- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 1999

The skies have darkened on the fearless Red Baron.
Snoopy will ascend his doghouse no more.
Good grief, America, Charles Schulz is retiring, taking with him sassy Lucy and that goofy Charlie Brown simple pen and ink characters who rose from the funny papers to capture the spirit of childhood for a nation that grinned at their antics for nearly 50 years.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams, who was saddened by the news that his colleague was ending his popular “Peanuts” strip.
“If you look at my cartoon, there is a guy who is kind of a loser. He’s got a dog who is a little bit smarter than he is. It’s not a coincidence,” Mr. Adams said of his comic strip. “[Schulz] was the biggest influence of my professional career.”
Mr. Schulz, 77, was diagnosed with cancer after undergoing surgery Nov. 16 for a blocked abdominal aorta. During the operation, doctors found a malignancy in his colon. He plans to retire Jan. 4, the day after the final daily strip runs.
“Although I feel better following my recent surgery, I want to focus on my health and my family without the worry of a daily deadline,” Mr. Schulz said in a statement.
His final Sunday strip will appear Feb. 13, according to syndicate United Media, which plans to distribute old editions of “Peanuts,” beginning with strips from 1974, for an indefinite period. The upcoming strips will come from a backlog Mr. Schulz built before he became ill.
Leaving Linus, Pig Pen, and Peppermint Patty behind does not come easy, Mr. Schulz’s wife added.
“I think we have to say that he’s sad about it,” Jean Schulz said.
Free-lance cartoonist Bob Staake of St. Louis, Mo., said Mr. Schulz, known as “Sparky” to his colleagues in the National Cartoonists Society, was generous with his time, unpretentious and kindhearted.
“He always spoke with such clarity about those simple, fleeting moments that we all have that bind us to both our adulthood and our childhood, those simple and honest sparks about what it means to be a human being,” Mr. Staake said.
His unique skill and style will help Mr. Schulz go down in history “as perhaps the most brilliant cartoonist of all time,” Mr. Staake said.
Mr. Schulz was born in St. Paul, Minn., on Nov. 26, 1922, and studied art after he saw a “Do you like to draw?” ad. After serving in the Army during World War II, he did lettering for a church comic book, taught art and sold cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post.
His first feature, “Li’l Folks,” was developed for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1947. In 1950, it was sold to a syndicate and renamed though he admitted later he didn’t like the title “Peanuts.”
The popularity of the strip soared in October 1965 when Snoopy turned his doghouse into a Sopwith Camel airplane for the first of many engagements with the Baron. The following year, a group called the Royal Guardsmen had a No. 2 single, “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.”
Mr. Schulz’s character Charlie Brown, named after a friend at art school, was to some extent the cartoonist’s alter ego. Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s loyal and wildly imaginative beagle, was inspired by a dog Mr. Schulz had as a child that he recalled as “the smartest and most uncontrollable dog that I have ever seen.”
Although he remained a private person, “Peanuts” brought Mr. Schulz international fame. He won the Reuben Award, comic art’s highest honor, in 1955 and 1964. In 1978, he was named International Cartoonist of the Year, an award voted by 700 comic artists around the world.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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