why Charles Schulz created ‘Peanuts’

Apple TV+ is now the house of all-things-“Peanuts” — so it’s the logical place residence for a brand new documentary about Charles Schulz, who created the enduring comic-strip franchise.

“Who Are You, Charlie Brown?” premieres Friday (June 25) on the streamer and clocks in at below an hour, brief by as we speak’s Ken Burns-style requirements however lengthy sufficient to cowl all of the bases in recounting each Schulz’s life and the “Peanuts” phenomenon — which conquered that print, TV, films and, now, the digital enviornment.

Narrated by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, “Who Are You, Charlie Brown?” opens with new animated footage of Charlie Brown and his friends at school, tasked by their acquainted tromboney-sounding instructor to write down an essay on the place they got here from. That opens the door for author/director Michael Bonfiglio to recount Schulz’s (and, by extension, Charlie Brown’s) story, beginning with Schulz’s childhood as a painfully shy boy in Minnesota nicknamed “Sparky” — after a comic-strip character referred to as “Sparkplug.” It was within the playing cards.

Sparky, who desires of beginning his personal caricature, isn’t the happiest child or the perfect pupil (“I failed everything it was possible to fail,” he says). He’s finally drafted into the Army in 1942, despatched abroad (he’d by no means spent an evening away) and returns residence decided to meet his lifelong ambition. After some suits and begins, “Peanuts” launches in 1950 and the remainder is historical past.

“Peanuts” characters (from left) Schroeder, Franklin, Linus and Charlie Brown.
“Peanuts” characters (from left) Schroeder, Franklin, Linus and Charlie Brown.
Courtesy Everett Collection

Bonfiglio does a pleasant job recounting that historical past by means of using archival interviews with Schulz, and new interviews together with his spouse, Jean — that are interspersed with excerpts of the numerous “Peanuts” TV specials that started airing within the mid-’60s, in coloration, because it continued to evolve with the altering occasions.

(Schulz launched his first black “Peanuts” character, Franklin, in 1968, after it was recommended by a girl named Harriet Glickman. “I held off on Franklin for a long time because I simply felt I wasn’t capable of doing him properly and I didn’t want to appear patronizing,” he says.)

Also included are interviews with celebrities who share their reminiscences of “Peanuts” together with Al Roker, Paul Feig, Drew Barrymore, Kevin Smith and Billie Jean King — an excellent Schulz pal who partially impressed his creation of spunky, athletic Peppermint Patty within the late ’60s.

Charles Schulz
Charles Schulz at his drafting board in 1956 together with his best creation: Charlie Brown.
Alamy Stock Photo

We additionally study many fascinating factoids about Schulz’s life and the way he integrated components of this into “Peanuts”: Snoopy was primarily based on a canine he had as an adolescent (there’s a photograph displaying Schulz, the canine and his mother and father); and Snoopy’s “Joe Cool” and “Flying Ace” personas (battling the Red Baron, and many others.) have been impressed by Schulz’s 5 youngsters (his son, Craig, is an govt producer). Sally’s behavior of calling Linus her “Sweet Babboo” got here from a pet title Jean Schulz used for her husband — and there actually was a “Little Red-Haired Girl” — her title was Donna and he or she was Schulz’s large boyhood crush (he was distraught when she married another person).

Schulz, who by no means took a trip or missed a deadline, continued to do all of the work on “Peanuts” himself, even after having coronary heart surgical procedure in 1981, when his post-surgical shaky writing and drawing was merely integrated into the caricature with out lacking a beat. He retired in 2000 and died that February on the age of 77, forsaking a pop-culture legacy that continues to resonate all over the world 70 years after its beginning.

The “Peanuts” gang is now on Apple TV+.

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