Friends, a little earlier this afternoon on Facebook I was given the heads up on something pretty important, that it was 70 years ago today that the first daily strip for Charles Schulz’s Peanuts was published. It has been 70 wonderful years since the World was first able to meet Charlie Brown – in what amounted to a walk-on role in the comic strip itself. The genesis of the Peanuts strip came from Schulz’s earlier work on his local newspaper from 1947 until 1950 – a series entitled Li’l Folks. The artist had intended to continue to use that name when he sold the strip idea to United Features Syndicate. However a previous comic strip with the name Little Folks had a legal claim, so UFS decided it best to change the title of Schulz’s new comic. In all honesty Peanuts is something that the artist never thought was a good name for his comic strip – as you can see for yourself from this 1987 interview with Frank Pauer that I found on Wikipedia – from the Dayton Daily News and Journal Herald Magazine:
“Peanuts was originally sold under the title of Li’l Folks, but that had been used before, so they said we have to think of another title. I couldn’t think of one and somebody at United Features came up with the miserable title Peanuts, which I hate and have always hated. It has no dignity and it’s not descriptive. […] What could I do? Here I was, an unknown kid from St. Paul. I couldn’t think of anything else. I said, why don’t we call it Charlie Brown and the president said “Well, we can’t copyright a name like that.” I didn’t ask them about Nancy or Steve Canyon. I was in no position to argue.”
I’m certainly not going to argue with the late and great Charles Schulz – although there is no doubt that his Peanuts comic strip became one of the most successful daily strips of all time. To say nothing of the merchandise that the characters of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang have generated these past 70 years. Which include the likes of comic strip collections, animated specials and series, toys, video games, movies, and of course records.
Which is how I thought we should celebrate the 70th anniversary of Peanuts today – by listening to the 1980 Read-Along adaptation of You’re the Greatest, Charlie Brown. And while I might obviously be wrong, I do believe this particular Buena Vista record also features the dialogue and music from the 1979 animated television special!