We take a fresh look at old friends, going all the way back to Li’l Folks, the strip Schulz drew from 1947-50. Weaving elements of Schulz’s biography and his theological and spiritual witness with a discussion of his timeless characters and themes, we span close to six decades of artistic achievement. Along the way, we see his beloved Peanuts gang evolve before our eyes, both reflecting and shaping the times.
We focus exclusively on Charlie Brown, the strip’s “everyman,” the long-suffering, lovable loser with a heart of gold and the resilience of Job. Always the straight man, never the winning pitcher, perpetually unable to kick that football, the recipient of no valentines, and the patient victim of unrequited love for the little red-haired girl, Good Ol’ Charlie Brown is always ready with a crooked smile to mask his broken heart, and the eternal optimism that comes from faith in things and ideas bigger than himself.
Van Pelts ahoy! Linus, the gentle thinker and existential philosopher, is always there to comfort Chuck with a bit of wisdom or a snippet of scripture, his ubiquitous blanket and trusty thumb a ready panacea for the anxieties and injustices of this world. On the opposite pole is fuss-budget sister Lucy: crabby, quick to anger, and prone to serving up sarcastic retorts and the odd knuckle sandwich. Lucy exasperates all she encounters and serves as the pragmatic and worldly opposite to both the wishy-washy Charlie Brown and the pacifist dreamer Linus.
We wrap up our series with a fond look at Snoopy, the larger than life beagle with delusions of grandeur and no ego boundaries. Possessing the pathos of Charlie Brown without the suffering, the impetuosity of Lucy without the rage, and the depth of Linus without the meekness, Snoopy is the strip’s outlet for untrammeled exuberance and the limitless potential of human ingenuity. He embodies the force of imagination that drives faith, the creative power that makes us most like our Creator, and the bonds of hope and goodwill that bind us to all other creatures under heaven.