I always think about Peanuts and Charles M. Schulz at this time of year. A Charlie Brown Christmas is so ingrained into the hearts and minds of anyone who grew up in the last half-century—especially those of us who saw it when it first debuted in 1965 on CBS—not to mention Schulz’s ongoing Christmas strips in Peanuts. Why, here’s one now!
Peanuts Christmas strip from Sunday, Dec. 22, 1991. © Peanuts Worldwide
I prefer Schulz’s early work on Peanuts, when the characters were less formed and he was still kind of feeling his way through discovering the personalities of everyone. The above strip is from the last 10 years or so of his amazing 50+ year run. It always seemed sadly fitting that he died the day before his last Sunday strip announcing his retirement was published, like he lived for cartooning and telling the stories of his characters. I think Peanuts was overly commercialized from the 1960s on, but at its basic level—the comic strip that launched its success—it remained pristine and pure. That figure in the photo above, peeking out from behind a boxed set of Fantagraphics’ epic reprinting of the entire run of Peanuts, was a knock-off ceramic Lucy I found at a local flea market. Unfortunately, I guess the true mark of success in pop culture is when everyone starts stealing your stuff. I still have that figure, but I’m always fearful it will become the victim of a dead-of-night California earthquake.
Merry Christmas to all the Charlie Browns in the world … and the Lucys, too.