“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” turns 50 this year, and its creator, Charles Schulz, would have celebrated 94 years on November 26. Schulz lived and worked in St. Paul for the first half of his life, even drawing the first renditions of Charlie Brown in the Twin Cities. Since then, Schulz’s memorable characters have become icons throughout the Cities, becoming part of Minnesota’s identity.
Schulz was born in Minneapolis in 1922, and lived with his family in St. Paul, attending Richard Gordon Elementary and St. Paul Central High School, where a plaque dedicated to Schulz hangs in their hall of fame. Schulz began drawing comics at an early age, and talked often about one of his cartoons being rejected by the high school’s yearbook.
While in high school, Schulz began taking cartooning classes from what is now the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis, and began drawing cartoons more seriously.
Schulz was drafted into World War II in 1943 and served until 1945, when he returned to St. Paul, living above his father’s barbershop, which is now O’Gara’s bar on Snelling Avenue, where famous Peanuts characters are still celebrated in the bar’s artwork.
Schulz’s drawing style was shaped by wartime newspapers who were looking for shorter comics with simpler strokes and sharper humor geared toward an increasingly educated audience.
The Pioneer Press was one of the first newspapers to print Schulz’s comic entitled Li’l Folks, a comic about children witty beyond their years. His first versions of the infamous Charlie Brown appeared here.
The first Peanuts strip appeared in seven newspapers around the country in 1950, drawing greater attention to the 27-year-old cartoonist.
Schulz remained in Minneapolis until 1958, raising three kids with his wife at their home on Minnehaha Parkway.
Schulz then moved to Santa Rosa, California where he lived and worked until his death in 2000. At the time of his death, the Peanuts comic was featured in 2,600 newspapers worldwide, with his books and collections printed in 25 different languages. Even today, Peanuts remains one of the world’s most popular and beloved comics.
Can’t get enough of the Peanuts characters? The snoopygrams Instagram account is a fan favorite.