Friday, July 17, 2009

August 1, 1951: Charlie Brown and his Dad


This is not the first strip in which CB's empathic relationship with his father comes out. It only rarely comes up in the strip, but Charlie Brown greatly loves his father, and it's rather heartwarming, and I don't think in a saccharine way since it's often used as a subtext for a joke, when his expressions of affection come up.

Charles Schulz's father was a barber, like Charlie Brown's, who struggled to support his family through the Great Depression. After Charles Schulz's mother died shortly before he entered military service, he had to rely on his father for a period after he returned home. The two would pore over the comics pages of the newspapers each Sunday; they subscribed to two St. Paul papers, and Sparky would also pick up two Minneapolis papers from a drug store so they had four comics sections to go through.

The death of Schulz's father was possibly the reason Charlie Brown's father stopped figuring in the strips. Schulz seemed to take things from his life and give them a place in the strip. This theory would also explain those characters who would be introduced and even hang around for a long while, even becoming major players, before vanishing never to be seen again. These characters may have been based upon people Schulz knew, and when they left his circle of experience, the inspiration for writing them would dry up.


  1. I have always unconsciously associated Charlie Brown's father with my own father, to the point of always seeing my dad doing whatever Charlie's dad is supposed to be doing -- in this case, mowing the lawn.

    And on a not entirely unrelated note, here is something worth reading, given recent events.

  2. Aaah, farewell Cronkite. Wow. I can just barely remember seeing him on the nightly news. How sad, especially considering we need Walter Cronkites now more than ever.

    On Charlie Brown's father... there are one or two strips, not in the prototype time we're in now but not long after, in which Violet berates Charlie Brown for his dad being less popular or successful than her. Charlie Brown quite effectively puts her in her place, not cruelly, but simply taking her down to the barber shop, pointing out his dad, and telling her how hard he works. It's a great strip, I'll be sure to point it out when it comes up.