The last daily "Peanuts" comic strip by Charles Schulz ran on January 3, 2000. Many of the 2,600 newspapers that carried Peanuts ran the farewell strip on their front page. Here are five things you didn't know about one of the most popular and influential comic strips of all time...
The Character of Franklin Got His Last Name From a Cartoonist Who Had Grown up Admiring Franklin Yes, that's correct. Franklin, the African-American boy who Schulz introduced in the 1960s, did not have a last name until the 1990s. Robb Armstrong (the cartoonist who created JumpStart) had grown up reading Peanuts and was heavily influenced by Schulz's inclusion of Franklin. When Armstrong signed up with United Feature Syndicate, he sent a drawing to Schulz of a JumpStart character referencing Snoopy and later found that Schulz had framed the strip and displayed it on his wall. The two became friends, and when Peanuts was going to have a video special released, Schulz asked Armstrong if Franklin could use "Armstrong" as his last name.
Peanuts Was Originally Called L'il Folks Schulz's first version of Peanuts was called L'il Folks, and it debuted as a weekly panel in the Saturday Evening Post in 1947. The strip was kid-centered but did not contain many of Peanuts' most famous characters, including Snoopy and Linus. When Schulz signed a contract and expanded the strip, he had to change the name because L'il Folks sounded too close to L'il Abner, another comic strip. Schulz said he actually wasn't a fan of the new name but kept drawing because the work was worth it.
The Interior of Snoopy's Doghouse Has Been Seen Only Once And it's like the Peanuts kids' version of a TARDIS—bigger on the inside and containing exactly everything needed for the episode (because every doghouse just happens to have chemistry equipment stored away). In the animated special It's Magic, Charlie Brown, Snoopy heads into his doghouse, which turns out to merely be an entrance. In the few minutes you see him inside, he walks down a staircase into a giant basement locker room and workspace in which he attempts alchemy.
Schulz Really Did Die the Night Before His Last Sunday Strip Ran This is a morbid fact, but the timing is so stunning that it should be mentioned. The last original daily strip ran on January 3, 2000, but Schulz still had some Sunday comics ready to go. Those continued to run until February 13, 2000. However, Schulz died in his sleep in the evening of February 12, 2000, so on Sunday morning, readers were faced with a double whammy of a sweet goodbye from the strip and news of Schulz's death.
The Most Controversial Character of the Strip Is... Snoopy? When the Peanuts strip first started, Snoopy was emotional and easily influenced by the other characters. He provided the visible reaction to what the others were saying, which, in the early days, was usually rather depressing. Toward the end of the 1960s, however, Snoopy's character gained confidence and tended to take on more of an independent role that was not as influenced by the other characters. You might call this a natural progression, but the switch from reactive Snoopy to independent Snoopy made many readers uncomfortable. His confidence has been called narcissistic, shallow, and alienating. Still, Snoopy remains one of the most popular Peanuts characters.