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Comics A.M. | ‘Naruto,’ ‘One-Punch Man’ top book store sales

Naruto Seventh Hokage

Graphic Novels | The one-volume Naruto sequel, Naruto: The Seventh Hokage and the Scarlet Spring, and the first four volumes of One-Punch Man dominate the BookScan top 20 graphic novels list for January, taking five of the top six slots and making room only for Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home. BookScan tracks sales in bookstores, and the presence of not only Fun Home but Watchmen and American Born Chinese suggests that graphic novels are popping up on lots of required-reading lists for the spring semester. Three collected editions of Star Wars comics, the first four volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, and the fifth volume of Saga also made the list. [ICv2]

Passings | Linus Maurer, a professional cartoonist whose name Charles Schulz borrowed for his Peanuts character, has died at the age of 90. Maurer was a co-worker of Schulz’s at the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis when Schulz was developing the characters for Peanuts. “Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has,” Schulz later wrote. “I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus.” Maurer started his career as an illustrator and was an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency before becoming a full-time cartoonist, working on a number of nationally syndicated comics including Old Harrigan, Abracadabra, and In the Beginning. In his later years he was a cartoonist for the Sonoma Index-Tribune. “I feel very honored that Schulz used my name in his strip,” Maurer said in an interview in 2000. “I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if the cartoon Linus had never existed. I think we have a lot in common. We’re both philosophical and level-headed.” Maurer didn’t carry a security blanket, but, he said, “I do keep a lot of sweaters and jackets in the trunk of my car.” [The Press Democrat]

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California campaign for Snoopy license plates reaches its goal

snoopy-plate-social

At long last the threshold has been met for California to produce official Snoopy license plates, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the state’s museums and zoos.

Begun in 2010 by the California Association of Museums, the effort required California residents to preorder 7,500 plates before the Department of Motor Vehicles would go into production. With that goal achieved, any drivers interested in purchasing the plates have only until Friday to complete their orders orders. That’s when the information is handed to the DMV.

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Comics A.M. | SDCC preregistration badge sale arrives Saturday

Comic-Con International

Comic-Con International

Conventions | Although it may seem way too early to begin the countdown to Comic-Con International, badge sales open Saturday at 9 a.m. PT for those who attended the 2015 convention and preregistration (this isn’t the annual mad dash, which arrives in a few months). If you’re eligible, you should receive your registration code by email at least 24 hours before badge sales open. Comic-Con provides a detailed walk-through of the process. [Toucan]

Legal | The Malaysian Federal Court affirmed a lower court’s ruling that the government shouldn’t have banned two books of Zunar’s political cartoons, 1Funny Malaysia and Perak Darul Kartun. “This is a victory for all cartoonists, it tells the Home Ministry and the government that drawing cartoons is not a crime,” Zunar said. He also said the ruling means that the government must also lift bans on all his books and drop sedition charges against him. “Stop raiding this my office, stop harassing my webmaster for selling the books online, and stop raiding and threatening printers and shops involved in the production and sales,” he said. [Malaysyakini]

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Comics A.M. | Amazon opens its first physical bookstore

Amazon Books in Seattle

Amazon Books in Seattle

Retailing | Online retail giant Amazon will open its first brick-and-mortar store this morning in Seattle’s upscale shopping center University Village. Called simply Amazon Books, the store features between 5,000 and 6,000 books, from bestsellers to Amazon.com customer favorites. “Amazon Books is a physical extension of Amazon.com,” Jennifer Cast, vice president of Amazon Books, said in a statement. “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping.” As The Seattle Times notes, the opening arrives with a dose of irony: For years Amazon has been able to undercut most other retailers largely because it didn’t have any physical locations. [The Seattle Times]

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Comics A.M. | Inside DC Comics’ diversity efforts

Black Canary #1

Black Canary #1

Publishing | Vox takes a lengthy look at the effects of DC Comics’ efforts to diversify, in terms of characters, titles and creators. The article, which includes interviews with Marguerite Bennett, Genevieve Valentine, Dan DiDio and Jim Lee, notes that while new titles like DC Comics Bombshells have been successful, others launched under the “DC You” umbrella – Black Canary and Midnighter, for instance — are on far shakier ground, sales-wise. However, Co-Publisher Lee suggests the company is standing behind the initiative: “I think it’s important for us to listen and to learn and basically to adjust and pivot. There is this emerging audience. Comics are changing. At the end of the day, if you’re going to remain competitive and grow and flourish, you have to be able to adapt and change and evolve.” [Vox.com]

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Happy 65th birthday, ‘Peanuts’

peanuts65-social

Sixty-five years ago today, good ol’ Charlie Brown strolled across the comics page, blissfully unaware that he was the subject of Shermy’s admiration and scorn. “Oh, how I hate him!” exclaimed the little boy, who would be all but forgotten in later years.

However, readers didn’t hate Charlie Brown, and eventually Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts grew from just nine newspapers to, at its peak, more than 2,600. Just two days after the strip’s debut, Schulz added Snoopy, followed over the next few years by Violet, Schroeder, Lucy, Linus and Pig-Pen, characters that, unlike Shermy and the original Patty, that have stood the test of time.

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‘The Peanuts Movie’ video spotlights Charles Schulz’s legacy

charles-m-schulz

The legacy of legendary cartoonist Charles M. Schulz is brought into focus in a new featurette for The Peanuts Movie called “The Art of Dreaming Big.”

“My dad always said, ‘If you read the comic strip you know who I am,” recalls son Craig Schulz, “and you can see that all the characters in the comic strip are really elements of him.”

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USPS celebrates ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ with limited edition stamps

0-0_USPS15STA051

The United States Postal Service gets into the holiday spirit with the Oct. 1 release of A Charlie Brown Christmas-themed Forever stamps. Though it may seem like they’re arriving a bit early, especially given the anti-commercialism themes of Charles Schulz’s animated special, the timing is a deliberate celebration of the strip’s Oct. 2 1950 newspaper debut.

Featuring ten images taken directly from the special, the limited edition release will be available as 20-stamp booklets.

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Comics A.M. | Was Snoopy behind the slow death of ‘Peanuts’?

Snoopy

Snoopy

Comic strips | Reflecting on Charles M. Schulz’s long-running Peanuts, Kevin Wong lays much of the blame for the comic strip’s slow decline at the feet of the increasingly popular Snoopy: “[N]ear the end of the 60s and well into the 70s, the cracks started to show. Snoopy began walking on his hind legs and using his hands, and that was the beginning of the end for the strip. Perhaps he was technically still a dog, but in a very substantial way, Snoopy had overcome the principal struggle of his existence. His opposable thumbs and upward positioning meant that for all intents and purposes, he was now a human in a dog costume. One of his new roleplays was to be different Joes — Joe Cool, Joe Skateboard, etc.” [Kotaku]

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Happy birthday, Snoopy

snoopy

To celebrate Snoopy’s birthday (and promote the upcoming animated feature), the producers of The Peanuts Movie have released a video in which director Steve Martino shows us out to draw everyone’s favorite beagle.

Why Aug. 10, when the character’s first appearance was on Oct. 4, 1950? It dates back to a 1968 Peanuts storyline by Charles M. Schulz, in which Snoopy is awakened by Linus in the middle of the night for a “secret mission” that turns out to be a surprise party. Peanuts.com re-ran that series just last week.

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‘Peanuts’ declares today National Franklin Day

PEANUTS

Peanuts is celebrating the 47th anniversary of the beloved comic strip’s first African-American character by declaring today National Franklin Day.

It’s a bit of promotion tied to the upcoming 3D-animated feature The Peanuts Movie, but it casts a welcome spotlight on Charlie Brown’s longtime friend, who was introduced by Charles M. Schulz on this day in 1968.

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Snoopy’s quadcopter doghouse will take flight over Comic-Con

snoopy

If you spot the famed World War I Flying Ace soaring over the San Diego Convention Center this week, you probably aren’t imagining things.

Inspired by the trailer for The Peanuts Movie, Otto Dieffenbach of Flyguy Promotions created a custom remote-controlled quadcopter to send Snoopy — atop his doghouse — flying through the air. Dieffenbach said he first flew Snoopy in February, but has kept the drone relatively under wraps for months, in preparation for its big debut at Comic-Con International.

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Boy, 8, unleashes hell on newspaper for axing his favorite comics

From Sunday's "Peanuts" reprint, appropriately enough

From Sunday’s “Peanuts” reprint, appropriately enough

As anyone who’s ever worked at a newspaper can attest, readers don’t react well to changes to the comics section, which is a major reason why so many strips trudge on, zombie-like, long after the spark of life left them. So when financial or space constraints force editors to eliminate some old favorites, they expect complaints — although not necessarily a profanity-laced tirade from an 8-year-old.

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California campaign for Snoopy license plates reaches final days

snoopy-plate

With time running out, the campaign to put Snoopy on a California license plate is still about 2,500 orders short.

Begun in 2010 by the California Associations of Museums, the effort is now down to the wire: Saturday is the deadline for the 7,500 preorders required for the Department of Motor Vehicles to begin production on the plate, which features Snoopy as drawn by creator Charles M. Schulz and the slogan “Museums Are For Everyone.” So far, about 5,000 orders have been placed.

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Comics A.M. | Theakston threatens action against Kirby Museum

Jack Kirby Museum

Jack Kirby Museum

Legal | Illustrator Greg Theakston tells The Comics Journal that during his Christmas vacation, he plans to file a police complaint against the Jack Kirby Museum and Research Center, alleging it stole about 3,000 photocopies of Kirby’s pencil work. Theakston gave the photocopies to the museum, but he contends it was intended to be a loan, while the museum says it was an outright donation. If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Theakston has been threatening legal action since August. [The Comics Journal]

Creators | Paul Tumey posts a charming series of letters from Pogo creator Walt Kelly to a young pen pal (who had a pet alligator named Albert), along with plenty of backstory. [The Comics Journal]

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