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Looking back on 60 years of Peanuts, and what's still to come

A humble beginning

Peanuts comics first appeared in October 1950 in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The last original comic appeared Feb. 13, 2000, one day after Schulz's death; reruns still appear in 2,200 newspapers in 75 countries. Jeannie Schulz, the cartoonist's widow, said she often hears from people at the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif., about how well the characters reflect their own feelings. "Reading Peanuts got people through really tough times in their childhoods," she said. "I think it's mirroring their feelings that life is tough, knowing somebody else is in the same boat as they — and yet having hope."

A new film

TV specials such as A Charlie Brown Christmas (shown here) and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are must-see holiday fare. ABC just signed on for five more years of airing the specials, but here's the really good news: A new animated film is in the works. Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, created by a team involving Charles Schulz's son, Craig, and Pearls Before Swine cartoonist Stephan Pastis, will air in the spring.

More new projects

"Countdown to the Great Pumpkin," a new social media game, began on Facebook and Twitter last month (greatpumpkincountdown.com). A book will be out later this month called The Peanuts Collection, which will trace the comic strip's history and how it evolved over time. On Oct. 14, the Peanuts cast also will launch a new "Great Pumpkin Island" on Poptropica, a popular game website for millions of tweens who may be less familiar with Charlie Brown and his friends.

Same ol' Peanuts

One thing that won't change, the family promises, is the tone of all future Peanuts products. Schulz, a history buff who considered himself an Eisenhower Republican, mostly stayed away from politics in his cartoons. But if he visited Washington today, the cartoonist likely would be taken aback by the bitter political tone. "I think he would be appalled," said Lee Mendelson, who produced the Peanuts films with Schulz for more than 40 years, "and I think he would have poked fun at it in the comic strip."

Compiled by Times staff from the Associated Press, IMDB.com and Peanuts.com.

G  ood grief, Charlie Brown. The world has certainly changed since Peanuts was born. In the 60 years since, the U.S. sent a man to the moon, survived the Cold War and now has one of the worst economic funks in decades. Now, as Charles Schulz's family is working to keep Snoopy, Lucy and the rest alive for generations to come, we look to the past and the future of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest.

Looking back on 60 years of Peanuts, and what's still to come 10/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:50pm]
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