Arizona museum displays iconic comic artist work and life

By D.J. OCHOA

Comic strips have become a commodity for newspapers giving countless readers a few columns of enjoyable entertainment.

One iconic comic strip that many readers find relatable is Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.

The Arizona Museum for Youth hosted the “Peanuts at Bat: The Life and Art of Charles M. Schulz,” depicting his work and life.

“The art exhibit is a way to show off an iconic-comic strip so the whole family can enjoy,” Jeffory Morris, youth museum curator, said.

At a young age, Schulz knew he was born to become an artist.

While growing up in Saint Paul, Minn., his parents encouraged his enthusiasm by enrolling him at the Art Institution in Minneapolis.

In 1943, Schulz put his artistic ambitions on hold and was drafted in the U.S. Army.

After serving two years, gaining the rank of Staff Sgt. in the 20th Armored Division, he began his first comic strip Topix.  

But, Schulz artistic acclaim was completed when Peanuts debuted on Oct. 2, 1950 in seven newspapers.

For nearly 50 years he wrote, designed and drew each comic strip appearing in the Sunday newspaper.

Throughout its career the comic appeared in over 2600 newspapers, expanding to 75 countries and with 355 million loyal readers.

He retired in 1999, and tragically died on Feb. 12, 2000 of colon cancer hours before his final comic strip was printed.

Alisa and Russ Sime, who attended the exhibit, showed immense interest on the history of this beloved comic.

“I started reading Peanuts as a kid and I’m still a fan because they are enjoyable to read,” Russ said.

Russ also remembered he used to draw the Peanut comics for his grandmother.

“What is really interesting about Peanuts is how it optimizes American culture during the 1950s in art form,” Alisa said. “Over the years the comic’s drawings and humor would change so the people could relate to them.”

Peanuts gained dynamic popularity with its wholesome characters, lovable comedy and making losing humorous. Schulz once referred Peanuts as a chronicle of defeat stating “defeat is a lot funnier than victory.”

Morris explained that the art exhibit divides into two sections.

“The first section of the museum consist of the life of Schulz, and how he became an artist,” Morris said. “The second portion of the exhibit shows different number of comic strips hung on the wall, with biographies of each character who appeared in the comic.”

The exhibit displayed 50 different comic strips depicting the different art forms that Schulz used over the years.

“Schulz dedicated 2000 comic strips primarily to the sport of baseball, and as time passed Schulz changed his drawing methods,” Morris said.

According to Morris when Snoopy made his first appearance, Oct. 4, 1950, he was a playful companion and simply a dog.

As Snoopy gained popularity, Schulz started to draw the character differently by adding thought bubbles.

“The Peanuts comic strip is relatable to many individuals around the world because Charlie Brown is a lovable loser,” Morris said. “Through the art exhibit people that grew up reading the comic strips can identify with each character, and Schulz created a generational theme.”

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