication, Stars and Stripes. Mauldin’s Willie and Joe characters drew high praise from many soldiers who appreciated finding the humor in their real life dilemmas fighting in a war. Schulz would pay homage to Mauldin no less than twenty times in his Peanuts strip decades later, usually around Veteran’s Day. By 1946, Schulz had discovered the comic strip Krazy Kat by George Herriman and developed a fondness for Herriman’s style. Although Krazy Kat had been syndicated and published in newspapers from 1913-1944, it was most likely not published in the Twin Cities’ papers since Schulz didn’t become familiar with it until after the war.