He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, to Dena and Carl Schulz. His nickname was Sparky, after the horse Sparkplug in the Barney Google comic strip.
He attended St. Paul's Richard Gordon Elementary School, where he skipped two grades. As a result, he was the youngest in his class when he attended St. Paul Central High years later, which may have been the reason why he was so shy and isolated as a young teenager. After his mother died in February 1943, he was drafted into the army and sent to Camp Campbell, in Kentucky. He was then shipped to Germany two years later to fight in World War II. After leaving the army in 1945, he took a job as an art teacher at Art Instruction Inc, which he attended before he was drafted. There he met Yesterdays creator Frank Wing. They became close friends, with Wing taking a mentor role in Schulz' life.
After having several of his comics published in a variety of publications, including the Saturday Evening Post, his first regular comic strip, Li'l Folks was published in 1947 by St. Paul Pioneer Press (it was in this strip that the characters Charlie Brown first appeared, as well as a dog that looks close to Snoopy). In 1950 he approached the United Features Syndicate with his best stips from Li'l Folks, and in October 2, 1950, Peanuts was first published. This strip became one of the most popular compic strips of all time.
He put a lot of his own life into Peanuts' main character, Charlie Brown. For example:
- Schulz' father was a barber and his mother a housewife.
- he also had a dog when he was a boy (but unlike Snoopy, Schulz' dog, Spike, was a pointer.
- he was a shy and withdrawn
- Schulz' Red Haired Girl was Donna Johnston, an accountant at Art Instruction Inc. who he had a relationship with. He asked her to marry him, but she refused. However, they remained friends for the rest of his life.
Schulz' father died in 1966 while visiting him, the same year his studio in Sebastopol burnt down.
Peanuts' ran for fifty years without interruption and had appeared in over 2,600 newspaper in seventy-five countries. In November 1999 he had a stroke, and later it was discovered that he had colon cancer had metastasized to his stomach. Because of the chemotherapy and the fact he couldn't read or see clearly, he announced his retirement on December 14, 1999, at the age of 77. This was difficult for Schulz, and he has been quoted to have said "I never dreamed that this would happen to me. I always had the feeling that I would stay with the strip until I was in my early 80s, or something like that. But all of sudden it's gone. It's been taken away from me. I did not take it away. This was taken away from me."
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