My nearly-3 year old just discovered Snoopy. He’s known about the Peanuts for a while, but recently he really connected with the stories. We have several of the Peanuts’ holiday specials on DVD, and he began watching them over and over (and over). Within a couple days he knew the character’s names, their relationships, and the stories. He found my trove of Schulz books, and is now “reading” them to us (“Lucy pulled the ball and Charlie Brown fell!”).
I love being able to share this with my son, because Charles Schulz has been one of my favorite artists since I was a kid. “But he’s just a cartoonist!,” you say. Yes, but more than any fine artist, his work has has a deep and personal impact on my life. I may appreciate Picasso, be fascinated by daVinci, and enjoy Monet. But Schulz’s art has been a direct influence how I see and understand the world. Growing up, we had a bunch of his books, and I read them constantly. Every year or two, I reread the stories, and as I grew up, the meaning of those stories changed and deepened. The concepts, ideas, and emotions got ingrained into my own perception of the world. It’s now hard to imagine not having those stories as part of my life.
I love Schulz’s ability to express a gut-felt emotion through a simple image and a focused story. And now that I am an artist myself, I also find myself inspired by uncompromising work ethic, and his ability to find balance between his work and his family. I’ve always wished I could thank him in person. But I’m glad that at least I can finally share his work with my children.
Added 8/21/07: you can now find online the Charlie Rose interview of Charles Schulz from 1997 which I highly recommend.