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Peanuts

Alternate meaning: See peanut

Peanuts is the name of a syndicated comic strip written and drawn by American cartoonist Charles Schulz from 1950 to 2000.


Peanuts book cover

Schulz originally called the strip Good Ol' Charlie Brown, after the strip's feature character. The syndicate insisted on the name Peanuts, a name Schulz disliked. The title panel for the Sunday strips usually read Peanuts, featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown, as a result.

Peanuts features a group of children, ranging from infants to eight-years olds, whose perspectives on the world around them are at once childlike and adult. Initially, the strip revolved around Charlie Brown, a boy who generally fails at anything he attempts but nevertheless continues trying. He can never win a ballgame, but continues playing baseball. He can never fly a kite successfully, but continues trying to fly his kite. Charlie Brown's playmates in the early years included Lucy Van Pelt and her little brother Linus, Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy, and piano-playing Schroeder.

The Peanuts characters generally do not age, except in the case of infant characters who catch up to the rest of the cast, then stop. Linus, for example, is born in the first couple of years of the strip's run. He ages from infancy to Charlie Brown's age over the course of the first fifteen years of the strip's run, during which we see him learn to walk and talk with the help of Lucy and Charlie Brown. Linus then stops aging, and becomes Charlie Brown's classmate in third grade.

In the 1960s, the strip shifts in two ways. For one, Snoopy becomes a more prominent character. Many of the strips revolve around Snoopy's active fantasy life, in which he might be a World War I fighter pilot or an ice hockey star, to the amusement and consternation of the children who wonder what he is doing.
Also, Schulz introduced greater diversity in his cast of characters by replacing some of the largely anonymous neighborhood children (Shermy, Violet) with a character named Patricia Reichardt — known universally as Peppermint Patty. Patty is an assertive, athletic, but rather obtuse girl who shakes up Charlie Brown's world by calling him "Chuck", flirting with him, and giving him compliments he's not so sure he deserves. Peppermint Patty (not to be confused with an earlier character named Patty) also brought a new group of friends, including the strip's first black character, Franklin, and Peppermint Patty's bookish sidekick Marcie Johnson, who calls Patty "Sir" and Charlie Brown "Charles" (all other characters call him "Charlie Brown" at all times).

Peanuts is remarkable for its deft social commentary, especially compared with other strips appearing in the 1950s and early 1960s. Schulz did not explicitly address racial[?] and gender equality[?] issues so much as he assumed them to be self-evident in the first place. Peppermint Patty's athletic skill and self-confidence is simply taken for granted, for example. However, Schulz could throw some barbs when he chose. One memorable sequence featured a little boy named "5", whose sisters were named "3" and "4", whose father had changed the family surname to their zip code number as a protest. Another sequence lampooned Little Leagues[?] and "organized" play, when all the neighborhood kids join "snowman-building" leagues and criticize Charlie Brown when he insists on building his own snowmen without leagues or coaches. The final original Peanuts comic strip was finished on January 3, 2000 and published in newspapers a day after Schulz died on February 13.

Table of contents

Television and films Aside from numerous books of or about the comic strips, the first excursion into other media for the strip was A Charlie Brown Christmas, a classic 30-minute television special, first broadcast in 1965 on CBS, that featured the music of Vince Guaraldi. (It is worth noting that the show is not titled A Peanuts Christmas.) The success of A Charlie Brown Christmas was the impetus for CBS to air a long-running, celebrated series of prime-time Peanuts TV specials[?] over the years, including It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown, and many others.

During the early 1990s, Peanuts was adapted to a weekly Saturday morning animated series, entitled The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. This series failed to gain the acclaim and the audiences of the prime-time specials, and it was cancelled after two seasons.

Schulz and team later collaborated on other television specials and full-length feature films, the first of which was A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1968). (Again, note the absence of the word "Peanuts" in the title.) Most of these made use of material from Schulz's strips, which were then adapted. You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown was originally an extremely successful off-Broadway musical that ran for four years (1967-1971) in New York City and on tour, with Gary Burghoff as the original Charlie Brown. An updated revival opened in New York City in 1999.

Feature Films

Animated TV Specials

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