“Everybody loved Peanuts,” author Mo Willems declared in his introduction for The Complete Peanuts 1969-70, the incredible series now being released by Fantagraphics.

“And why not?” the Knuffle Bunny and Pigeon author and illustrator continued, “Charles Schulz managed to take that one universal emotion, grief, and make it good. Good Grief.”

Charles Schulz first introduced poor, old Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang to readers On October 2nd, 1950. Over the course of more than 60 years, Peanuts became the most beloved and influential comic strip of all time, inspiring readers and artists alike. In this Bibliostar.TV interview, author Kate DiCamillo, author and cartoonist Stephan Pastis, and cartoonist and Washington Post Comic Riffs blogger Michael Cavna each share their own stories about Schulz’s enduring legacy and the effect Peanuts has had on their respective careers.

Kate DiCamillo‘s latest book, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Sept. 24, 2013), interweaves comics from illustrator K.G. Campbell with her story, creating a wonderful new illustrated adventure. DiCamillo credits Schulz for never sugarcoating life’s challenges. “They’re sad but they’re also joyous,” DiCamillo explained. “I was so aware of wanting to capture that feeling of ‘this is the way things are and it breaks your heart, but it’s also kind of funny’ that I got so much from Peanuts when I was a kid. I always felt like Charles Schulz was telling me the truth.”

When Schulz came up, comics were often considered unsophisticated or juvenile, a playful release. Over the past 15 years though, with the rise and explosive growth of graphic novels and the comic book culture of events like Comic-Con, the perception of comics has transformed, further cementing Schulz’s rightful position as a literary icon.

Michael Cavna, Washington Post cartoonist and editor of the Post’s Comic Riffs blog is another fan. “About two years before he died I was sharing the same editor as Charles Schulz and I said to him, I know a few people that think you should have a Pulitzer–what you do that world, what you are able to say–and he said, it’ll never happen because people don’t take comics that seriously. It was interesting. I wanted to say to him, ‘we will, we will, we’ll catch up.'”

Stephan Pastis, the creator of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip and the new Timmy Failure series for young readers that began with Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made and follows up in February 2014 with Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done, credits his success to Schulz’s influence. Pastis helped write the script of the 2011 Peanuts TV special and accompanying book, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, and worked for a time at the Charles Schulz studio Santa Rosa, California. “He influenced everything that I do. He basically invented the modern comic strip, and he still influences me when I draw my kids books.”

 

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