- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 15, 2000

The death of cartoonist Charles Schulz yesterday at 77 reminds us all how meaningful a life well-spent can be. For almost 50 years, "Peanuts" has entertained children and educated adults. Some cartoons are funny. Some ironic. Few have managed the artful combination of humor and insight into the human condition. It was this pithy combination of simple humor with profound truths about the vagaries of life that made "Peanuts" something special, something one never quite outgrew. As Mort Walker, creator of the "Beetle Bailey" strip put it: "He brought pathos, failure, rejection, all that stuff and somehow made it funny." Charles Schulz himself once said, "As a youngster, I didn't realize how many Charlie Browns there were in the world. I thought I was the only one. Now I realize that Charlie Brown's goofs are familiar to everybody, adults and children alike."

Another aspect of "Peanuts" bears discussing. It is the fundamental optimism that characterized the strip. Linus, Snoopy and Charlie Brown all had their problems but never were they defeated by them. Genuine meanness, real despair emblems of the "hip" and "modern" were absent from Mr. Schulz's work. The message was always one of perseverance. Charlie Brown may have known in his heart that Lucy would always pull the football away at the last moment, but that never stopped him from trying to kick it. To the conformist, Linus' devotion to the Great Pumpkin (instead of the more traditional Halloween) may have seemed ridiculous. But he never gave in to peer pressure; he followed his own path irrespective of what "everyone else" thought or did. An imperfect soul struggling to get through a life that could be difficult, even inexplicable, at times. He was just like us.

The world will miss "Peanuts" and mourn the loss of the creative genius that gave the series life. But fans can take solace in the fact that the good men do often outlasts them. Charles Schulz may be gone but Charlie Brown and the gang will be around forever. A fitting monument and a treasure for their millions of fans.

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