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Folks who waited patiently since just after dawn on May 17, 2001, in front of Santa Rosa's Redwood Empire Ice Arena, were the first to purchase the new Snoopy First-Class U.S. Postage stamps. The stamps went on sale a day early in Santa Rosa; the rest of the nation could not purchase them until Friday, May 18. (AP photo/The Santa Rosa Press Democrat)

These articles are arranged from the most recent down, so you'll always find the newest news about Charlie Brown and his friends toward the top; older articles will be located further down, or on previous pages.

Woman buys 10,000 Snoopy stamps

May 29, 2001

The Associated Press

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Yvonne Grimes has been stuck on Snoopy for more than 40 years. Now Snoopy, of Peanuts comic strip fame, will be stuck on everything she mails.

Grimes' home is like a museum dedicated to the lovable beagle with Snoopy wallpaper, cookie jar and salt-and-pepper shakers.

She recently added to her collection with the purchase of 10,000 U.S. Postal Service commemorative "Peanuts" postage stamps.

The postage stamp, which was issued May 17, displays Snoopy in his familiar role as a World War I flying ace. The stamp is a tribute to the comic strip creator, Charles Schulz, who died last year only hours before the final Peanuts strip appeared.

Grimes said the $3,400 she spent for the stamps at 34 cents each, has been enhanced by 2,000 more supplied by friends and relatives.

"I figured out that I will never have to use another stamp for the rest of my life," Grimes said.

Snoopy will now be a regular fixture on all of Grimes' cards, invitations and bill payments.

"I've been a Snoopy fanatic since I was a very little girl," she said, saying her passion for beagle dates back to 1969, when the Apollo 10 lunar module was named for Schulz's character, and the then-9-year-old received an astronaut Snoopy from her sister to honor the occasion.

McDonald's Snoopy offer sparks China stampede

May 29, 2001

SHANGHAI, (Reuters) -- Call it the Snoopy stampede, Peanuts run amok or McMayhem.

What started as a chance for parents in the south China city of Guangzhou to treat their kids to a fuzzy doll of the popular cartoon dog soured after excited children, anxious parents and entrepreneurs keen on a quick buck thronged McDonald's fast food outlets.

In late April, the U.S. chain started offering the eight-inch Snoopy dolls for 10 yuan ($1.21) apiece with a "value meal" in a two-days-a-week promotion. But trouble started when stocks of the wildly popular toy ran thin and scuffles broke out after some enterprising customers picked up more than half a dozen of the stuffed canines, state media said.

One store's front window was smashed, the Shenzhen Business newspaper said in a Web site report.

McDonald's in Guangzhou declined comment. A Hong Kong spokeswoman said the firm was aware of numerous Chinese press reports, but gave no further comment.

Disgruntled Guangzhou residents flooded McDonald's hot-lines with complaints after queueing for hours without getting their hands on a Snoopy doll, state media said. Parents complained their children's education was on the line as disappointed students who collected anything but the full set of six dolls lacked the will to pursue their studies.

"McDonald's please pay attention to public morality. McDonald's don't make mischief anymore," lectured a headline in the official Southern Daily newspaper, quoting a weary mother.

Some took advantage of the promotion to set up a tidy business -- one youth was seen selling a Snoopy doll for 50 yuan, said a report on popular Web site www.sina.com.

A Guangzhou police official told Reuters on Tuesday the situation had returned to normal. Another police official added "This whole situation is too big for me to comment on. How about calling the city government?" City government officials declined comment.

McDonald's promotions have provoked similar incidents in Asia. A Singapore promotion of "Hello Kitty" dolls last year sparked a public debate among schoolteachers, housewives, academics and consumer analysts. They decried the way many people ordered dozens of meals to qualify for the Japanese cartoon cat, only to dump the uneaten burgers and soft drinks in trash cans immediately after.

In 1998, a Snoopy promotion provoked a similar frenzy in Hong Kong.

Postage stamp really 'Peanuts'

Fans had to come to Charles Schulz's town or wait till today for WWI flying ace

May 18, 2001

By Chris Smith
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The presence of a shy and exacting doodler was felt but not seen at a Santa Rosa skating arena Thursday as the U.S. Postal Service issued a 34-cent tribute to the late Charles Schulz.

A crowd of several thousand, many from out of state, turned out at Schulz's ice rink for the national release of a commemorative postage stamp bearing the cartoonist's most endearing character, Snoopy.

The new first-class stamp was sold Thursday only at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena and at Santa Rosa post offices; collectors everywhere else in the country had to wait until today to buy one.

"This is a great day for Santa Rosa," said the city's postmaster, Jeffrey Lelevich, at a day-of-issue ceremony conducted on the arena ice. " 'Peanuts' fans all over the world are envious of us."

The ceremony's featured speaker, Olympic skating champion Peggy Fleming Jenkins, said the playful and colorful stamp is an appropriate tribute to a man whose humor tickled the world.

"Sparky Schulz put his heart and soul into the characters of 'Peanuts,' and that's what captured us," said Jenkins, a friend of Schulz's who skated at the grand opening of his ice arena in 1969.

She said that as great as it was to win a gold medal in figure skating at the 1968 Olympic Games, "when Sparky included me in the 'Peanuts' strip for the first time, I knew I had truly arrived."

Schulz drew the "Peanuts" strip for nearly 50 years, 42 of them while living in Sonoma County and working at a studio down the street from the ice arena. He was 77 when he died at his Santa Rosa home of complications of colon cancer 15 months ago.

His wife, Jeannie Schulz, told the more than 1,000 people assembled inside the West Steele Lane arena that the light-hearted stamp should establish an immediate, friendly link between the sender of a letter and the receiver.

"I warn you," she added, "if you have a crabby letter to write, don't put a Snoopy stamp on it."

The Postal Service has printed 125 million of the new stamps, which portray Snoopy as the World War I flying ace, a pilot's leather helmet strapped onto his head and a yellow scarf blowing in the wind. Consumer demand will determine if any additional printings are necessary.

"We would love to sell them out and go through the process of considering printing more," said David Failor, a Postal Service spokesman who came to the ceremony from Washington, D.C.

The Snoopy stamp, designed by Paige Braddock, artistic director at the Santa Rosa agency that reviews requests for licensing of "Peanuts" characters, will have to sell extremely well to beat out America's most popular commemorative stamp. That's the Elvis Presley stamp, more than 500 million of which sold in 1993.

The first Snoopy stamp ever sold went Thursday morning to Laura Niemann, a newly hired Santa Rosa Transit bus driver who arrived at the arena at 5 a.m. She was at the head of the line when postal employees began selling stamps and day-of-issue caches -- specially decorated envelopes bearing a stamp and a commemorative cancelation -- at 830 a.m.

Niemann, 44, came hoping to make some money. She said she intends to sell the stamps and caches, one of which has an upside-down cancellation that she imagines might be worth a lot to the right collector.

A love of all things "Peanuts" motivated others among the estimated 5,000 people who showed up throughout the day and waited an hour or more to buy Snoopy stamps and caches.

Boston resident Scott McGuire, 33, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology software developer, said from near the front of the stamp line that he's not sure exactly why he has collected "Peanuts" books, videos and other products all his life.

"It's something I grew up with," said McGuire, who is in California chiefly for a conference in San Jose.

"I had a stuffed Snoopy as long as I can remember," he said. "When my parents gave me the first one, they didn't know what they were getting into."

Farther back in line was Miki Onodera, 42. She just recently moved to Santa Rosa from Japan, which buys more "Peanuts" merchandise -- clothing, jewelry, and character-imprinted household items such as toasters and clocks -- than any other country, even America.

The most popular 'Peanuts' character in Japan is Snoopy. Why?

"He's just cute," Onodera said as she inched closer to the stamp-purchase tent. "Nobody can say no to such a cute dog."

One of Schulz's sons, Monte Schulz, said amid the good-natured crowd outside the arena that if his dad were alive and were there, he probably would be greeting friends and fans, enjoying the attention and grimacing at requests for autographs.

"It's amazing all these people came out," the younger Schulz said. His brother, Craig Schulz, said the release of the 'Peanuts' stamp culminated discussions and planning that started years ago, when his father was well and hoping to draw the strip well into the new century.

"It's too bad he didn't get to see it," he said.

Snoopy puts stamp on SR

Commemorative postage only released locally -- at least until Friday

May 17, 2001

By Chris Smith
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Postal carriers, typically leery of dogs, seemed charmed Wednesday when Snoopy showed up at Santa Rosa's main post office to preview today's release of the nation's newest commemorative stamp.

The Snoopy mascot, the same one who skates often at the late Charles Schulz's ice arena near Coddingtown Mall, hugged carriers and postal clerks, then passed out pins and T-shirts emblazoned with the 34-cent postage stamp that will go on sale this morning only in Santa Rosa.

"Where's my dog spray?" one playful carrier called out as Snoopy worked the crowd inside the sorting area at the post office on Second Street.

The famed beagle's surprise visit was a prelude to today's stamp-release celebration at the Schulz family's ice arena on West Steele Lane.

The new stamp, bearing a Schulz drawing of Snoopy piloting his dog house as the World War I Flying Ace, will go on sale in a tent outside the arena at 830 a.m. Postal employees also will be selling, for $4, a collectible day-of-issue envelope bearing one of the Snoopy stamps and special cancellation.

The new stamp also will be available today at all Santa Rosa post offices. It will go on sale everywhere else in America on Friday.

Santa Rosa Postmaster Jeffrey Lelevich said it is a big deal for Santa Rosa to be the site of the national first-day release of a commemorative stamp.

"This has never happened in Santa Rosa before, even as large as we think we are," he said. "And it will probably never happen again."

Today's day-of-issue celebration at the ice arena will start at 1030 a.m. and will be presided over by Olympic ice skating champion Peggy Fleming, who was a friend of Schulz's.

The arena's doors will open at 930 a.m. A free skating session will begin following the ceremony and will continue until 2 p.m.

The new stamp commemorates the nearly 50 years that Schulz drew "Peanuts," for decades the world's most widely distributed comic strip. The cartoonist lived and worked in Sonoma County from 1958 until his death at age 77 last year from complications of colon cancer.

Snoopy postage stamp goes on sale in Santa Rosa

May 17, 2001

The Associated Press

SANTA ROSA, California - Snoopy launched his latest flight of fancy Thursday, gracing a new U.S. postage stamp in honor of the late Charles Schulz, creator of the long-running "Peanuts" comic strip.

The stamp features the lovable beagle astride his trusty doghouse sporting goggles, scarf and a helmet as a World War I flying ace eternally chasing his enemy, the Red Baron.

"I wish Sparky were here to see it," said figure skater Peggy Fleming, a friend of Schulz who attended an unveiling ceremony at the Redwood Empire Ice Arena where the comic strip artist used to skate.

The stamp is the latest in a series of tributes to Schulz.

In his hometown of St. Paul, Minn., statues of Charlie Brown, the main character of the Peanuts comic strip, will pop up on street corners and neighborhoods this summer for visitors from around the world.

A similar tribute in St. Paul last summer, featuring statues of Snoopy that later were auctioned, netted $1.2 million for a future bronze statue of Peanuts characters as a permanent tribute.

Schulz died from complications of colon cancer on Feb. 12, 2000, the day before publication of his last new Peanuts strip. He was diagnosed with the disease the previous fall and announced his retirement.

Schulz spent most of his strip-drawing years in Santa Rosa with his family. A museum celebrating Peanuts is under construction and is set to open in spring 2002.

A good number, Charlie Brown

May 12, 2001

By Karl J. Karlson
The St. Paul Pioneer Press

With lots of loose ends still to tie up for this summer's "Charlie Brown Around Town" tribute, St. Paul is close to topping last year's total of 101 Snoopy statues, organizers said Friday, the deadline for sponsoring one of the 5-foot-high decorated creations.

There will be at least 100 Charlie Brown statues for the city's second summer tribute to "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz, said Lee Koch of Capital City Partnership, one of the coordinating agencies.

Nearly all of the statues have been spoken for, although a few contracts remain to be signed, she said, and it is still possible that additional sponsors could be added.

Officials earlier had declined to specify the number of Charlie Brown statues while they worked out logistics and other concerns with the Schulz family and "Peanuts" syndicate.

The goal of the tribute is to raise money for a bronze statue to honor Schulz, who grew up in St. Paul.

The public can get a first look at many of the Charlie Brown statues next weekend, when artists take part in a paint-off event at RiverCentre.

Visitors at the June 3 Grand Old Day parade also will get an early peek at some statues. Several flat-bed trucks, each carrying six to eight statues, will take part in the Grand Avenue parade.

"They will be trucks with Chucks," said Megan Ryan, director of the city's marketing and promotion department, which is helping coordinate the tribute.

The completed statues then will be placed around downtown and scattered throughout the city during the first week in June.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau will again sponsor an information "Dog House" with maps showing the locations of all the Charlie Browns and city promotional materials. This year, it will be at Wabasha and Fifth streets on the Ecolab Plaza.

Last summer, the hut staffed by volunteers sat in front of the Science Museum of Minnesota on Kellogg Boulevard, but the street will be under construction much of the summer.

The Charlie Brown statues will be on location until mid-September before they are collected for a "Blockhead" party downtown. Then, on Sept. 30, like last year, many of the statues will be up for auction at the Mall of America.

Money raised by the auction will go to the Charles M. Schulz Fund, administered by the St. Paul Foundation, for the bronze sculpture. Some of the proceeds also will go for scholarships at two local art schools.

To get involved

The public can watch artists decorate their Charlie Brown statues next weekend at a paint-off event in the exhibit hall on the lower level of Touchstone Energy Place at RiverCentre. The artists will be working Friday through Monday, but the event will only be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. May 20 and 3 to 7 p.m. May 21.

Individuals, groups and companies interested in staffing the Convention and Visitors Bureau's information center can volunteer by calling (651) 265-4900.

For information about the tribute and upcoming events, visit www.ilovesaintpaul.com.

All-new Charlie Brown Valentine's Day Special to Premiere On ABC

New special based on Schulz's famed strip and longtime stalwarts "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will air on ABC beginning this October

May 9, 2001

New York (Entertainment Wire)

United Media, one of the largest character licensing companies in the world, today announced that the ABC network has picked up an all-new Peanuts Valentine's Day special for broadcast in February 2002.

Produced and animated by the same team as past Peanuts specials, Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, the story is taken directly from Charles M. Schulz's famed strip. In addition, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" will also make their debut on ABC in October.

The Peanuts Valentine's Day special is the first newly created television programming from the Peanuts team in over eight years. Since 1965, Schulz, Mendelson and Melendez created a library of over 63 primetime and direct-to-video specials and series. The Valentine's Day special marks the first new programming created since Schulz's death in 2000. Taken directly from the vast amount of archived strips that Schulz themed to the popular February holiday, Lee Mendelson will executive produce and Bill Melendez will produce and direct.

"We are extremely excited to be partnering with the creative team of Mendelson and Melendez once again," said Charles Schulz's son, Craig Schulz. "My father's strip is a wealth of meaningful themes and stories, and there is no one better to continue the tradition of producing these wonderful specials than the original team he worked with for 35 years. ABC, a network known for its excellence in family programming, is the perfect home for these classic works, as well as ones to come."

The three stalwarts of primetime television specials -- "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" -- will make their debut on ABC this October. ABC made the announcement on the heels of the Christmas episode's phenomenal success on CBS last year, in which a second primetime broadcast was added on Christmas night. Over the past four decades, the extensive library of Peanuts animation has received five Emmy and two Peabody awards. It has also received one Academy Award nomination, three Grammy nominations, and fifteen additional Emmy nominations.

Peanuts focuses on the anxieties and joys of childhood as expressed by an ensemble cast of children who often seem wise beyond their years. Among them are the lovable Charlie Brown, who perseveres despite continuous failure; the philosophical, blanket-carrying Linus; the fussbudget Lucy, who dispenses psychological advice for a nickel from behind a concession stand; and toy-piano virtuoso Schroeder. Central to the comic strip is Charlie Brown's dog, Snoopy, who first stood on his hind legs in 1958 and became extremely popular for his imaginative adventures as a number of characters.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1922, Charles M. Schulz began his fascination with comic strips early, reading the Sunday comics from four different newspapers with his father each week. With encouragement from his parents, Schulz enrolled in a correspondence course in cartooning. Peanuts debuted in syndication on October 2, 1950, and nearly all the 2,600 newspapers that published the strip before Schulz retired continue to publish classic Peanuts comic strips today. On February 12, 2000, Charles M. Schulz died in Santa Rosa, California, of complications from colon cancer, only hours before his last original Peanuts strip appeared in Sunday papers.

About Lee Mendelson (Executive Producer)

Lee Mendelson's association with Charles Schulz stretches back to 1963, when he approached the cartoon strip creator about bringing the Peanuts gang to television. Mendelson had recently produced the well-received documentary on baseball great Willie Mays titled "A Man Called Mays," and thought it would be interesting to produce something on a less successful athlete, Charlie Brown. Schulz agreed, and the result was "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which debuted on CBS in 1965, with Mendelson as Executive Producer. The two men continued their long-term association until Schulz's death, working together on the numerous television programs and specials featuring the Peanuts characters.

About Bill Melendez (Producer and Director)

Bill Melendez began his animation career in 1938, when he was hired by Walt Disney to work on such projects as "Fantasia," "Pinocchio," "Bambi" and "Dumbo." From there, he signed with Leon Schlesinger Cartoons (later Warner Bros.), animating some of the most memorable short subject pieces featuring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. In addition to his work on Peanuts, Melendez has animated numerous other characters including Cathy and Frosty the Snowman. The recipient of numerous awards, Melendez began his association with Charles Schulz in 1965, when he produced and directed "A Charlie Brown Christmas."

No 'Luncheon on the Grass, Charlie Brown'?

May 3, 2001

By Laura Billings
St. Paul Pioneer Press

In the artist's sketch, Charlie Brown wore a gown made of glitter, bright red lipstick, and stood on a pedestal with a provocative title that delicately asked the location of the nearest, uh, water closet.

"Oh, it was just horrifying," recalls Sara Richter, a project manager handling this summer's "Charlie Brown Around Town" display. "Very, very scary."

Students of art history will recall that's the same thing they said about Edouard Manet's strangely dingy "Olympia." The same thing they said about that creepy burial scene by Gustav Courbet. The same thing they said about so many of the great artists whose work was so routinely rejected by the state-sponsored Salon -- the 19th-century French version of "Peanuts on Parade" -- that they created their own exhibition, le Salon des Refuses.

It's an idea that may be worth reviving here in St. Paul, when some 450 hopeful Charlie Brown artisans find out they didn't make the cut, and that their work will not be featured on any of the 101 statues displayed around town all summer. Even before City Hall opened its doors to allow statue sponsors to sift through about 550 sketches this week, project managers and Charles Schulz's family tossed about 60 sketches (like the above-mentioned transvestite Charlie Brown) that included uncomfortable political overtones, corporate logos or major mechanical headaches.

"Now we don't mean to discourage artists -- we wanted to make Charlie a blank slate for their creativity," explains project manager Jenifer Robins. "It's just that some people were so clever, they were sort of overcreative."

Among the rejected Foxxy Brown, a statue featuring Charlie Brown as the scantily-clad female rap star whose every link on the Internet takes you to a restricted adult site.

"I think the problem was that it had hair," recalls Robins, who notes the same fate befell the fat Elvis-impersonating "Hunka Hunka Burnin' Charlie Brown." Of course, lack of hair didn't necessarily save a selection. Several Jesse Ventura Charlie Browns were also voted down.

Other submissions we'll never see A statue featuring Charlie Brown holding a hand drill. ("Cute, but dangerous," says Robins.) A Charlie Brown in the center of a snow globe. ("Cute, but what if it didn't work?" says Richter.) A Spring Flood Charlie Brown, in a box of sand and water. ("Looks cute on paper, but..." says Robins.)

One submission recasting Charlie Brown as the wild-eyed Irish mythic hero Cuchulain -- the one who died on the battlefield in a standing position, his foes afraid to approach him until they saw vultures pecking at his flesh -- could have been a big hit with St. Paul's Irish population but missed the mark with the Charles Schulz's son Craig, who dropped it from consideration.

"I think he was kind of scared," says Megan Ryan, from St. Paul's marketing and promotions department. "Maybe he'd never heard of Cuchulain."

And sadly, no one will see it unless some courageous art patron steps in to underwrite St. Paul's own exhibit of chucked Chucks, the hundreds of rejected Charlie Browns who may simply have been ahead of their time. Luckily, there are still signs that purveyors of public art are sometimes willing to take a chance. Yesterday, two RiverCentre representatives sifted through the pile of Peanuts proposals and picked a sketch of Charlie Brown with a big yellow face, punctuated, Picasso-like, with nothing but two black circles for eyes.

"I think we'll get flak for this," said marketing assistant Amber Bintliff.

"Our colleagues will think 'You guys are way weird for picking this,' " said her boss Mary Sienko.

As art historians know, that's the same thing they said about all the great ones.

Schulz hockey tourney to return in 2002

May 3, 2001

By Chris Smith
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

The summertime hockey tournament that Charles Schulz loved will resume in 2002 after a one-year hiatus, and Santa Rosa tourism officials are hoping local businesses will kick in money to help assure that the tourney will continue far into the future.

Heirs of "Peanuts" creator Schulz had considered eliminating the Snoopy Senior Ice Hockey Tournament as a way to cut operating losses at the ice arena that the cartoonist built near Coddingtown Mall in 1969.

But Schulz's wife, Jean, and his children and stepchildren have decided to continue the mid-summer tournament, at least for one year.

It will not be held this year because the arena is undergoing a $1 million renovation and mechanical upgrade, but it will resume next year.

Schulz's family was encouraged to continue the weeklong tournament because it draws about 1,500 hockey players and spectators from around the nation and overseas.

Officials of the Santa Rosa Convention & Visitors Bureau estimate that the hockey tournament generates more than $2 million in revenue each year for Santa Rosa-area hotels, restaurants, wineries, golf courses, shops and other businesses.

The tournament has been a money loser, however, for Schulz's ice arena. Schulz, an avid hockey player himself, absorbed the loss and provided participating players with costly gifts such as jackets.

After Schulz died at his Santa Rosa home from complications of cancer in February of 2000, his heirs said it was necessary to cut the losses at the ice arena.

They reduced the management staff and prepared for this summer's modernization project, which will reduce the energy required for maintaining the ice and heating the building.

Susan Anderson, director of the convention and visitors center, is promoting sponsorships and advertising as a means of helping the arena to cover the costs of the hockey tournament.

Jim Doe, the ice arena and gift shop's vice president of operations, said the 2002 tournament will happen with or without the sponsorships, which were conceived by the visitors' bureau.

He said the 2002 tourney will be little different than the 26 that proceeded it.

"Some of the gifts (to participants) will probably be scaled back a little bit, but not a lot," he said.

The tournament -- in which Schulz played each year with the Santa Rosa Diamond Icers -- is open to players 40 to 75.

Charlie Brown Getting New Look

'Charlie Brown Around Town' sponsors are working to select the designs that will grace their statues in St. Paul this summer

May 2, 2001

By Karl J. Karlson
St. Paul Pioneer Press

A St. Paul Foundation team of four pawed through the city's 550 artists' interpretations of "Charlie Brown" on Tuesday, looking for the perfect statue design to sponsor this summer.

Carrie Jo Short, foundation program officer, said they wanted a design that represents the character of the foundation and its staff, donors and grant recipients.

"We are by, of and for our community. We want a design that conveys that," she said.

The foundation team had booksful to choose from -- drawings by several dozen schoolchildren as well as designs by amateur artists, professional artists and designers.

Folks have responded by the hundreds to a call to help St. Paul continue its tribute to the late cartoonist Charles Schulz. This year, it will be "Charlie Brown Around Town." Last summer, it was "Peanuts on Parade," which featured 101 statues of Snoopy, the beagle from Schulz's comic strip.

The goal of the events is to promote summer fun in the city and raise money for a bronze collection of "Peanuts" characters to honor Schulz, who grew up in St. Paul.

The foundation staffers -- Chris Vitek, director of executive services; Lisa Winkler, director of marketing and communications; Jane Johnson, administrative assistant; and Short -- plowed through the offerings. They rejected design after design, despite comments that almost all were colorful or attractive.

"You can't rush great art," Short said of the process.

Some were rejected because they showcased Minneapolis, some because they were too colorful. One was dropped because it had a fish swimming across Charlie Brown's head, though Vitek opined that the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or Friends of the Mississippi might like it.

After an hour of art commentary, Short handed Vitek a design for "It's a Big World, Charlie Brown," by the firm Go East Design.

On that design, the Mississippi River formed the zigzag on Charlie Brown's shirt, and there were scenes of the Como Conservatory, other city parks, the downtown St. Paul skyline and more landmarks.

"This is it," Vitek proclaimed with the others' agreement.

The process of picking a design will continue through the week as sponsors -- already 90 of them -- finalize their choices. By the May 10 deadline, organizers hope to have more than 100 Charlie Browns, according to Megan Ryan of the city's marketing and promotion department.

The experience of the St. Paul Foundation team in making a selection was typical. It took a team of three from Minnesota Life two hours to find -- and fall in love with -- "Sunburnt Charlie Brown," a design by artist Troy Olin of a red-faced boy with sunglasses.

"The statue is going in front of the Minnesota Business Academy (a charter school in downtown), so we wanted something that was youth-related," said Maggie Jensen, spokeswoman for the insurance firm and one of the team.

"We almost picked one with a cowboy lassoing a star because the logo for the Business Academy has a star in it," she said.


To sponsor a statue in "Charlie Brown Around Town," this summer's St. Paul tribute to the late cartoonist Charles Schulz, call (651) 265-4920. The sponsorship deadline is May 10.

Other information about the tribute and upcoming events is available at (651) 266-8989 or www.ilovesaintpaul.com .

'Charlie Brown' events

"Charlie Brown Around Town" is under way, with sponsors in the process of selecting designs for their statues. Here is a sample of tribute events

May 18-21 Public Paint-off, at which artists decorate statues. The event, in the lower lever of Touchstone Energy Place, will be open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. May 20 and 2 to 7 p.m. May 21.

June 4-6 Statues are delivered to sponsors and put on public display.

September Statues will be gathered for display downtown for a Sept. 15-16 "Blockhead" Party.

Late September Statues will be moved to Mall of America for a Sept. 30 auction.

Santa Rosa to get sneak preview of Snoopy stamp

Skater Peggy Fleming will preside over release of 'Peanuts' stamp on May 17

April 27, 2001

By Chris Smith
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Stamp collectors and "Peanuts" fans will converge on the late Charles Schulz's ice arena in three weeks for the release of the new Snoopy postage stamp.

Olympic figure skater Peggy Fleming will preside over a day-of-issue ceremony to start at 1030 a.m. on May 17. The program will take place inside the ice arena that Schulz built three decades ago on Santa Rosa's West Steele Lane.

The Postal Service's newest first-class stamp, featuring a Schulz drawing of Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, will go on sale that day, only in Santa Rosa. It will be available at post offices nationwide the following day.

The 34-cent stamp commemorates the nearly 50 years that Schulz drew the universally popular "Peanuts" comic strip. Schulz was 77 when he died of cancer at his Santa Rosa home on Feb. 12, 2000, the day before his final original Sunday strip appeared in 2,600 newspapers around the world.

Organizers of the new-stamp ceremony in Santa Rosa expect a big crowd.

"Peanuts collectors are a large group, and stamp collectors also are a large group," said Ruth Gardner Begell, director of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, which is under construction adjacent to the ice arena.

The ceremony will be free and will be followed by a free skating session.

Begell said she will seize the event as an opportunity to distribute information about the museum, expected to open next spring, and to make memberships available.

Schulz, a native of Minnesota who lived and worked in Sonoma County for 42 years, was the world's most successful cartoonist. His "Peanuts" strip, featuring Charlie Brown, his peripatetic beagle and their pals, spawned TV shows, books and licensed products that continue to generate more than $1 billion in annual sales.

The late cartoonist's wife, Jeannie Schulz, and a son, Monty Schulz, will be among the speakers at the approximately hourlong ceremony inside the ice arena. The master of ceremonies will be Fleming, whose achievements include winning the gold medal at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.

In April 1969, Fleming came to Santa Rosa at Schulz's invitation and appeared in the opening-day celebration at his Redwood Empire Ice Arena.

"The neat thing about her being the emcee is that she was a friend of Sparky," as Schulz was known to many, said James Doe, general manager of the ice arena and adjacent gift shop.

Postal officials will set up a tent outside the skating rink and will begin selling the Snoopy stamps at 830 a.m. on the 17th. Also on sale will be collectors' envelopes that will bear the new stamp and a special commemorative cancellation.

Postal Service spokesman Horace Henshaw in San Francisco said the new stamp also will be available that day at all Santa Rosa post offices. It will go on sale everywhere else in the nation May 18.

The commemorative stamp was designed by Paige Braddock, a former newspaper design editor who is now senior vice president and art director at Creative Associates, the Santa Rosa agency that reviews worldwide requests for licensing of products that use likenesses of Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Woodstock and the other "Peanuts" characters.

Postal authorities unveiled the stamp last September in Minneapolis.

The ceremony at the ice arena will be followed by free skating until 2 p.m.

Postal authorities said collectors may learn more about the Snoopy stamp by going online to www.usps.com and selecting "Stamp Release Schedule."

Schulz's grandchildren to paint two Charlie Browns

April 24, 2001

By Curt Brown
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Calling it "kind of a neat tribute to our grandpa," two of cartoonist Charles Schulz's grandchildren will fly to St. Paul next month to paint a pair of polyurethane statues of Charlie Brown.

"We're really excited and we can't wait," Stephanie Johnson, 17, said Monday from her home in Alpine, Utah. "Knowing my grandfather, he'd probably say something sarcastic like 'Why are you wasting your time painting my stuff?' "

Brian Johnson, 16, sounded like a self-deprecating chip off the former St. Paul resident as he detailed his plan to paint a "classic Charlie Brown" with the yellow shirt bisected by a black zig-zag.

"I'm not real creative, but I thought this would be kind of a neat tribute to our grandpa and my own way of doing something special to remember him," Brian said.

Monday was the deadline for artists to submit drawings for the second public art project aimed at honoring Schulz, a barber's son who grew up in Depression-era St. Paul and sketched his way into the psyche of American pop culture with his moon-faced "Peanuts" comic strip kids.

After his death last year, St. Paul officials decided to commemorate the hometown cartoonist by placing 101 5-foot-tall, polyurethane Snoopys around town. It proved to be such a wildly popular attraction that they decided to launch a sequel with Charlie Brown statues this summer.

Organizers were thrilled Monday when they received a check for $7,200 from Schulz's daughter, Amy Johnson, and learned that the oldest of her nine children would paint the two sculptures she's sponsoring.

"As we study our genealogy, we realize that St. Paul is really where my father's roots are, and the whole strip is really based on his life in Minnesota," Amy said. "We figured, hey, if all these other people are going to be painting Charlie Browns, why can't Stephanie and Brian?"

Despite his self-proclaimed lack of creativity, Brian is "a very good artist, drawing Snoopys and his own inventions and I want to encourage that," Amy Johnson said.

Stephanie said she prefers lettering to drawing and plans to use some of her grandpa's favorite quotations on her Charlie Brown.

Sponsors will start selecting designs for their statues May 1, and Stephanie and Brian will fly to town with their dad for the so-called "Paint-off" May 18. At the end of the summer, the Johnsons plan to have their Charlie Browns auctioned off so proceeds can benefit local cartooning scholarships and a permanent Schulz memorial in downtown St. Paul.

Interest in new 'Peanuts' statues is high

Potential sponsors already number 70

April 14, 2001

By Karl J. Karlson
St. Paul Pioneer Press

More than 70 potential sponsors have inquired about statues for St. Paul's "Charlie Brown Around Town," including a large number of new sponsors, according to the city officials working on the tribute to the late cartoonist Charles Schulz.

Megan Ryan, director of city marketing and promotions, said the event committee is "very pleased" with responses since first word came out two weeks ago.

The Charlie Brown statues will try to create the same kind of popularity that last summer's "Peanuts on Parade" promotion did with 101 Snoopy statues scattered around downtown and St. Paul neighborhoods.

"It shows this summer there will be a lot of activity and fun in the city again," Ryan said, adding that organizers have not determined yet how many Charlie Browns statues there will be.

Early on, however, many of last year's statue sponsors seem ready to try it again.

Tom Johnson, for example, said his firm -- A. Johnson and Sons Florists at 1738 Grand Ave. -- is on board. Last year's "Snoopy Garden Party" statue drew so much attention that customers want the store to take part again.

"We've had 30 to 40 people ask if we were going to have a Charlie Brown. People expect it," he said this week.

The West Seventh Pharmacy, 1106 W. Seventh St., also plans to sponsor a statue again. Last year's "Patchwork Snoopy" became a kind of neighborhood icon in front of the store.

"It was a lot of fun. We had the artist here one day painting kids faces; we had Minnesota Twins here signing autographs," said Linnea Forsell, co-owner of the store.

"We hope this summer will be top-notch again, that this sort of thing has not become passe," Forsell said.

But Juergen Weidling, owner of River City Agency, is less certain whether he'll sponsor a follow-up to last year's "Pig's Eye Snoopy."

"How many different ways can you dress up Charlie Brown? He's got that yellow sweater with the zigzag, and that's it," Weidling said.

Last summer, sponsorship cost $3,100 for an undecorated statue and $4,100 for an artist-decorated statue. This summer, the fees are $3,700 and $4,700, with the $1,000 difference going to the artist. There is also a $4,000 donation fee for sponsors who choose not to give up their statues for the fund-raising auction finale.

To learn more

More information about the "Charlie Brown Around Town" is available on the tribute's official Web site, www.ilovesaintpaul.com.

For information about sponsoring a Charlie Brown statue, call (651) 265-4920. The application deadline is May 10.

For artists interested in creating one of the statues, there will be a workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday in the Jerome Hill Theater of the U.S. Bank Trust Center, 180 E. Fifth St. To sign up, call the artists' phone line at (651) 266-8542.

'It'll take a few more peanuts to attend KC's theme park'

April 5, 2001

By Liz Austin
The Kansas City Star

Worlds of Fun opens its 29th season Saturday, boasting a new Snoopy-themed playland for children.

But a family trip to the amusement park will cost a little more than it did last year.

Children's single-day tickets will increase $4, to $11.95 (for children 4 and older who are less than 48 inches tall). Single-day ticket prices for adults will increase $1.55, to $33.50.

Children's and senior citizens' season passes also will increase $1, to $40. Family and individual season passes will stay the same.

The park's operators review ticket prices at other parks and increase admission fees to stay on par with industry standards, said Kathy Bellew, a spokeswoman for Worlds of Fun. The parks' junior ticket prices are still among the lowest in the country, she said.

In spring 2000, Worlds of Fun adult tickets had increased $2, with a $1 increase for Oceans of Fun adult tickets.

Worlds of Fun's new Camp Snoopy is the fifth of its kind, with the others in Cedar Point, in Sandusky, Ohio; Knott's Berry Farm, in Buena Park, Calif.; Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom near Allentown, Pa.; and the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn.

The entire Peanuts gang will be on hand every day to welcome guests to the new attractions, which replace Berenstain Bear Country in the south end of the park between the Detonator and the Timber Wolf.

Parents can join their children on several of the area's 13 rides, including Woodstock's Airmail and Snoopy's Camp Bus.

Woodstock's Airmail, which resembles a miniature Detonator with seats that look like mailboxes, lifts riders up a tower and drops them back down on a cushion of compressed air.

Children can also fly in the Red Baron's swinging airplanes, take a train ride on the Woodstock Express and jump on an oversized inflatable air mattress in Snoopy Bounce. The area will also feature shows in the Campground Theater.

The park's administrators decided to phase out the Berenstain Bears because of Camp Snoopy's success in other parks, Bellew said.

"Snoopy is extremely popular, with both children and their parents," she said.

Worlds of Fun's sister theme park Oceans of Fun opens May 26. Ticket prices also will increase there, with single-day tickets going for $22.95 for adults and $11.95 for children.

Worlds of Fun facts

Opening date 10 a.m. Saturday, April 7

Schedule Saturdays and Sundays through May 20. Daily May 21 through Aug. 26. Open Labor Day weekend, Sept. 1-3, then Saturdays and Sundays Sept. 8 through Oct. 28.

Single-day cost (not including tax) Adult tickets, $33.50. Junior tickets, $11.95 (for those 4 and older who are less than 48 inches tall). Senior citizens, $16.50 (60 and older). After 4 p.m. $16.50 (any age more than 48 inches tall). Children 3 and younger admitted free.

Season passports (not including tax) Family season passport (minimum purchase of three); $60. Individual season passport $65. Junior/Senior season passport; $40.

Address 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave. Off the east loop of I-435 at Exit 54.

For more information Call (816) 454-4545 or check out www.worldsoffun.com.

Charlie Brown offers lots of art opportunity

April 5, 2001

By Laura Billings
St. Paul Pioneer Press

It's been an exciting week in the world of art.

In Paris, the Louvre announced plans to give Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" a room of her own, with financing from the Japanese, who may be hoping the gift will make up for their flagrant disregard of the "no flash" signs surrounding the masterpiece.

In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that his new "decency panel," pledged to judge the morality of public art, will include his own divorce lawyer and Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa, who listed his art historical credentials thusly "I know the difference between a Michelob and a Michelangelo."

In New Mexico, the Archbishop of Santa Fe complained that a bikini-clad version of the Virgin Mary on display at the Museum of International Folk Art was an assault on Catholic sensibilities.

And here in St. Paul, Mayor Norm Coleman donned a bright yellow T-shirt with a big black zigzag and took a run at a football held by Lowertown artist Ta-coumba Aiken, kicking off the next chapter in our city's nonstop celebration of Peanuts characters, "Charlie Brown Around Town." This odd bit of performance art was meant to recapture some of the magic of our Summer of Snoopy, last year's fiberglass artfest that drew about 450,000 visitors and poured an estimated $20 million into the local economy.

I would be skeptical about all of this had I not visited Chicago this past weekend, and seen the innovative approach they've taken with the painted cows left behind after their own summer spectacle ended. The cows that haven't been put out to pasture now graze from the sides of buildings. For instance, the green one hanging head down from to the second story of the Terra Museum on Michigan Avenue recalls that Fred Astaire movie where he dances on the ceiling.

Seen from this angle, the cows are mysteriously elevated from public nuisance to public art. And they made me wonder what would happen if we tried the same thing here, and put some cutting-edge artists on the case. Here, a few suggestions to get you kids in Lowertown thinking

Instead of spreading all 100 Charlie Browns across town, let's concentrate them into a single catharsis of wonder, rather like the monolithic heads of Easter Island, or the terra cotta soldiers that guard the tombs of Chinese emperors. Harriet Island would be a good spot for the collection, since it's going to take more than a new McDonald's to justify a gondola trip across the river.

The Brooklyn Museum of Art, an institution that has always had a hard time attracting tourists away from Manhattan, has transformed itself into must-see museum by highlighting the work of controversial artists. St. Paul could try the same approach this summer with a Charlie Brown covered in elephant dung. Or Charlie Brown's Last Supper. People would be outraged. The mayor would form a decency panel. Ventura would say something dumb about Picasso again. C'mon! It would be fun.

"Explorer Snoopy," the statue strapped to a moving truck, was a sensation everywhere it went last summer. Why not take the touring concept to a whole new level, and strap every Charlie Brown statue to a raft that our city would send, Huck Finn-like, down the Mississippi River? Put a video camera inside Charlie Brown's oversized head to add to the interactive experience.

In New York City last year, their own painted cows were much edgier than our Snoopys. For instance, the filmmaker David Lynch's cow creation was decapitated, and covered with oozing viscera, and entitled "Eat My Fear." Couldn't we try the same gritty commentary here -- maybe a pasty green statue, prostrate on the sidewalk with the title "America's First Urban Ethanol Plant Charlie Brown"?

Welcome home, Charlie Brown!

St. Paul plays host to more Peanuts statues

April 4, 2001

By Karl J. Karlson
The St. Paul Pioneer Press

St. Paul city officials launched "Charlie Brown Around Town" on Tuesday, calling on community sponsors and artists to repeat the outpouring of support that greeted last summer's "Peanuts on Parade" tribute to the hometown creator of the popular comic-strip characters.

"We saw last summer the power of Charles Schulz's work to draw people to St. Paul from all over the world, but the bottom line is the tribute to Schulz, a native son," Mayor Norm Coleman said Tuesday.

The formal "kick-off" at Harriet Island Regional Park even had a football theme re-creating the familiar Charlie-Lucy scenario.

Coleman, decked out in Charlie Brown's familiar yellow shirt with a zigzag bar, booted a football held by artist Ta-coumba Aiken, one of the artists who created the 101 Snoopy statues that were scattered throughout St. Paul last year.

The St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that last summer's tribute drew at least 450,000 visitors and put $20 million into the area's economy. Bureau President Tom Getzke predicted that more than a half-million visitors will come this summer to see the Charlie Brown statues.

In fall, many of the statues will be auctioned to raise more money for a bronze sculpture of "Peanuts" characters that will be a permanent city tribute to the late cartoonist, who died in February 2000. Last year's event cleared about $800,000 and also helped fund art scholarships.

This week, the city mailed invitations to last summer's sponsors. To take part this summer, they need to respond by Friday.

After that, sponsorships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, with a deadline of May 10. Officials have not said how many of the 5-foot polyurethane statues will be made this year.

Sponsorships this year cost $3,600 for an undecorated statue or $4,600 for one completed by an artist. The additional $1,000 goes to the artist. If sponsors choose not to donate their statues for auction, they will have to pay a $4,000 fee that will go into the Schulz tribute fund.

The city also is mailing forms to several thousand area artists to see if they want to take part, but Randi Johnson said anyone can apply.

"That's the beauty of this project, that people can take part, everyone can feel a part of this," she said. Johnson is owner of TivoliToo, which will make the statues, and has been a confidant of the Schulz family for many years.

Aiken, speaking for the St. Paul Artists Cooperative, said he was looking forward to creating another image on a Schulz character.

"There was so much love coming from what we did with Snoopy last summer that I smiled for three months, until it almost hurt," he said.

Organizers credit area businesses with much of the success for last summer's event because of their willingness to take part and donate services. Again this year, for example, Kraus-Anderson construction has offered to transport all the Charlie Brown statues around town.

"People sent us cards (and) brought cakes to the office because we did this," said Jack Schletty, senior vice president of the construction company. He said it is nice to get the recognition, but it is more special for the company to be "giving back to St. Paul."

Good grief! A hundred Charlie Browns!

April 4, 2001

By Curt Brown
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Starting in May, about 100 5-foot polyurethane statues of Charlie Brown are expected to be painted with distinctive designs and scattered around the city in a spinoff of last year's Snoopy tribute to the late hometown "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz.

"Last year, a lot of artists were like, 'I don't know, I'm not so sure,' " said artist Ta-Coumba Aiken. "Well, now they know that this project puts smiles on people's' faces. They saw something happen that they didn't believe, so I'm hopeful this will catch right up to the fervor we saw last year."

Nearly a half-million people, including some from 50 different nations who signed guest books, checked out the 101 Snoopys last year, according to Tom Getzke, president of St. Paul's Convention and Visitors Bureau. He predicts that Charlie Brown will be just as popular as his buoyant beagle.

And Charlie looks like he's been snacking on steroids, based on the prototype unveiled Tuesday.

"It does look like he's been working out," Mayor Norm Coleman said. "He's a little sturdier than Snoopy."

That's because Charlie will include stronger steel reinforcements and fewer appendages than Snoopy, who was occasionally vandalized or accidentally injured.

"The problem was we had people crawling up tails and sitting on the heads last year," said Hart Johnson, who along with his sister, Randi Johnson, serve as St. Paul's link to Schulz's family.

The two befriended Schulz before his death 14 months ago and had his blessing to re-create "Peanuts" characters at their Tivoli Too statue and design studio in Highland Park.

Hart Johnson said that although the official number of Charlie Browns hasn't been determined, organizers want to be sensitive to the Schulz family's concerns. "They don't want it to be overwhelming and oversaturate the market so it loses its appeal to the common people," he said.

Statues are to hit the streets June 3. Proceeds from a Sept. 30 auction will be earmarked for art scholarships and a permanent bronze sculpture of the Peanuts gang.

Good Grief! Charlie Brown will be in town

April 1, 2001

By Mary Lynn Smith
Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune

Charlie Brown, everyone's favorite loser, will be the toast of St. Paul this summer in a sequel to last year's popular Snoopy tribute to "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz.

City officials hope to recapture some of the excitement, as well as tourist income, generated by "Peanuts on Parade," which featured 101 decorated statues of the buoyant beagle.

The St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated that Snoopy attracted more than 450,000 people who spent $20 million to $25 million.

"It was a success beyond our expectations," said Mayor Norm Coleman. "It created an upbeat feeling around town."

It also helped raise money toward a permanent tribute to the late cartoonist, who grew up in St. Paul.

Sixty-one Snoopy statues were auctioned, raising $1.2 million. After expenses, more than $800,000 went to a fund to finance a bronze sculpture of the "Peanuts" gang, an endowed chair of illustration at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul and scholarships at the Art Instruction Schools, a Minneapolis correspondence school where Schulz studied and taught.

Although there was some hesitation about a sequel to Snoopy, Coleman argues that the "magic" of Schulz's Charlie Brown character should have no problem drawing crowds.

Coleman will detail this summer's plans and unveil a 5-foot polyurethane Charlie Brown prototype during a ceremony Tuesday at Harriet Island.

Sponsors can buy an undecorated statue for $3,600, up from $3,100 for Snoopy. Or, for an extra $1,000, they can buy one that has been decorated. City officials will solicit artists who want to design those statues.

City officials will take orders until May 10 with hopes of getting all the Charlie Browns on the streets by early June, said Megan Ryan, marketing director for the city. City officials say they have no estimate on the number of Charlie Browns that will appear throughout the city because it depends on how many are bought by sponsors.

With lessons learned from last year, Ryan said, the city officials, along with the Capital City Partnership and the Convention and Visitors Bureau, will provide more organized activities for children and families such as a Blockhead Party.

The statues will be made more durable in hopes that they will be better able to withstand hugs and eager climbers, Ryan said. Last year a few of the Snoopy statues lost ears and tails.

By late September, the Charlie Brown statues will be sold at auction.

Sponsors who don't want to donate their statues for auction will pay a donation fee. For those who sponsored a Snoopy last year, the fee will be $4,000; new sponsors will pay $6,000.

City officials hope the Charlie Brown summer will tide the city over until the permanent bronze "Peanuts" gang sculpture is unveiled in late December in downtown St. Paul.

"This will be a fabulous summer in St. Paul with Charlie Brown drawing a lot of people who will be spending money," Coleman said.

Charlie Brown coming to St. Paul this summer

Organizers plan encore of 'Peanuts on Parade'

March 31, 2001

By Karl J. Karlson
St. Paul Pioneer Press

Charlie Brown, the main character of the "Peanuts" comic strip, will be popping up on street corners and neighborhoods in coming months as St. Paul tries to repeat the success of last summer's tribute to native son Charles Schulz.

This year, the summerlong event will be called "Charlie Brown Around Town."

Organizers say it will operate a lot like last summer's "Peanuts on Parade," which proved successful by any measure, drawing thousands of visitors to St. Paul's downtown and neighborhoods and producing publicity for the city around the world.

The city's tribute to the late "Peanuts" cartoonist began last summer, when 101 statues of his character "Snoopy" were decorated by artists and put on display. The event ended in the fall, with the auction of about half of the statues. Proceeds totaled $1.2 million, most of which will go toward a bronze grouping of "Peanuts" characters that will be a permanent tribute to Schulz, who grew up in St. Paul.

"It's a continuation of our homage to Schulz and what he created," says Mayor Norm Coleman. "It's a wonderful thing for the city."

There had been an internal debate among city boosters about the appropriateness of a second statue tribute.

Some felt that the Snoopy tribute was so successful that any second try likely would be less successful and run the risk of appearing to be a failure.

But the prevailing view argued that last summer's event was such a success that there had to be a follow-up.

"If we did nothing, St. Paul would have been disappointed," says Lee Koch, marketing manager for Capital City Partnership, a business group that assisted with last summer's events and is taking a larger role this year.

The goal of the events again is to raise money for the permanent bronze grouping of about 10 of Schulz's characters. The grouping is to be unveiled by December, with a location yet to be selected.

"It was important to continue the momentum created by last summer. We didn't want any dead time before the unveiling of the permanent statue," said Hart Johnson, vice president of TivoliToo, which produces the unpainted statues.

Randi Johnson, his sister and the owner of the company, has been a St. Paul confidante of the Schulz family for several years.

"We wanted to go again this summer to raise enough funds to make the permanent tribute very special," said Megan Ryan of the city's promotion and marketing department.

Of last year's $1.2 million in proceeds, about $320,000 in expenses were paid, with $40,000 going to the St. Paul College of Visual Arts and $40,000 to the Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis, where Schulz took classes and then taught after World War II.

While last year's tribute brought lots of tourist dollars to St. Paul -- $20 million to $25 million, according to an estimate from the Convention and Visitors Bureau -- those involved say its real purpose is to honor Schulz and his work.

"These figures create a love, and love is a good thing. It's almost tangible from these figures of Schulz's creations," Coleman says. "This is going to be another fun summer."

The mayor says he always supported repeating the celebration. The city was waiting, he says, for the formal approval of the Schulz family and the agencies involved in the economic empire that has grown from Schulz's creations.

"We are very appreciative of the support the family has given us and their interest in this," Coleman says.

Schulz died from complications of colon cancer on Feb. 12, 2000, the day before publication of his last new "Peanuts" strip. He was diagnosed with the disease the previous fall and announced his retirement. That meant the end of new strips because Schulz was the only one to draw the cartoon throughout its 50 years.

At its height, the strip appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers worldwide, and reprints of the cartoons are still widely published.

His retirement prompted St. Paul officials to find a way to pay tribute to him, which led to "Peanuts on Parade."

'Peanuts' summer will be repeated

Here's a look at some of the public events set for St. Paul's "Charlie Brown Around Town" summer celebration and salute to cartoonist Charles Schulz. More events will be added throughout the summer.

11:30 a.m. Tuesday: Official kickoff at Harriet Island.

May 1-2: Design open house for sponsors to choose statue designs. Location to be announced.

May 10: Deadline for sponsoring a statue.

May 18-21: Artists "paint-off" to decorate statues. Location to be announced.

June 3: Charlie Brown statues go on display.

September: Statues are gathered for display downtown.

Sept. 15-16: "Blockhead Party" downtown.

Late September: Statues moved to Mall of America in Bloomington.

Sept. 30: Live auction of statues at Mall of America.

To learn more

The Web site for "Charlie Brown Around Town" will be www.ilovesaintpaul.com, where upcoming events and other information will be posted.

The telephone number for information about the event will be (651) 266-8989, the city's Citizen Service Office.

To sponsor a Charlie Brown statue, call (651) 265-4920 or print an application off the Web site. Application deadline is May 10.

The St. Paul Convention and Visitors Bureau will sponsor an information center staffed by volunteers, as it did for last summer's "Peanuts on Parade." To volunteer, call (651) 265-4900.

How many Charlie Browns? Number of statues unknown

Organizers of this summer's "Charlie Brown Around Town" have not revealed how many statues will be part of the new tribute to the late "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles Schulz.

"We don't want it to get out of hand with, say 400," said Hart Johnson, a member of a committee that is overseeing the event.

Last summer, original plans envisioned about 25 Snoopy statues for "Peanuts on Parade," but that quickly turned into 75. There was such demand from those eager to take part that the number was later expanded to 101.

Johnson said sponsorship of a statue this summer will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with an absolute deadline of May 10.

Sponsors who took part in "Peanuts on Parade" are being mailed participation information this week, he said. Again this year, sponsors and statue designs will need approval from the family and United Media, the company that syndicates Schulz's work, to take part.

An unpainted statue will cost $3,600, an increase of $500 over last year. An artist-decorated statue will again cost an extra $1,000, a fee that will go to the artist.

There also will be a "donation" fee this year for sponsors who choose not to donate their Charlie Brown statues for auction in September. The fee will be $4,000 for those who sponsored "Peanuts on Parade" statues and $6,000 for new sponsors. Last year, about half of the "Peanuts on Parade" sponsors opted to keep their Snoopys. The rest were auctioned to raise money for a permanent tribute to Schulz and for scholarships at two area arts schools.

Like last year's statues, the Charlie Browns will be about 5 feet tall and made of polyurethane.

Johnson, vice president of TivoliToo, which will make the unpainted statues, said the design will be more streamlined to avoid some of the wear-and-tear problems that plagued Snoopy statues. Several of last year's creations suffered broken ears and tails from vandalism or over-eager huggers.

Snoopy: A Beagle With Brains Becomes Teachers' Pet

March 24, 2001

By Sarah Boxer
The New York Times

A year after Charles Schulz's death, the click-click of Snoopy's nails can be heard in the halls of academe.

The University Press of Mississippi has recently published a book of conversations with Schulz, edited by M. Thomas Inge, a professor of humanities at Randolph-Macon College. The designer and graphic art historian Chip Kidd is putting together a "modern archeology of 'Peanuts,' " and has already unearthed some rare things, including Schulz's sketch of Ignatz Mouse throwing a brick at Charlie Brown and a strip in which Charlie Brown and Lucy are surrounded by adults. And at the last Modern Language Association meeting a panel of scholars considered the political and aesthetic ramifications of "Peanuts," especially Snoopy. Where does this dog belong? Is he a political conservative, a secret member of the avant-garde, a sentimental beast, a propaganda hound?

"Peanuts" analysis is an old pastime. For the first Italian edition of "Peanuts" Umberto Eco, the semiotician and novelist, wrote a brief pathology of the characters, and in 1964 Robert Short, a minister, analyzed the pastoral side of "Peanuts." Now scholars are taking a more historical approach to the strip.

In a paper at the M.L.A. called "Politicizing the Pooch Snoopy as Ideological Apparatus," Scott F. Stoddart, who teaches English, film and theater at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., traced Snoopy's military career and its ideological subtext. Everyone knows that Snoopy was a World War I flying ace locked in combat with the Red Baron, but what about the timing of his missions?

As Mr. Stoddart pointed out, the first time Snoopy crawled on top of his doghouse and cursed the Red Baron was October 1965. That was when President Lyndon B. Johnson had just escalated the war in Vietnam. And Snoopy's last mission atop his doghouse was in 1972, when President Richard M. Nixon was withdrawing troops from Vietnam. As Mr. Stoddart noted, Snoopy "never fought the Red Baron again." He preferred to "sit in French cafes and flirt with waitresses."

To reveal the meaning of Snoopy's military history, Mr. Stoddart invoked the idea that all contemporary artworks, high and low, are motivated by what the Marxist critic Fredric Jameson called "our deepest fantasies about the nature of social life, both as we live it now and as we feel in our bones it ought rather to be lived."

Schulz fought in World War II and identified himself as a veteran, but he didn't want to be seen as a warmonger, especially in the darkest years of the Vietnam War. (In 1967, he said that the greatest development of the age was finding "that there is nothing glorious about war.") So, Mr. Stoddart said, Schulz preserved "the patriotic pro-war spirit of his own generation in a world decidedly against the escalating horrors of the Vietnam conflict" by portraying Snoopy as a World War I flying ace fighting a far less controversial war.

When the Vietnam war wound down, the flying ace came down off his doghouse. But he did not forget the veterans. In later years, Snoopy paid homage to fallen war heroes. In one strip, he sat near a sign that said "Vet for hire." In another Snoopy posed in front of a picture of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The caption read "To remember."

This view of Snoopy as a surrogate political commentator contrasts sharply with that of the critic Christopher Caldwell, who wrote a scathing article, "Against Snoopy," in the weekly newspaper The New York Press a year ago excoriating Schulz for ruining a once brilliant strip by letting an altogether too warm and fuzzy dog run away with the show.

From the late 1950s to the early 1970s, "Peanuts" had a rich constellation of characters including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, Violet and Frieda. It was, Mr. Caldwell wrote, "in its little kid's way, a society as complete and as dangerous as Balzac's." But "Snoopy was never a full participant in the tangle of relationships that drove 'Peanuts' in its Golden Age," he continued, because he couldn't speak. And eventually that ruined everything, he argued, as the humor changed from verbal to visual.

Snoopy, Mr. Caldwell wrote, "appeals to readers through the many variations Schulz can play on Samuel Johnson's quip 'Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hinder legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.' " Snoopy, Mr. Caldwell wrote, could "dance through an entire four-frame weekly strip" and conclude with the punch line, "I'm outrageously happy in my stupidity."

Mr. Caldwell's scorn for Snoopy is not so different from that of some underground comic artists who have derided "Peanuts" for its sweetness and cuteness. They saw Schulz as the "epitome of a kinder-gentler sort of cartooning," said Charles Hatfield, who teaches children's literature at the University of Connecticut. And from underground comic artists, that is not a compliment.

Take Harvey Pekar, whose "American Splendor" is based on his own life stories and illustrated with the gritty pictures of R. Crumb and Joe Sacco. Pekar faults Schulz for trivializing his insights into human nature by injecting serious problems "into cute little kids who are drawn extremely simply." For angst, Mr. Pekar favors pictorial realism.

But could it be that the underground comic artists have bitten the hand that fed them? In a paper titled "Good Grief! `Peanuts' and the Underground Comix Aesthetic," Mr. Hatfield suggested that "Peanuts" in many ways presaged the underground comics. Mr. Crumb's "gleeful reappropriation of `funny animal' characters for adult and subversive ends" (think of Fritz the Cat) owes a debt to Schulz's "Peanuts," or rather to Snoopy, Mr. Hatfield said, and the bitterness of underground comics echoes Schulz's concern with "life's constant disappointments."

Even the obsessiveness of underground comic artists is reminiscent of the working methods of Schulz, who "thrived on the routine of the strip," Mr. Hatfield said. Schulz's obsessiveness about his strip, he said, seemed to have a defensive purpose. His meticulousness was "the last line of defense against the very issues raised in the work," anxiety, dread and emptiness.

These themes become especially obvious in the parodies of "Peanuts." Gene Kannenberg, an English professor at the University of Connecticut, suggested in his M.L.A. paper "Chips Off the Ol' Blockhead Evidence of Influence in `Peanuts' Parodies" that while many of the parodies are overtly critical of the strip, they also unveil some of its darker, hidden themes.

Take R. Sikoryak's comic parody, "Good Ol' Gregor Brown," which tells the story of Kafka's "Metamorphosis" with "Peanuts" characters. Gregor Brown wakes up one day to find that he has become a giant bug. It ends with Lucy's exclamation "Gregor, you blockhead!!"

Mr. Kannenberg suggested that this parody, while jarring, is not terribly far from "Peanuts" itself. After all, he said, "in one 1970's-era `Peanuts' sequence, Charlie Brown hallucinates that the sun has turned into a giant baseball." In another, his head becomes a baseball with stitching. Mr. Kannenberg said that the parody magnifies the meaning of "Peanuts" by exaggerating the theme of dread already there.

Mr. Kannenberg also considered "Abstract Thought Is a Warm Puppy," Art Spiegelman's parody in The New Yorker, which mimicked the style and situations of "Peanuts" but gave them a morbid spin. Charlie Brown ran to kick the football held by Lucy, but instead kicked "the bucket" held by the Grim Reaper. Since Schulz had been ill for months and died right after this parody ran, it carried a sting. But it was also an homage, Mr. Kannenberg said, to Schulz the existential philosopher.

But of course "Peanuts" is not philosophy; it's a comic strip. The big question, as Mr. Spiegelman put it, is "How did `Peanuts' consistently depict genuine pain and loss and still keep everything so warm and fuzzy?" Scholars beware the answer lies inside Snoopy's doghouse.

Will he be the next Schulz?

Peanuts creator leaves behind an industry without a father figure

March 7, 2001

By Dan Brown
The National Post

A year after the death of Charles Schulz, the artists and writers who make up the newspaper comic industry find themselves at a loss.

hen the creator of the long-running Peanuts strip succumbed to colon cancer last February, his passing left something of a vacuum. In the months since, no other character has emerged to take the place of Charlie Brown in the hearts of readers; no cartoonist has assumed Schulz's mantle as the guru of the comics page.

To make the situation even more challenging, Schulz's inheritors are without their former spiritual leader at a time of great change. Comic strips -- like the ones that appear on Page B8 of today's National Post -- have been a hallmark of daily newspapers for decades, but modern-day cartoonists struggle to make their work seem relevant.

A radical technological change is also taking place. The Internet is forever altering the way that cartoon fans read comic strips and relate to their favourite characters. Or maybe it isn't. No one really knows.

"I think we are at a crossroads, but I think it's the latest in a series of crossroads because the comics page is always changing," notes Chris Browne, the cartoonist who illustrates Hagar the Horrible.

In addition, the men who once seemed poised to take on the guiding-light role that Schulz played, Gary Larson and Bill Watterson, both retired in the last decade. Larson drew his final Far Side panel in 1995, and Watterson penned the last instalment of Calvin and Hobbes the following year.

Industry insiders say plenty of new strips show promise, although there hasn't been a real breakout strip since Scott Adams launched Dilbert in 1989. Many point to Patrick McDonnell's Mutts (which first appeared in newspapers in 1994) and Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy (which made its debut in 1999) as the most likely candidates to catch fire with the public in the near future.

"I think there's some good strips out there and I think they will develop to be great strips," McDonnell says. "I don't think we're at the lowest point, and I think there's definitely room for us to reach another level."

Regardless of whether it's Mutts or another strip that supplants Peanuts as the most popular attraction on the comics page, the medium is changing.

Perhaps the most noticeable change is that comics are becoming more mature. Browne has approached different syndicates (the companies that distribute comics to newspapers) in recent years with ideas for new strips and been told the same thing "'Give us something edgy, something that has a little teeth, a little nastiness to it.'"

It's also readers who are demanding an adult tone. Tom Wilson Jr., who draws Ziggy, says he gets more feedback when he fills his panels with some kind of philosophical insight. "My impression is that people are looking for something a little more substantive than just a gag a day," he says.

In response, some cartoonists are broaching topics that used to be considered beyond the scope of the medium. Says Tom Batiuk "I made the choice that I want my work to be something that's viable, something that I can relate to. So I had my characters grow up and I'm writing in a more grown-up style than I did before."

Batiuk writes the strip Crankshaft and handles both the writing and drawing duties on Funky Winkerbean. In the former, he has dealt with Alzheimer's disease; in the latter, he has tackled breast cancer and teen suicide. The main character in Funky Winkerbean, Funky himself, is an alcoholic.

But it isn't always easy to be topical -- many readers still expect the comics page to be nothing more than a source of gentle humour. "There is a prevailing misunderstanding that comic strips are for children," observes Lucy Shelton Caswell, the curator of the Ohio State University's Cartoon Research Library in Columbus, Ohio.

Adams says he risks running afoul of newspaper editors when he tries to show things like an anal cleft -- a "butt crack" -- in his strip "I know in advance I can't put that in the newspaper 'cause it'll just be this huge problem."

The other major pressure on Adams and his peers is the stress of having to be popular right away. When Schulz started Peanuts in 1950, it was carried by only seven newspapers; a typical launch nowadays is at least 50. Schulz took a number of years to find an audience and develop the characters we now recognize, a luxury today's cartoonists don't have.

Rick Stromoski, the first vice-president of the National Cartoonists Society, says a syndicate can cancel a floundering strip within six months if it doesn't catch on "So you have to find a niche audience really quickly."

"Right now, I don't think they let things gestate long enough, that's for sure," echoes Mark O'Hare, the creator of Citizen Dog.

Even worse, there are far more strips competing for space in far fewer newspapers. In theory, the cumulative impact of Schulz's death and the retirements of Larson and Watterson should be a positive one, because their absences open up slots for up-and-comers.

Because space in the newspaper is so tight, editors reduce comic strips and run them at a much smaller size than they did decades ago. According to people like Robert C. Harvey, author of The Art of the Funnies, this has the effect of driving talent away from the business because it rewards artists who draw simply.

"In some cases, I'm sure some very good artists never went into comics in the first place because they just felt the size was too limiting," adds Dave Astor, senior editor of Editor & Publisher magazine.

The most profound change, however, is yet to come. As newspapers attempt to become an Internet as well as a print medium, comic strips will have to mutate in response.

No one knows what the final product will look like (perhaps a hybrid of television animation and a traditional comic strip), but the potential impact is so great that many in the field see this period as comparable to other eras when landmark technological shifts took place, as when radio ceded its place in the popular imagination to television.

"It'll just change the landscape," Adams says of the Internet. The Dilbert creator predicts that, in order for the computer revolution to kick into high gear, one brave cartoonist is going to have to show the rest of the industry how to make cyberspace financially viable "Whoever does it first is probably going to lose their shirt."

"To compete, I think eventually everybody's going to have to have a killer Web site," says Dan Piraro, the creator of Bizarro.

Lynn Johnston, the Canadian cartoonist who writes and illustrates For Better or For Worse, can foresee a time when she will devote all of her energies to the Internet. Now 53 years old, she plans to retire her strip when she turns 60 to become a full-time cyber cartoonist. "I wish I was 25 years younger, I really do, 'cause there's so much I'm going to miss. I'm going to croak too soon," she says.

Fans gather for unveiling of SR tribute to Schulz

March 4, 2001

By Miriam Silver
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Surrounded by hundreds of fans, some from as far away as Paris and Osaka, a bronze sculpture honoring Charles Schulz was unveiled Saturday in Railroad Square, a simply smiling Charlie Brown with his arm on the back of his beloved beagle Snoopy.

"I am hoping you and many generations will look at this statue and smile, because that's what it's all about," Santa Rosa Councilwoman Janet Condron said.

The sculpture, a $270,00 project commissioned by the city, the Cultural Arts Council of Sonoma County and the Sonoma County Community Foundation, is a 4-foot-high replica of the famous cartoon characters drawn by Schulz for 50 years.

They stand on top of stone and are surrounded by an octagonal fence with eight bronze discs depicting other scenes and characters from the strip. A plaque reads "In celebration of the life and works of Charles M. Schulz, from the people of Santa Rosa and his fans across the world."

Plans for the outdoor statue were under way in 1998, more than a year before the world-famous Santa Rosa cartoonist known as "Sparky" became ill. He had declined to have a public sculpture of himself, but approved of one of the "Peanuts" gang.

"Sparky wanted people to feel happy, and I think everyone who will see the sculpture will feel happy," said his widow, Jean Schulz.

The sculpture was created by Stan Pawlowski, a Long Beach artist who became friends with Schulz after being licensed to make "Peanuts" characters.

At the dedication ceremony -- attended by city dignitaries and other Schulz family members -- Pawlowski remembered his late mother and the man for whom he placed a rose in Snoopy's paw.

"If there was anything that could make this day better (it would be) that my dear friend Sparky could be here and see that we all came to honor him, and that my mother could be here to join this joyous celebration," Pawlowski said.

After the brief ceremony, people took pictures of themselves and their kids next to the statue and got autographs from the various Schulz family members.

Fans and well-wishers came from all over the country for the dedication, which included local actor Eric Cook's exuberant rendition "Suppertime," Snoopy's song from "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown."

Many of those fans were members of the Peanuts Collectors Club and had been here before, at annual Beaglefests or to Schulz's Redwood Empire Ice Arena. Some were carrying pictures taken with the famous cartoonist.

Almost everybody donned Peanuts-ware -- jewelry, T-shirts, jackets or hats bearing a Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy or other characters from the comic strip that was known around the world and translated into many languages.

Among them was Tami Aker, a Minneapolis police sergeant who sports a four-inch tattoo on her left leg of Snoopy hugging Woodstock with two red hearts above their heads.

"The happiness that Snoopy represents is part of what we all want to be," Aker said. "He's just happy. There's nothing negative or sad."

Kumiko Masuoka, a secretary at a spice company in Osaka, Japan, had a copy of her picture with Schulz taped to her camera.

When Schulz became ill last year, Masuoka made for him a traditional origami paper folding piece known as A Thousand Cranes. For awhile, it hung in the Snoopy gift shop.

"I like Snoopy so much because he's very human and has human qualities," said Masuoka, who flew in for the dedication.

Mathew Jacobs of Santa Rosa, who is 11, credits the cartoon with getting him to read.

"I hated to read, but I started to read his comics and then I went on to harder comics and then I learned to read books," he said proudly. "I am a big Snoopy fan."

More than 30 donors received bronze maquettes, miniature copies of the sculpture, for making $10,000 donations to the project.

One of those donors was Shinsuku Kuzuya of Los Angeles, a Japanese native who grew up reading Peanuts and spent much of the last year translating newspaper articles on Schulz for a Japanese Web site.

"I like the sense of humor and the literary depth," he said. "It took me about 20 years to relate to the comic. As a teen, I just read it."

Happiness is...

Railroad Square sculpture a tribute to Schulz, memories

March 3, 2001

The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Happiness is opening the Sunday paper ... and seeing Lucy holding out a football to Charlie Brown.

Happiness is dancing the hokey-pokey at your eighth birthday party ... and not falling down.

Happiness is taking a young child and a 90-year old grandmother to the holiday ice show ... and seeing the same amazed expression on both of their faces.

Happiness is burning the roof of your mouth with hot chocolate at the Warm Puppy ... and cooling it off with extra whipped cream.

Happiness is meeting a world famous cartoonist at a local coffee shop ... and watching him draw a picture of Snoopy on your napkin.

Happiness is seeing the unveiling of a bronze sculpture of Charlie Brown and Snoopy in Railroad Square Depot Park ... and eating cookies and drinking root beer afterwards.

Thank you, Charles Schulz, for all the memories you've given to this community.

The public is invited to the unveiling at 11 a.m. today at Railroad Square's Depot Park of the Peanuts sculpture. Railroad Square merchants will serve chocolate chip cookies and rootbeer until 5 p.m.

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