Peanuts as Desirable as Ever

Peanuts as Desirable as Ever

LiveAuctionTalk.com: by Rosemary McKittrick

Photo courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries.

Charles M. (Sparky) Schulz is probably the most beloved cartoonist of all time. What made his comic strip Peanuts so great was his ability to see the absurdity in ordinary life. He saw the humor in the tragedy we all face as humans. 

And he brought loneliness, frustration, awkwardness and the search for love to the comic pages. He made it okay for us to be flawed humans.      

If you read the strip for just a few months, you will know me because everything that I am goes into the strip.
— Charles Schulz

“There will always be a market for innocence in this country,” he said.

Charlie Brown became the classic loser.  Lucy was the fusspot.  Linus the philosopher.  Schroeder the artist, Pigpen the slob, and Snoopy the subversive comedian and dreamer.

Charles took inspiration from everything around him and said Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the other characters were as real to him as his own children. He called them his second family and said he was responsible for them.    

It was the characters not so much the situations we came to love. 

Adults rarely appeared in Peanuts. The kids were left to their own devices to figure out their world. Readers of all ages could see themselves in the characters.  

“If you read the strip for just a few months, you will know me because everything that I am goes into the strip,” Schulz said. 

Growing up with his dad Schulz read the comic pages in four different Sunday newspapers.  Comics were the televisions of their day. 

Schulz drew nearly 18,000 strips during his 50 years of drawing.  At one point Peanuts was published daily in 2,600 papers in 75 countries, in 21 languages. He earned an estimated $30 million to $40 million annually.

During the life of the comic strip, Schulz took only one vacation, a five-week break in late-1997 to celebrate his 75th birthday.

Besides the content of the comic strip what made Peanuts standout out in the newspaper? 

It was a minimal number of pen lines. Only what is necessary was Schulz’s philosophy. It worked.  He didn’t need to draw every little detail because he understood the reader’s imagination would fill in the spaces and Peanuts ended up looking great on the page between two busier comic strips. 

It’s the less is more philosophy--easy to miss unless you take a second look.

“The quality of the drawing itself is so important,” he said. “This is what I think real cartoonists admire.  Not so much what the characters have said and things like that, but good cartoonists admire other cartoonists simply for the quality of the pen lines and the drawing itself.” 

Even though the Peanuts’ characters are motionless nothing in the background is static.

On the morning of Feb. 13, 2000, the Sunday paper carried Schulz’s last cartoon with that came the news he died in his sleep of complications from colon cancer.  

On Dec. 6, 1018, Swann Auction Galleries featured a selection of original Peanuts comic strips for sale.  Here are some current values. 

Peanuts-United Feature Syndicate

The Years are Going by Fast; original four-panel cartoon; pen and ink; April 10, 1979; signed; 7 inches by 24 inches;  $12,500.

Everyone Needs to Have Hope; original four-panel cartoon; pen and ink; May 17, 1971; signed; May 17, 1971; 6 ½ inches by 30 inches;  $12,500.

Eventually That Could Wear Out My Nose; original four-panel pen and ink; June 26, 1971; signed; 6 ½ inches by 30 inches;  $12,500.

Woodstock is Searching for his Identity; original four-panel pen and ink; Jan 26, 1972; signed; 6 ½ inches by 30 inches;  $12,500.

Neighborhood Dog of the Year; original four-panel pen and ink; March 6, 1973; signed; 7 inches by 29 inches;  $12,500.   

Rosemary McKittrick is a storyteller.  For 26 years she has brought the world of collecting to life in her column.  Her LiveAuctionTalk.com website is a mother lode of information about art, antiques and collectibles.  Rosemary received her education in the trenches working as a professional appraiser.

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