`Peanuts' Farewell: Cartoonists say goodbye to one of their own

Monday, January 3rd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- "AACK! I can't stand it!!" Cathy shouts Monday as she reads the last new daily "Peanuts" strip. In "Doonesbury," a drug-addled Zonker in a Charlie Brown-style
zigzag shirt stretches out on Snoopy's doghouse.

Comic strip artists, political cartoonists and newspapers paid tribute the best way they knew how to a cancer-stricken Charles
Schulz, whose last new daily "Peanuts" strip ran on Monday.

Many of the 2,600 newspapers that carry "Peanuts" ran the farewell strip on their front page.

"Cathy" artist Cathy Guisewite and "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau inserted "Peanuts" in their comic strips. Jason, a
character in the strip "Foxtrot," appeared as Pigpen. The characters in "Jump Start" mentioned Schulz and Charlie Brown.
In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, editorial cartoonist Dick Collier drew a picture of Charlie Brown lined up to kick a football
held by a Dallas Cowboy. The caption: "News item: After a successful career in the comics, Charlie Brown is signed as the Dallas Cowboys' new field goal kicker."

Kirk Anderson of the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press, drew a picture of Snoopy typing a story: "A shy local boy puts pen to paper, not knowing he will become the most successful and beloved cartoonist of all time.

"He raises the cartoon to high art; brings psychology, philosophy and theology into the comics; changes pop culture forever, gives the world characters as allegorical as Shakespeare's..."

"I hope this has a happy ending!" Snoopy then thinks, his mouth a worried squiggle.

Similarly poignant farewells have come from all corners of the globe for Schulz, 77, who is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer diagnosed in November. He alone wrote, drew, colored and lettered "Peanuts" for nearly 50 years.

The final daily "Peanuts" strip had a drawing of Snoopy at his typewriter, but there was no gag, just a letter signed by Schulz. In it, he thanked editors and "the wonderful support and love expressed to me by fans." He called the strip "the fulfillment of my childhood ambition."

Schulz' contract stipulates that no one else will ever draw the strip, which debuted Oct. 2, 1950, and reached an estimated 355 million readers daily in 75 countries.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote: "An era ends today."

"Good night, Charlie Brown," was the headline in Monday's Tampa Tribune, which also played the strip on the front page.

"He meant more to the public than just an artist who put out a funny strip," said Pat Mitchell, the Tribune's senior editor for
presentation. "He had enough impact to warrant the front page."

One last new Sunday strip will run on Feb. 13. After that, United Feature Syndicate will reprint old "Peanuts" strips, beginning with ones from 1974, a year chosen in part because by then, all the major characters had been introduced.

"There are so many things I'm going to miss," Schulz told his hometown paper, the Press Democrat of Santa Rosa, on Sunday. "I've
been thinking about this, and I think what I'm going to miss the most is Lucy holding the football and looking up and then the big bonk when Charlie comes down."

Schulz will be honored with a lifetime achievement award May 27 at the National Cartoonists Society convention in New York.

"We hope he'll recover health-wise to the point he can join us," said the group's spokesman, Chip Beck.

"I think cartoon strips before `Peanuts' made you look at the human condition, but they didn't necessarily make you look at yourself," Beck said. "With the `Peanuts,' you felt like it was me, or maybe your sister. You could identify with their anxieties, their angst, their frustrations."