Sopwith Camel

News Clippings
Press Releases

This vintage Sopwith Camel is part of the permanent collection at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, in McMinnville, Oregon

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.

Snoopy Flies in for a Visit to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

New exhibit Opens Jan. 30 in McMinnville, Oregon

January 31, 2008

Evergreen press release

In the 1950s, when comics were dominated by action and adventure, slapstick and gags, Minnesota cartoonist Charles M. Schulz dared to confront a lifelong sense of alienation and insecurity by drawing the real feelings of his life and times. His Peanuts characters insights on life's struggles and disappointment have resonated with readers for more than 50 years. Snoopy (who was based on Schulz's childhood black-and-white dog, Spike) possesses a unique view of the world that stands out to readers, even in the quirky Peanuts cast.

The traveling exhibit, Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace, opening on January 30, 2008, at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, presents Charles M. Schulz's lovable beagle, Snoopy, as his alter ego, the Flying Ace. The exhibit showcases 40 of Snoopy's most exciting adventures in his transformed doghouse -- now a Sopwith Camel airplane -- from the time he faced a deadly bout of influenza to sparring with the Flying Ace's archenemy, the Red Baron. Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace is toured by ExhibitsUSA, the national touring division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a non-profit regional arts organization based in Kansas City, Missouri.

Schulz served as a sergeant in the Army and had always wanted to draw adventure comic strips but had been told to stick with what he did best -- funny kids. However, after 15 years as a cartoonist, on Sun., Oct. 10, 1965, he finally had the opportunity to create his hero: Snoopy, the World War I Flying Ace. Visitors to this exhibit can follow Snoopy on his imaginary adventures through the skies of Europe. Forty digital prints from the original drawings done by Schulz are on display, along with accompanying photographs of the artist.

The Snoopy exhibit will be on display until March 10. Children's activities will be featured on Saturdays. See the museum Web site for more information. The first children's cartoon activity is Feb. 2. Regular visitor admission prices are required to view the exhibit.

Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace is organized by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center and toured by ExhibitsUSA. The purpose of ExhibitsUSA is to create access to an array of arts and humanities exhibitions, nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1972. For more information on ExhibitsUSA please refer to:

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is best known as the home of the world's largest wooden airplane, the Spruce Goose, SR-71 Blackbird, the Titan II SLV Missile and the Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat. In addition, there are more than 80 historic aircraft and exhibits on display, along with artwork, traveling displays, the Spruce Goose Cafe, the Rotors, Wings & Things store and Oregon's largest 3D IMAX Theater. A world-class Space Museum is scheduled to open June 2008.

The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museums hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m, daily except when it is closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Easter. The IMAX Theater hours vary and can be found on the Web site. The Museum campus is located at 500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, across the highway from the McMinnville Airport and about three miles southeast of McMinnville, Ore., on Highway 18. Regular visitor admission is required. Call (503) 434-4180 for more information, and visit

From Snoopy to trains, collectors are passionate about their favorite things

January 12, 2008

By Judith W. Winne
The Courier-Post [New Jersey]

Cheryl Reineck of Pennsauken collects all things Snoopy.

In her Snoopitorium, a spare bedroom stuffed to the rafters, she has Snoopy Elvis, Snoopy the hippie, Snoopy with Barbie, Snoopy on velvet, Snoopy as Joe Cool, Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace.

There are ornamental pins, bed sheets, chair, curtains, lamps, a cookie jar, an ice-cone maker, tissues, games, books, blankets, pajamas, slipper socks, galoshes, a fishing pole, life preservers and enough figurines and stuffed animals to fill a dozen curio cabinets.

"I just always liked Snoopy," says the 52-year-old Reineck, by way of explanation. "I like his silly laugh, the funny things he does."

Happiness is a warm puppy -- and a collection tailored to one person's favorites.

By its nature, collecting is idiosyncratic. One man's treasure is another fellow's junk.

It seems nothing is too odd to collect. How odd? The Web site,, takes note of folks who collect barbed wire, swizzle sticks, airsickness bags, cheese labels, bug sprayers and decorated jelly jar glasses.

In one Internet forum on hobbies, a poster noted that people collect what attracts them, even when that object seems uninteresting to others. The poster's mom hoarded maybe 1,000 pewter animals, and a grandmother crowded nearly every windowsill with china figurines.

So what's worthy of collecting? Not surprisingly, the very same poster cited his or her own collection -- an assemblage of cut gems.

Collectibles tend to be newer items, antiques older -- typically a century old. Ebay lists nearly four dozen categories under the heading of collectible -- and hundreds of subcategories.

When it comes to popularity, some items fade. Can anyone say, Cabbage Patch dolls?

Kathy DiGirolamo of Medford collects faux frogs. The 57-year-old Medford woman says it all began a quarter-century ago. She was a single mom, out for an evening at a singles event, and a friend remarked that the men were all frogs.

A collection was born. DiGirolamo now has so much frog-abilia, including frog lawn ornaments and a frog tattoo on her right shoulder blade, she offers this advice to others thinking about starting a collection: "Dont," she says. "It never ends." 

Angelic Suarez of Clementon finds room for her Winnie the Pooh collection by leaving much of the stuff in her old bedroom at her parents' Camden home.

She has Winnie emblazoned on everything from jewelry to baby shoes. For the 26-year-old, the interest in the honey-loving bear began in 1999 on a senior class trip to Disney World. As for why she continues to collect Winnie, Suarez expresses the uncertainty of some other collectors.

"I dont know," she says. "'Cause he's real cute." It started off with a teddy bear.

Mary Ellen Mauro of Washington Township has 50 nativity sets. She especially treasures those from foreign lands.

"To me, it's representative of the universality of the message of the Christmas story, that Jesus came for all of us," says the 56-year-old.

Her collection is a trip around the globe, with nativity sets from the Philippines to France.

"They are made from soapstone, ceramics, wood, corn husks, gourds, crystal, glass, cement, silver, cloth and seed pods," Mauro says. "The figures range in size from 1.5 centimeters to 20 inches, although most are less than 6 inches."

Richard Inzana of Haddon Township is putting together a space in his basement for his trains, including some 1945-era Lionel O-gauge trains.

His wife, Christine, says the trains are something their children will enjoy.

"My son, Ryan, who will be 8 in March, cant wait for Dad to finish the train room,"  Christine Inzana wrote in an e-mail."I have a feeling that this will be an ongoing process but I am glad he is able to share his pastime with our children."

More uncommon than trains are Jeffrey Auchter's pamphlets.

"I (voraciously) collect housing subdivision brochures," Auchter wrote in a recent e-mail. Although he lives in South Florida, Auchter grew up in South Jersey.  "Over the last 40 years, I have amassed between 10 and 15,000 pieces," he wrote. "The oldest piece is from the 1890s, and the collection includes the entire United States as well as several hundred brochures from foreign countries."

He is especially interested in tract housing in South Jersey, and travels back here regularly to add to this collection.

For Pennsauken's Reineck, Snoopy is one cool dude -- a confident critter on four legs, a counterpoint to the timid Charlie Brown.

Among her funnier items is one she bought through QVC, the shopping channel. When you press Snoopy's belly, his teeth are bared in a devilish, almost demonic, grin.

Reineck figures she has collected thousands of Snoopy items (she also has other members of the Peanuts gang, especially Woodstock), and no, she isn't getting rid of any.

And her favorite? It's like asking a mother to name her favorite child.

"It's kinda hard to say," says Reineck, "because I like everything."

George Winston will tickle ivories in Everett

January 11, 2008

By Andy Rathbun
The Herald [Everett, Washington]

George Winston, the multi-platinum pianist, has long drawn inspiration from the music of New Orleans.

In 1991, he played a show in New York City, and recommended the albums of Louisiana keyboardists James Booker, Dr. John and Professor Longhair to the audience.

So when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city, he wanted to help. He pledged all of his proceeds from "Gulf Coast Blues & Impressions," his 2006 album, to relief efforts, raising more than $50,000 to date.

"I'm not a carpenter, so I figured this was the best way I could contribute," he said. "It all helps."

Winston, a Santa Cruz, California-based pianist who has sold more than 7 million albums, will put on a show Saturday night at Everett Theater, and may mix in some of his New Orleans-inspired concoctions with better-known fare from hit albums like "December" and "Winter Into Spring."

Given Winston's diverse tastes, he has a fairly deep collection of songs to draw from. Along with his own contemporary piano pieces, he plays 1950s and 1960s pop, at times trotting out a Beatles or Sam Cooke cover. He's even recorded an album of Doors songs, "Night Divides the Day."

"Every song I play is my favorite song, or I just wouldn't be playing it," Winston said. "There's so much great music."

During a telephone interview in late December, Winston sounded like a colorful and happy fellow, not shying away from the occasional digression.

For instance, he was asked how his live show has changed since he began playing almost 30 years ago. He said he now feels more accomplished behind the keys, then mentioned the difference between jazz and R&B, and concluded that people can't split up genres of music any better than they can pick apart a rainbow.

"Is there really a blue and a green. Or is it just this thing?" he asked.

Rainbow metaphors might not surprise fans; his music is known for a New Age bent. And while many of his albums draw inspiration from nature, he plans to return to the world of Charlie Brown -- of Vince Guaraldi and Charles Schulz -- for his next release, a follow-up to "Linus & Lucy: The Music of Vince Guaraldi."

"There are certain teams in history: Lennon and McCartney, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen," Winston said. "Vince Guaraldi and Charles Schulz are certainly one of them. They complemented each other."

Winston still recalls watching the Peanuts Christmas special, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," in 1965, when it first aired. The next day, he went to the store to buy Guaraldi's soundtrack. Decades later, in 1988, Winston would walk in his hero's footsteps, recording the soundtrack to "This Is America, Charlie Brown: The Birth of the Constitution."

Winston plans to split his upcoming album about 60-40 between Peanuts-inspired songs and other Guaraldi compositions. Tentatively titled "Love Will Come," the album may come out this year or in 2009 ... whenever it's ready.

"The tomatoes are ripe when they're ripe," he said.

He could celebrate a personal milestone with the release; he turns 60 in 2009.

Despite his age, he has no plans to slow down. He still plays as many as 120 shows a year, he said.

"I'm really about 19 in my mind," Winston said. "It took 40 years to get from 18 to 19. So it's like, all right, let's get to it."

A city with some ups and downs

January 8, 2008

By Steve Harvey
The Los Angeles Times

In his entertaining biography, "Schulz and Peanuts," David Michaelis mentions that Minnesota-born Charles Schulz briefly lived in Needles, California, as a boy while a relative recuperated from a lung ailment.

And I recalled how I once dragged Schulz into a controversy involving the Colorado River desert town and a scruffy bird named Woodstock.

In a March 1981 Peanuts strip, around the time the swallows were returning to San Juan Capistrano, Schulz drew Woodstock returning to Needles: "Elevation 550 feet."

However, a reader wrote The Times to say that the city sign actually put the elevation at 484 feet. I was assigned to look into it, big-time investigative writer that I was.

I contacted Schulz, who did not find the matter funny.

"I can assure you I don't make up facts," he said. "As I recall, I took the figure from some information the Chamber of Commerce sent me a few years ago."

Adding to the confusion, the chamber told me that the elevation was actually 482 feet.

"Well, what's a couple of feet?" a spokesman said.

The other day I phoned a library in Needles, to see if the issue had been resolved.

A librarian told me the elevation is exactly 450 feet. Good grief.

Families Rule at Cedar Point!

Planet Snoopy Highlights New Attractions for 2008 Season

December 2007

Cedar Point Publicity

SANDUSKY, Ohio -- Family fun will be out of this world at Cedar Point amusement park/resort in Sandusky, Ohio, when Planet Snoopy debuts this summer as the park's newest children's area. Featuring a Peanuts-themed environment, Planet Snoopy will spin into orbit at the former Peanuts Playground.

Planet Snoopy will feature seven rides, including a mini-tea cup-style ride, miniature train, 4 x 4 trucks, a bouncing tower, spinning balloons, rocket ships and a crazy sub ride. Planet Snoopy will also feature games, themed decor showcasing Snoopy's worldly travels and special live appearances by the Peanuts characters. Planet Snoopy's 1.25 acres will also feature a family center with changing stations and private areas to feed children in a quiet atmosphere.

"This is the tenth year of Snoopy here at Cedar Point and we're extremely excited to offer our fourth children's area for those who aren't yet ready to ride the park's bigger rides and coasters," said John Hildebrandt, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. "We're known around the world for our roller coasters -- but we're also a destination for families looking for a wide range of thrills. Planet Snoopy will be a great start for the young thrill-seeker this summer." 

In addition to the attractions at Planet Snoopy, a new restaurant will satisfy the rumble in the tummy. Kids will be the boss at a new themed restaurant, which will feature a children-only menu. Parents don't need to worry -- there's a small,adult-only section on the menu just for them! The interior of the new restaurant will cater to the ultimate Peanuts fan with graphics from the world-famous comic strip.

The terrestrial fun extends beyond Planet Snoopy next season with four new live shows. Snoopy's Big Bow Wow On Ice will skate into the Good Time Theatre. Snoopy, along with 14 world-class skaters, will be featured in a brand-new ice skating extravaganza with amazing skating routines, familiar music and the fun and excitement of a summer party.

Next to Planet Snoopy, All Wheels Extreme is set to wow guests young and old in the former aquatic stadium. Skilled stunt bikers, skateboarders and rollerbladers will perform flips, tricks and unbelievable stunts in this high-energy BMX-style show.

In the Centennial Theatre, Signed, Sealed, Delivered will feature live singers and dancers in a spectacular stage show celebrating music of the 1950s and '60s, while the Red Garter Saloon will showcase an all-new musical revue.

In addition to the new attractions, a two-year refurbishment at the Sandcastle Suites Hotel will be completed by this summer. The $3 million in renovations include an improved lobby and registration area, upgraded suites and rest rooms and newly decorated hallways. Last summer, the exterior of Sandcastle Suites was upgraded.

Located on the tip of the Cedar Point Peninsula, Sandcastle Suites has 187 guest suites, including three Grand Vista Suites that include an indoor Jacuzzi and a wraparound deck or patio. The hotel also includes an outdoor pool and whirlpool spa, tennis courts, a romantic gazebo, scenic boardwalk and shuttle service to the gates of the park.

Including Planet Snoopy, the park will spend approximately $5.2 million in capital improvements for the 2008 season.

Cedar Point will open for its 139th summer on Saturday, May 10. For a complete operating calendar and more information on whats new for 2008, log on to or call (419) 627-2350.

Playing for Peanuts

Charlie Brown inspired David Benoit to pursue jazz, and he's still saying thanks

December 7, 2007

By Marijke Rowland
The Modesto Bee [California]

Charlie Brown and Snoopy and that sad little tree have become almost as much a part of the holidays as that jolly old elf and all those reindeer.

And equally ingrained in our collective consciousness is the elegant jazz score that accompanies the Peanuts gang as it celebrates the season in the classic animated Christmas special. Today, no jazz artist embodies that spirit more than David Benoit.

The contemporary jazz pianist, composer and five-time Grammy nominee created A Charlie Brown Christmas, a tribute show to the beloved Peanuts holiday special created by Charles M. Schulz and composer Vince Guaraldi. He brings the Christmas show to the State Theatre tonight.

Born in Bakersfield and raised in Los Angeles, the 54-year-old musician was inspired to go into jazz piano by the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas TV show. He saw it as a boy, and it has stayed with him since.

"It was such a landmark thing back in the '60s to use jazz in animation," Benoit said from his Palos Verdes home. "I remember I was 10 years old when it came out. It was a lot of the reason I became a jazz pianist. It captured a spirit; It's just genius."

He began studying music a couple years later. His first piano teacher had a background in jazz, so, unlike most pianists, he learned jazz before he learned classical music. With a father who was a jazz guitarist, the music always was in the house and Benoit said he was drawn to its laid-back mood.

"Jazz was the weekend music, the music to relax to and have a cocktail to," he said. "Classical was the weekday music, my mother's music. The music we did our homework to."

Five Grammy nominations later, Benoit is working on his latest studio album. The release, called Heroes, will feature Benoit's take on a collection of standards by an eclectic array of his musical favorites, from The Beatles to Elton John, The Doors to Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck.

"Those are my influences," he said. "That is probably why I got into contemporary jazz -- I was very into popular music and groove-oriented jazz."

He said the CD should be out in the spring.

Benoit said contemporary jazz today is getting more and more fragmented. The genre has gone from the mainstream in the 1950s to a segmented niche that breaks down even further into jazz fusion, smooth jazz, traditional jazz and so on.

"What is disappointing to me is seeing a bitterness in some of the camps. It's such a small percentage of the market now," he said. "It's supposed to be music that makes you feel good and gives you a chill. It's about individual expression. I hope that is what the younger players think about and what is most important." 

From seeing the cartoon on TV to writing its music, Benoit's career has come full circle as he became the official composer for the Peanuts shows, creating the music for 2003's I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown, 2000's It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown and 1992's It's Christmastime Again Charlie Brown, among others.

Benoit also had the opportunity to meet his inspiration, Peanuts creator Schulz, a few years before his death in 2000. He said being associated with the Charlie Brown name is an honor.

"He was a wonderful man," Benoit said. "I am best friends with the producer who brought me into (Peanuts). It's that kind of organization. The people are unlike the kind of people you normally meet in television and show business. And it all started with Charles Schulz ... the most down-to-earth, unassuming person."

Benoit's A Charlie Brown Christmas show began big, first with an orchestra and video presentations and then with Al Jarreau and Melissa Manchester. But now he has taken the concert back to its basics, playing with his piano trio and a saxophonist.

"I think that show got a little far away from the innocence of Charlie Brown," he said. "I decided to do something very simple and pay tribute to the music of Charlie Brown."

As has become his tradition on this Christmas tour, Benoit will bring out an area children's choir to sing with him on the show's final song, "Christmastime is Here."

"(Using the children's choir) is a marvelous experience. There's not a dry eye in the house," he said.

Opening the show will be Tracy singer/songwriter Tara Tinsley.

Has Snoopy lost his cool?

Snoopy and the gang are still big sellers, but to the younger generation, Peanuts is in danger of getting stale.

October 29, 2007

By Neal Justin
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Emily and Hanna Devaney, ages 10 and 8, are two of Crossroads Elementary School's most dedicated history buffs. While the St. Paul students love the Cheetah Girls, Hannah Montana and Harry Potter, they're also obsessed with good ol' Charlie Brown.

Put the emphasis on ol'.

The Peanuts crew was born in 1950, which means Linus Van Pelt soon will be trading in his security blanket for Social Security. But the characters are still active stars in today's pop culture scene. Around 2,400 newspapers still carry the strip, even though it's been in reruns since Charles Schulz's death in 2000. That's a drop of just 200 subscribers from its peak.

"We considered dropping Peanuts after Schulz died, but we asked our readers if they wanted us to continue running the old strips" said Peter Bhatia, executive editor of the Oregonian in Portland. "The answer was yes, and we still are running them."

ABC still airs seven animated Peanuts specials a year, and Warner Bros. just bought the DVD rights for the dozens of related cartoons with re-mastered re-releases starting in January. During New York's Fashion Week in September, top designers showed off outfits inspired by their favorite Peanuts characters. At Target, the Champ Snoopy bedding for cribs is one of the top sellers in its category. In 2005 Urban Outfitters sold out its line of pathetic Christmas trees.

But these success stories have more to do with adult interests than with what kids want. For them, Snoopy is about as relevant as Rin Tin Tin.

It doesnt help that Camp Snoopy at the Mall of America was replaced early last year by Nickelodeon characters or that the market is now flooded with cable hotshots like Diego and Jimmy Neutron. A new video game aimed at the younger generation, It's the Big Game, Charlie Brown, recently ranked 10,328th in sales at At Target, sales of Charlie Brown titles have fallen behind Dora the Explorer and Elmo.

"A generation change is happening here," said Dan Gonsior, co-owner of the Minneapolis clothing store Uber Baby and the father of a 4-year-old boy. "Our little guy isn't exposed to Snoopy and Charlie Brown. For him, it's SpongeBob and Jimmy Neutron. There's a huge swing."

Crossroads' main hallway features a replica of Snoopy's doghouse, a nod to the fact that Schulz grew up in St. Paul. But the school library contains none of his books. In Hanna's third-grade class, only two of the 27 students have ever heard of the cartoonist.

Connecting generations

"Kids have so many choices now that Charlie Brown is getting pushed off to the side," said the girls' mother, Kathleen Devaney, a paraprofessional at the school, who sometimes tells her students that she's having a Charlie Brown kind of day and gets only blank faces in return.

The 20th century's favorite blockhead still has a prominent place in the Devaney household. During a recent evening, the family related their favorite  Peanuts moments -- Snoopy pretending to be a python, Marci struggling to boil eggs, Peppermint Patty struggling to finish a book report -- as Hanna did her version of Snoopy's happy dance across the living room.

If nothing else, the nostalgia trip is a way for the girls to connect with their parents.

Every holiday, the Devaneys watch the related Peanuts special three times before opening presents or sitting down for Easter brunch, often with the extended family crowded around the TV set. On a recent weekend, 17 of them -- including the grandparents and a 5-year-old cousin, watched the video, It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, which inspired Mom to reminisce with her siblings about how they used to call each other blockhead and how, on more than one occasion, she'd pull the football away from her brother.

"Because the adults are watching it, the kids are more drawn to it," said their father, Sean Devaney, a senior lab technician at H.B. Fuller. "If they were watching by themselves, theyd get bored pretty quickly."

Kathleen, who keeps a Charlie Brown doll above her dresser, hopes to expand the fan club later this year by introducing third-graders to Peanuts books through her after-school reading program.

"Some people might not think kids should be learning by reading comic books, but you've got to offer them a wide variety of material," she said. "You've got to find ways to introduce them to reading."

If Peanuts really wants to win over new fans, maybe Charlie Brown should turn away from the red-haired girl and start mooning over Dora the Explorer. It'd be a match made in merchandise heaven.

MetLife Blimp Program Celebrates 20 Years Since Maiden Voyage

October 25, 2007

Business Wire [New York]

MetLife Inc. will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the MetLife blimp program on October 27, 2007. The blimp program, a major part of MetLife's brand marketing mix consists of two blimps, Snoopy One and Snoopy Two, as well as a celebratory blimp, Snoopy Three. The blimps, which are the most recognized blimps in the United States, according to a MetLife advertising awareness study, provide aerial television coverage for sporting, news, and special events.

"We are excited to celebrate the MetLife blimp program and the maiden voyage of the first MetLife airship," said Beth Hirschhorn, senior vice president, Global Brand & Marketing Services, MetLife. "The iconic MetLife blimps provide an exciting way for us to promote our company to diverse audiences as well as provide a unique perspective and experience for viewers from high above."

The celebratory blimp, Snoopy Three, was added to the MetLife airship fleet for three months beginning in August of 2007, to handle an extended blimp schedule due to an increase in activity in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the MetLife blimp program. Along with Snoopy One and Snoopy Two, Snoopy Three provided aerial coverage of NFL games and special events across the U.S. Snoopy Three is an A-150+ model blimp with a gondola that can accommodate the pilot plus nine passengers. The blimp is decaled with artwork in honor of the MetLife blimp program's anniversary, which includes the slogan, Celebrating 20 Years of the MetLife Blimp.

Snoopy One and Snoopy Two are both emblazoned with MetLife's "if" brand advertising campaign artwork. The campaign speaks to the possibilities and uncertainties we face throughout our lives -- in other words, the ifs in life -- and speaks directly to MetLife's ability to help consumers create their own personal safety net with guarantees to secure their future. Snoopy One and Snoopy Two are A-60+ models with a passenger capacity of three passengers plus one pilot. The structure of the airships is designed to cover golf and other sporting events, which require them to be nimble and quiet.

Annually, the MetLife blimps provide aerial coverage of approximately 60 events for networks including NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, TGC and TNT. Most recently, the blimps have captured television shots of the US Open, the PGA Championship, the PGA TOUR Playoffs for the FedExCup and NFL games across the country. Photos taken from the MetLife blimps have appeared in print publications including New York Times, Sports Illustrated and Golf World. The airships have also been featured in shows such as Secrets of New York, HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel and in an ABC World News webcast feature.

The MetLife blimps have also supported a variety of MetLife events with special flyovers for clients and employees. Since September 2007, in celebration of the MetLife blimp program's 20-year anniversary, more than 4,000 MetLife employees and clients have been given the opportunity to see the blimps up close and talk with the pilots.

Funny bones

October 21, 2007

The News-Observer [North Carolina]

The Complete Peanuts, 1965-1966
By Charles M. Schulz
Designed by Seth
Fantagraphics, $28.95, 326 pages

One of the benefits of reading David Michaelis' Schulz and Peanuts is that it gives classic Peanuts comics an extra level of meaning -- above and beyond the approximately 11 levels of meaning the comic already encouraged. Fantagraphics Books is providing the chance to enjoy Schulz's great strips anew with its handsome hardcover reprints of Peanuts. Each volume contains two years' worth of comics -- every strip, daily and Sunday, in the order they appeared in newspapers.

The newest of these collections covers the years 1965-1966, a period in which Schulz struggled mightily with issues of faith, culminating in the triumphant December 1965 broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas, in which Linus unprecedentedly recites a long passage from the Gospel of Luke in the middle of a TV program. Also, in 1966 the Schulzes' house burned down; the incident turns up as a raging inferno consuming Snoopy's doghouse (and his Van Gogh).

Aside from the sheer pleasure of revisiting these comics in order -- ranging from throwaway gags to nuggets of wisdom that made Schulz not only a popular favorite but also a longtime hero of the counterculture -- there's great interest in seeing patterns the perceptive Michaelis points out in Schulz's work played out on a day-to-day basis. Schulz's fear of travel manifests in Snoopy's chickening out of a speech he's asked to give at the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. Charlie Brown's first trip to camp -- where he finally makes a friend -- reflects Schulz's stint in the Army, where he briefly came into his own. Most touchingly in light of Schulz's eventual divorce, his stand-in Schroeder acknowledges affection for Lucy only when the Van Pelts briefly move to another town.

Sure, there are some clunkers amid the 700-plus strips collected here. By 1965, Schulz had sold more than a million copies of his uncharacteristically fuzzy book Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, and the occasional strip indulges Schulz's sappy side. And as timeless as the strip feels on most of its pages, Schulz sometimes succumbed to the cartoonist's crutch of using the fads of the day as handy laugh generators. Annette Funicello, surfing and skateboarding make awkward appearances, only to quickly disappear when their one-week (or one-day) utility is exhausted. It's tempting to wish that the publishers had edited out some of the bombs, but any ill will toward Fantagraphics' completism is extinguished by the joys of the book's index, in which Daisy Miller lives near darkness, cursing thereof and Vivaldi immediately precedes Waaaahh! or Waah!

These were two momentous years for Peanuts: Peppermint Patty is introduced; Sally wears an eyepatch; Charlie Brown loses the school spelling bee by spelling maze M-A-Y-S; and Snoopy climbs aboard his Sopwith Camel and battles the Red Baron for the first time. I had forgotten that Snoopy never defeats the Red Baron; his doghouse often winds up riddled in bullet holes and trailing smoke. (Though ditching behind enemy lines often gives him the chance to chat up beautiful French farm girls.) Even Charles Schulz's most happy-go-lucky character could never defeat the enemy who haunted him most memorably for all those years.

Rochester womans house filled with Snoopy memorabilia

October 9, 2007

By Emily Buss
The Post-Bulletin [Rochester, Minnesota]

For Laurie Miller of Rochester, collecting Snoopy memorabilia is more than just a hobby, it's an obsession that has been going for nearly 30 years.

An indicator of it greets visitors at the front door with a doormat of a jubilant Snoopy and The Millers embossed on the mat.

Inside, the Millers' house is filled floor to ceiling with all things Snoopy. From collector dolls and PEZ dispensers to large posters and figurines constructed out of Legos, one might think they were in Snoopy's very own home.

Her love of the classic Peanuts character was sparked by a pin one of her friends made her in 1979 when Miller was in high school.

"My nickname was Hellmer Pup because my maiden name was Hellmer," she said. "There was a drawing of Snoopy on it (the pin) and from there I began to collect everything I could that was Snoopy."

Out of her devotion to the character, Miller said she has more than 2,000 Snoopy pieces and has to limit her spending on new memorabilia. Most of Miller's purchases have come from thrift stores, but most of her collection has been given to her by family members and friends as gifts.

Miller's large collection of Snoopy things doesn't just sit in her home for her own enjoyment. Each year, she celebrates Snoopy by holding a Snoopy Party. After 20 years of holding her party, Miller said this yea's party -- held last week -- was the best.

"The theme this year is the Best of 20 Years," she said. Miller brought out all of the games from previous parties to celebrate Snoopy's birthday.

Miller's party usually brings in more than 20 people each year to what she calls an all-adult party. Games are set up for the attendees to participate in and win prizes. Although not all attendees are as big of fans of Snoopy as Miller, she says she has been told her party is the social event of the year.

"There will be root beer, pepperoni pizza, because it's Snoopys favorite, and chocolate chip cookies," Miller said. "We always have a good time at these parties."

American Masters: Good Ol' Charles Schulz

October 3, 2007

PBS press release

Linus never sees the Great Pumpkin. The nefarious Red Baron always gets away. Good ol' Charlie Brown never, ever kicks that football.

Armed only with security blankets and vivid imaginations, the Peanuts gang endured unrequited love, loneliness, resentment and despair for almost 50 years ... just like their creator, Charles M. Schulz. Every day for decades, Schulz poured out his heart on the comics page and helped us all laugh at life's toughest struggles.

Although characters like Snoopy and phrases like "Happiness is a warm puppy" became part of a billion-dollar global phenomenon, success failed to quell Schulz's own doubts. "I can't believe they think I'm that good," Schulz said tearfully at the end of his last on-camera interview. "I just did the best I could."

In Good Ol' Charles Schulz, American Masters presents an unexpected portrait of the man behind the most popular comic strip in history. The feature-length documentary premieres Monday, October 29, 2007, 9:00-10:30 p.m. ET on PBS.

"I grew up reading Peanuts ... we all did," says Lacy. "The characters are as familiar to us as our own siblings. Their trials and tribulations evoke our own childhood desperations. To learn that Charles Schulz, as incredibly successful as he was, struggled with the same kinds of frustrations and self-doubts his characters did -- and that they helped fuel his art -- was a revelation."

Schulz's genius -- evident throughout his 17,897 comic strips -- lay in depicting the daily collisions of insiders and outsiders, of mundane cruelties and transcendent hopes. With both whimsy and profundity, Schulz offered millions of readers different facets of his own personality, along with a unique take on 20th-century America. Peanuts burst on the scene in 1950 with a minimalist aesthetic and emotional wallop unlike anything seen before. The strip combined open expressions of malice (the very first punch line was "Good ol' Charlie Brown & How I hate him!"), psychological insights and a lifelong loser of a protagonist in a way that upended not only the comics page but also the eras prevailing Father Knows Best mythology. It had an immediate impact on readers of all ages, from bohemia to Peoria.

"Charles Schulz was one of the great artists of the 20th century and an utterly fascinating individual," says director David Van Taylor. "His is a quintessential American tale, in both the extraordinary accomplishments and the relentless self-questioning. Like Horatio Alger's self-made man, Schulz and his best-loved creations wanted to fit into the crowd and couldn't help but stand apart from it."

Good Ol' Charles Schulz includes excerpts from classic Peanuts television specials, archival footage, personal photos and home movies, as well as unlimited use of the comic strips. Archival interviews with Schulz himself offer insight into a humble man who reached the pinnacle of his profession but still described himself as ordinary. Original interviews include Schulz's widow and three oldest children, the real-life inspirations for Linus and the little red-haired girl, prominent cartoonists who knew Sparky Schulz and David Michaelis, author of Schulz and Peanuts (available in October from HarperCollins), who served as consultant to the film.

Throughout, the documentary explores the many connections between Schulz's life and art, from wintry images of a Minnesota boyhood and the echoes of a first marriage in the relationship between Lucy and Schroeder to the dismal family Thanksgiving that found its way into a holiday special. Even when the strip seems least grounded in reality (such as Snoopy's well-loved flights of fancy), it reflects Schulz's state of mind. The film also uses video compositing and original animations to meld Peanuts and Schulz's life.

Like Peanuts, Schulz's story highlights the extraordinary drama of ordinary life. The loss of a parent, heartbreak, divorce, illness, death ... Schulz confronted these universal challenges in his own life and found a way to translate them into the everyday doings and musings of grade-schoolers. The Peanuts gang made smart observations about literature, art, classical music, theology, medicine, psychiatry, sports and the law, becoming permanently affixed in our collective psyche.

But while Peanuts affirmed the Charlie Brown inside us all, Schulz continued hoping he could leave behind the isolation that shadowed him since childhood. Again and again he found, or made, homes and communities for himself: in a Church of God congregation he joined after returning from World War II; at the art school where he taught as an aspiring cartoonist; in the idyllic estate he and his wife Joyce built for their five children in Northern California; in his very different second marriage to Jeannie Schulz.

His continuous ascent encouraged these hopes. Peanuts debuted in seven newspapers on October 2, 1950, through United Features Syndicate, and ended up in 2,500 newspapers. In 1965, after Peanuts made the cover of Time magazine, the animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen in more than 15 million homes, capturing nearly half of all American viewers. Peanuts soon became a worldwide industry. For the first time in the book trade, booksellers started to sell not just Peanuts books but also sweatshirts, dolls and an increasing array of paraphernalia that bore the image and form of the characters in the books. An old idea called licensing would bring in $1 billion a year to United Features and make Schulz richer than any popular artist in the world. Even in death, his annual earnings of $35 million place him just behind Elvis Presley.

But essential doubts continued to plague both the creator and his creations. Would his many admirers seek him out, he wondered, if he weren't rich and famous? Like Charlie Brown, he awoke in the middle of the night to ask hard questions about God, love and life. In later years, he found himself wondering more and more about basic mysteries of his childhood, including the death of his mother just as he left home for military service. He watched Citizen Kane as many as 40 times, looking for clues to his own Rosebud.

Through it all, Schulz's work and his dedication to his characters and his art never flagged. He had known since boyhood that he wanted to be a cartoonist, and it remained his number one commitment. That could be an obstacle in itself, as Schulz's solitary vocation often isolated him even from his loved ones. As a close friend describes it in Good Ol' Charles Schulz, "He was in his own world ... close the door and he lived in Snoopy's doghouse."

But it was also, clearly, his salvation. When all else failed him, Schulz still knew, like Schroeder at his piano, the satisfaction of mastering his art. Even after he developed a tremor, he did all the drawing, all the lettering, himself. Jeannie Schulz compares it to his diary, where he could express and explore his feelings, even those he couldn't share with his family.

That diary was not only Schulz's deliverance, but his legacy. The way Schulz used the strip to wrestle openly with difficult emotions is the ultimate convergence of his life and art. After viewing Good Ol' Charles Schulz, you'll never look at Peanuts the same way again.

Warner makes a deal for Peanuts

Snoopy and his gang also could see new life on mobile, Web, VOD platforms

October 2, 2007

By Susanne Ault

Cowabunga! Warner Home Video has signed a multi-year deal to distribute Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang on DVD and digitally.

The first titles from the pact are deluxe editions of Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown streeting on Jan. 15, 2008, and Feb. 26, 2008, respectively. The content will be re-mastered and boast newly created bonus features.

Overall, Warner has exclusive access to 50 classic Peanuts TV specials and series episodes, based on the comic strip, which is read in 2,400 newspapers spanning 75 different countries. Peanuts content was licensed from United Media, Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates and Lee Mendelson Film Productions.

The deal also opens the door for new made-for-video Peanuts titles, as well as related short-form content distributed for mobile, Web and VOD platforms. Mendelson/Melendez Productions LLS will be involved in crafting such brand new Peanuts material.

Paramount Home Entertainment has previously distributed a number of Peanuts titles, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving in 2000.

"This agreement is a testament to Warner Home Video's dedication to bringing some of the world's most foremost and cherished properties to consumers," said Jeff Brown, Warner senior VP and general manager of TV, family and animation. "We have a tremendous passion for Peanuts and look forward to the opportunity to build this perennial brand by reinvigorating the home video library via product and packaging innovation, potentially creating original content based on Schulz's work and building digital distribution on new media platforms."

United Media is hopeful Warner will attract new fans to its Peanuts franchise.

"A perfect match for Peanuts, Warner Bros. has demonstrated to us and the industry its enormous global reach, creative foresight, marketing expertise, as well as its ability to understand classic properties," said Doug Stern, United Media president and CEO.

Mercer Gets Help From Snoopy in Anti-Smoking Effort

September 27, 2007

By Bethany A. Romanek
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register [West Virginia]

WHEELING -- With one in three West Virginia high school students currently using tobacco products, Dr. William Mercer plans to use a new tool to teach children not to smoke.

On Wednesday, Mercer, who serves as health officer at the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department, announced the Joe Too Cool To Smoke Campaign -- a year-long effort to educate the youth of the county about cigarette smoking, smokeless tobacco and clean indoor air. The program incorporates two of Mercer's favorite things -- Charles Schulz's Peanuts characters and his passion for promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle.

Mercer recently returned from the Peanuts on Parade event in Santa Rosa, Calif., to support the Charles Schulz Foundation. Each year a life size Peanuts character statue is chosen and different individuals and corporations submit themes that they would like to see on the statue.

According to Mercer, the designs are then chosen by the family of the late Charles Schulz. This year the selected character was Joe Cool also known as Snoopy. Mercer submitted his design, Joe Too Cool To Smoke, and it was accepted.

"My love for the Peanuts characters came to my head and I thought how about Joe Too Cool To Smoke?"  Mercer said. "I wanted to use this as a tool back in Ohio County to teach kids not to smoke."

Given his interest in promoting a tobacco-free lifestyle in youth, Mercer left one paw of the Snoopy statue blank. He is asking for all fifth grade students in both the Ohio County Schools system, as well as parochial school students to submit a drawing which will be painted on the figure. One winner from each participating school will be awarded and the overall winner will have their design featured as a permanent part of the statue.

On Oct. 24, Joe Too Cool To Smoke will make his first appearance on the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University with fifth grade students in attendance. Additionally, the 17th Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, will join other dignitaries as invited guests.

"Can this make a difference? I think so," Mercer said. "If we can get our great community behind this we can have a great thing."

Once the 500-pound Snoopy is home in Wheeling, Mercer and a medical student will be visiting each school to speak about the dangers of tobacco use. Mercer will also be incorporating the methods used by Joseph Henry Garagiola, Sr., a former major league baseball catcher, who spoke out about the dangers of tobacco.

Mercer hopes to continue the campaign in other West Virginia counties, promoting Joe Too Cool To Smoke. He hopes the program will one day reach a national level. For more information call (304) 242-6645.

Joe Cool fetches big cash for cool

Hundreds turn out for benefit auction of snoopy statues

September 23, 2007

By Robert Digitale
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

A few sprinkles couldnt dampen the fun Saturday when Santa Rosa bid farewell to its summer of Snoopy, the culmination of three years of whimsical statues placed around town in tribute to Peanuts creator Charles Schulz.

For one last time, visitors strolled past the likenesses of the round-nosed beagle, 90 statues gathered together at the ball field behind the Schulz Museum. Beneath gray skies were sunglasses-wearing Snoopys in Joe Cool personas, as pilot and race car driver, legal beagle and Blues Brother Jake to name but a few.

Like many visitors, Santa Rosan Jenny Lawrence said the fun Saturday came in the photo shoots beside the statues. She said her 11-year-old daughter, Shannon Cook, and Shannons friend, Taylor Hopper, enjoyed play acting for the camera.

"They could be surfing or being pirates," she said.

Saturday also featured the auction of 17 statues at the nearby ice arena. Several hundred fans and bidders attended the event, which featured four popular statues displayed on ice.

The auction raised nearly $250,000, which will benefit art scholarships and a permanent bronze Peanuts sculpture to be unveiled at 11 a.m. today at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.

The top auction item, the tropical-themed Boom shaka laka laka, raised $31,000. It was purchased by the owners of the Flamingo Hotel, who also paid $6,000 for the Egyptian-themed A-snoop-bis, and $30,000 for Joe Cool Giant, signed by 42 past and present San Francisco players, including Barry Bonds.

Schulz, the creator of one of the most popular comic strips in history, died in February 2000 at age 77. He had lived in Sonoma County for more than 40 years.

Santa Rosa's statue invasion began three summers ago with 55 Charlie Browns, followed last summer by 76 Woodstocks and this year's 94 Snoopys.

Some fans at Saturday's auction clapped in support of keeping the statues coming again next year. But Schulz's son Craig told the audience that the end had come.

"This is it, Santa Rosa," Craig Schulz told the crowd. He expressed appreciation that community support had made possible the bronze statue for the airport, adding that "today's unveiling is the day I've been waiting for for eight years."

The three years of statues will be remembered for the sometimes-quirky pop art -- this year included allusions to Harry Potter and pirate Capt. Jack Sparrow. With that was coupled the chance to revel in the creations of a Santa Rosan known round the world.

"To me it's brought so many smiles, not only to the people who live here, but we've had so many people visit our community to see the statues," said former mayor and Peanuts on Parade co-chairwoman Janet Condron.

MetLife blimp gives a smooth, slow ride

September 23, 2007

By Rony Walter
Green Bay Press Gazette [Wisconsin]

The only time my name has appeared in the same sentence as blimp has been ... well, it wasn't flattering.

But when the MetLife blimp coasted past the office window this week after arriving for today's Packers game, it was time to go investigating and blimping.

The insurance people were kind enough to accommodate, so I met the crew of 13 people at the south end of Austin Straubel International Airport on Saturday morning for a close and personal experience with Snoopy 1.

As one who still doesnt understand how planes stay in the air, my assumption was that blimps were just like those helium-filled balloons you buy for birthday parties, only bigger.

Snoopy is bigger -- 128 feet long and 44 feet high, with 69,000 cubic feet of helium. MetLife has owned these things for 20 years and now has three Snoopys.

Pilot Charlie Smith, a 25-year-old Florida native, took us up for a 40-minute drift over Lambeau Field, the same route he'll be taking today so his cameraman can give the television network those aerial pictures of the game.

They'll have a camera attached to the front end of the cabin, gyrating for whatever angles the cameraman wants.

But getting a blimp into the air isn't an easy process.

They had four strong men holding ropes and two others holding onto the ship cabin to make sure Snoopy didn't leave before his time.

When the crew chief, a man named Julian, gave the signal, Smith revved the two gas-powered engines and we went forward and up.

Smith and I were in the 20-by-6-foot cabin that hangs below the blimp. He told me its maximum speed is 52 mph, but it seldom goes that fast.

"The easiest comparison is that it's a lot like sailing," Smith said as we hovered over Lambeau Field for while.

The ride is smooth, with the cabin occasionally swaying back and forth with the wind.

Smith controlled the elevation with wheels on both sides of his chair, and had pedals to determine the direction. Snoopy usually floats between 1,000 and 1,500 above the ground.

"It's a great job," Smith said, looking ahead to trips to Indianapolis, Boston and finally to Florida, where Snoopy will stay for the winter.

"The biggest concern for us is weather," Smith said.

"We couldn't have flown yesterday (Friday) because of the wind, and we're always watching out for heavy storms. We do everything we can to avoid that."

Landing the blimp is determined by wind direction but Smith set it down smoothly in a field south of the runway, and the big guys made sure it stayed there.

Snoopy won't be in Green Bay if there's a January game here. The cold weather and helium just don't get along well.

My only knowledge of blimps was from newsreels, especially the one of the Hindenburg that back in 1937 ... well, let's not go there.

The blimp is obviously a safe flying machine and its staff is professional. But I had to ask Smith about their safety.

"There's a separate air flow that helps us control the pressure," he said, as we floated high above the city.

"We don't want to overload the balloon so it blows up."

Say again?

Snoopy the Flying Ace (Cell Phone Game) Review

That dastardly Red Baron is no match for Snoopy and his barnstormin doghouse.

September 20, 2007

By Levi Buchanan

Snoopy's alter ego as a World War One flying ace was a fun side story in the classic Peanuts pantheon, perhaps the world's most successful (and heartfelt) comic strip. Namco Network's new casual game checks in on Snoopy as he flies not-so-dangerous missions with his Sopwith Camel. Sure, his plane may look a lot like a big, red doghouse, but the point Peanuts creator Charles Schulz was making concerned the wonder of an imagination. So, if you still see a doghouse after reading that, you've been overrun by an overly cynical media age.


Snoopy doesn't engage the Red Baron in direct dogfights in Flying Ace. Instead, the game concentrates on a one-button mechanic that's geared for the ultra-casual crowd. Holding and releasing the OK button raises and lowers Snoopy's plane. Tapping it twice makes him do a loop-de-loop. The pup's mission is to collect enough red balloons in each three-stage chapter to move on to the next. The more balloons you collect, the more points you earn which can be cashed in for classic comic strip downloads. (Thats very cool.)

The balloons are all over the place. Fortunately, you have a small guide along the top of the screen that shows the relative placement and altitude of the upcoming balloons so you can make the necessary adjustments. Matters are complicated by storm clouds, wind gusts, and the Red Baron's fly-bys. Snoopy can pick up mugs of his favorite drink, root beer, to increase speed. Picking up Woodstock and his friends increases Snoopys bonuses, as does barnstorming or clipping the Peanuts gang on the ground.

This is not the first game to use this one-button mechanic. Vivendi's Flying Toaster game tried it before, for example. It's not an exceptionally deep kind of game, but married with a cool theme, it can work. Snoopy is a good fit. For Peanuts fans, it's exceptionally endearing. If you're not a Snoopy fan, though, the simple game play may leave you a little cold.

Closing Comments

Snoopy the Flying Ace is a simple, casual game geared for the legions of Peanuts fans. There are a lot of flying missions in here, giving the game some longevity. However, the coolest feature by far is the ability to download comics after earning enough points. That's the kind of added value more casual mobile games need.

Pig Pen: From Concept to Creation

September 18, 2007

By David Scroggy
Dark Horse Web news

As long-time collectors and Dark Horse Deluxe fans are aware, we have for the last several years been producing a remarkable line of statuettes in the style of vintage syrocos, which are the common name for a type of figurine popular in the 1930s and 1940s.

The brainchild of Dark Horse President Mike Richardson, these limited-edition figurines are produced in very short runs, and are unique in the marketplace. Packaged in distinctive litho-printed tin boxes, the series has captured everything from the greatest newspaper comic strip characters to Kellogg's cereal mascots to comic book heroes.

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy series is the current one: a set of ten statuettes inspired by one of the greatest comics of all time, Charles Schulz's Peanuts. Produced under license from United Media, with the direct participation of the Schulz Estate, these new releases are being delivered to discriminating collectors and retailers.

Constructing these deceptively simple sculptures is actually quite challenging, since sometimes capturing a character's essence in a simple way is often a most difficult assignment. As an example, let's look at Pig Pen.

In the Peanuts strips, this unwashed kid is largely defined by the cloud of dirt and gritty speckled dots that swirl about him. This is apparent in what we call the source art, which is taken from the Peanuts style guide. Turning to the talents at Yoe! Studio, we found ourselves going straight to the top-President and Peanuts expert Clizia Gussoni, who graciously decided to personally supervise the translation from pen and ink to three dimensions.

"Growing up in Rome, Peanuts was one of my favorite comic strips. It appeared in newspapers, which my father used to read to me, and themed collected book editions. I always related to Peppermint Patty, because she fell asleep in class and wasn't ready with her homework assignments--just like me!"

"In designing the statues, we had to think of which illustrations to pick. Like different photos of the same person, they change subtly from strip to strip. Trying to pinpoint which phase of Schulz's career to pick to depict the characters was key, since the character's appearance evolved over time. In the end, we picked the look of the characters from more-or-less the 1970s versions."

Having provided this assessment, she had the Yoe! illustration team create the Concept Art, which was submitted to Schulz creative team leader Paige Braddock for approval prior to sculpting. Agreeing that this direction was the way to go, we then proceeded to sculpting. This resulted in the Clay Sculpt. The clay is a preliminary hand-crafted version of the final piece prior to casting and painting.

In Pig Pen's case, the visual solution of his hair, the dust cloud at his feet, and other details were refined. Dark Horse project manager Sarah Sturgill discussed the sculpture with Ms. Braddock, and they agreed that the approach was a good way to solve the visual problem as far as the sculpture was concerned, and outlined additional features to be addressed in the paint application phase.

At that point, a mold was made of the clay piece, and a resin casting was created. After approval there were to be no further sculptural changes.

The Yoe! team then created a color palette, submitting the colors as designated by the widely used PMS color codes. Again, this was consistent with the Peanuts style guide. The coloring was essential to the success of Pig Pen. Experimentation revealed that the black speckled dots Schulz used to convey dirt and grit came off as if they were acne or skin blemishes. Ms. Gussoni came up with a smudgy paint effect that looked, well, dirty. While this solution was actually quite different than the cartoon sketches, it was an inspired choice that really solved the problem. We had arrived at a Pig Pen that was true to the underlying character, but attainable in production.

We started with a darker-than-usual skin color. We put a wash on top of the first paint application to give it a smudged look, trying different levels to get the right patina. It's interesting ... usually with the syroco-style pieces we take a complex color scheme and simplify it. With Pig Pen, we used a fairly sophisticated paint application to create an effect that appears simple. It is only a rumor that we used Craig Yoe as a model by smearing dirt and mud on his face over and over until we found what we were looking for!

The painted version and an unpainted tooling pattern were then sent to the manufacturer. They reviewed it, and suggested that since his individual hairs would be overly fragile in the poly-resin material the rest of the statue was made of, that they would use thick wire for the hairs, which would be bent into shape and painted.

Meanwhile, Sturgill coordinated the graphic design of the tin box art, as well as the booklet on the character and pinback button that are inserted into the inside lid of the box. All these were approved, and the components were sent to different manufacturers for production and subsequent delivery to the statue factory.

As the statues were produced, we receive additional samples from the production run, which were sent to United Media and the Schulz team to confirm that the quality is consistent throughout the run. Each is hand-numbered on the underside of the base. Then the finished, assembled statuettes are carefully packed for shipping into cartons of eight, with each carton numbered so the individual numbers of the contents can be determined.

These are shipped from the factory in China to Hong Kong, where they are sent via ocean freight to the Port of Seattle, and by truck to the Dark Horse warehouse for distribution.

The result is a charming collectible whose simplicity belies the complexity of its creation.

Sonoma State music hall may be named for Peanuts Schroeder

September 17, 2007

The Associated Press

ROHNERT PARK, California -- One of the three main buildings comprising Sonoma State Universitys new performing arts center may be named for Schroeder, the precocious, Beethoven-loving pianist of Peanuts fame.

Campus officials proposed naming the 250-seat recital hall for the cartoon character because the widow of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz donated $5 million toward the project, which will be part of the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center, Sonoma State spokeswoman Susan Kashack said.

"I know Sparky would have enjoyed thinking about Schroeder's connection to such a grand hall and stage," Jean Schulz said, referring to her late husband by one of his nicknames.

Jean Schulz graduated from Sonoma State, and Charles Schulz lived in Sonoma County for 42 years before he died in 2000.

California State University system trustees must approve the building's name, which they are expected to this week, according to Kashack.

Along with Schroeder's Recital Hall, the $100 million Green Music Center also will feature a 1,400-seat concert hall and a music education building, Kashack said.

The facility is scheduled to open in the fall of 2009.

Best in show

Happiness is existential ennui

September 11, 2007

By R.C. Baker
The Village Voice

The Complete Peanuts, 1965-66
344 pp.; $28.95

In this eighth volume of an eventual 25 collecting all the daily and Sunday Peanuts strips, Snoopy dons an aviators helmet for the first of his jaunty dogfights with the Red Baron.

It's easy to track down this historical event through the index, which takes you to SNOOPY . . . House Burning Down . . . Siblings . . . As World War I Flying Ace . . . 

The beagle who flies, plays a mean shortstop, and subs as a bespectacled analyst at the neighborhood psychiatric booth is made utterly believable through deft drawing; when sleeping, hes a heap of bulbous curves, which shift to taut diagonals whenever he performs his ecstatic bipedal dances.

Maybe its no coincidence that Charles M. Schulz (1922-2000) created such a popular, charismatic canine, since he once confessed to an interviewer, It took me a long time to become a human being. Hed had no dates in high school, and although he was a decent athlete, the other kids still regarded him as kind of sissyfied.

One could read these slights as the impetus to Charlie Browns failure to ever pitch a winning game or squire that little red-haired girl to a school dance. But how to explain the first ever Peanuts strip (published on October 2, 1950), of two kids sitting together on a curb?

As the future icon strolls by, the boy observes to the girl: Good ol' Charlie Brown . . . How I hate him!

If brevity is the soul of wit, perhaps it was Schulzs astonishingly spare penwork that propelled the existential charm of the world he created. The boy in that first comic (who later became Shermy) sits with his hands crossed in his lap -- until he delivers his anti-punch line with a downward squiggle of his brow and hands firmly on knees, body language as decisively portrayed as in any Picasso sketch.

Schulz, though, never considered himself a true artist, explaining I would love to be Andrew Wyeth or Picasso.

Yet this utterly steel-willed Minnesotans accomplishment -- 17,897 work-a-day dramas that struck a universal nerve -- was driven by his artwork. "I don't think you can write a comic strip on a typewriter," he pointed out."You're robbing yourself of the ideas that come from drawing."

It was succinct visuals -- the foreshortening of Charlie Browns stubby legs as he lies forlornly on the pitchers mound, the rhythm of dark and light panels when Snoopy is behind enemy lines -- that made Schulzs Little League agonies and Great Pumpkin catechisms ring true. Like his chosen art form, there's something uniquely American about Schulzs earthbound realism.

He never quite figured out how to fill in the Happiness is a blank in his own life, and he never let his characters forget it.

Charlie Brown gang goes glam at Snoopy in Fashion

September 7, 2007

By Jan Paschal

NEW YORK -- Good grief, Charlie Brown, you're gorgeous!

Who knew that beneath that sweater beat the heart of a fashionista whod rather wear a shiny gold mini dress?

Isaac Mizrahi, that's who.

He was among more than a dozen top designers, including Betsey Johnson, Pamella Roland and Heatherette, as well as celebrities like Kristin Chenoweth and Whoopi Goldberg, who gave the beloved Peanuts comic strip characters a total makeover on Friday night at the MetLife Snoopy in Fashion show in Manhattan's Bryant Park.

The designers' creations will be auctioned on eBay in October to raise money for the nonprofit organization Dress for Success, which provides low-income women with career clothes and support to help them thrive in the workplace.

For Charlie Brown, it was a gender-bender to remember.

Dutch designers Spijkers en Spijkers, who are twin sisters, imagined Charlie in a flared satin dress that looked more club kid than playground.

Jeannie Schulz, the widow of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, welcomed the New York Fashion Week crowd of 1,500 to the show with a glimpse into her husband's own style sense.

"My husband always loved a good show and he always loved clothes," she said. "He couldn't pass a men's clothing store without looking at the sweaters."

Later, she told Reuters that fans sent him beautiful sweaters, which he found touching, but she added: "You know, you kind of like to pick your own."

On the runway, Snoopy proved that a beagle can clean up nice when he's wearing a white mink coat designed by Jeremy Scott for Saga Furs.

Woodstock channeled his inner showgirl when model Camilla strutted out in a bright yellow top hat and matching dress with beaded top and sassy skirt made of feathers.

"I put Woodstock in a little bitty dress. I used dyed ostrich feathers," said designer Laura Bennett, the Project Runway finalist from the Bravo show last fall.

But it was her vision of Pig Pen in clouds of light brown tulle and a copper jersey gown that almost stopped the show.

"Pig Pen was a little bit more of a challenge," Bennett told Reuters. "He's known for his grunge aesthetic. I wanted to give him some of my glam."

Ingrid Hoffmann, host of Simply Delicioso on the Food Network, gave crabby Lucy a chance to shed her schoolgirl dress and saddle shoes. Hoffmann slipped Lucy into a blue chiffon swimsuit cover-up and stilettos.

"I wanted a va-va-voom Lucy! It's as if Lucy goes to South Beach or she's on the French Riviera," Hoffmann said.

She also did the backstage catering, bringing lettuce wrap sandwiches in hopes of enticing the models to eat something, adding:"Those girls looked like they could use a good meal."

Dog of many disguises

Santa Rosa's final statue summer celebrates Snoopy

August 16, 2007

By Derrick Bang
The Davis Enterprise [California]

I knew we were in for a long day, after realizing that the dot for statue No. 62 was off the map ... as in way off.

And mind you, the map in question already represented a good chunk of the outlying area surrounding Santa Rosa.

The missing dot corresponded to the offices of the Laguna Treatment Plant, so I suppose its outlying location makes sense. Nobody wants to live downwind of a treatment plant.

Which also begs the bigger question: a people-sized statue of Snoopy ... at a treatment plant?

Such is the appeal of Charles M. Schulz's beloved Peanuts characters, and the ongoing local sponsorship interest in the annual tribute programs that have filled Santa Rosa with statues for the past few summers.

According to Schulz's son Craig, though, this will be Santa Rosa's final fling with the whimsical artworks.

That's a shame; family treasure hunts rarely are this much fun.

"We planned on a three-year program from the beginning," Craig said, during a recent chat, "and in doing so we intentionally left Snoopy out until the last year. We've had such a great response from the public -- and such awesome support from the sponsors -- that a lot of people want it to continue, but we feel that since weve asked so much from the sponsors and all the volunteers, that we don't want to push it too far."

"We feel we will go out on a very high note. Unfortunately, there's no easy way to end an event like this, without some sadness."

A high note, indeed.

Snoopy's Joe Cool Summer has put an impressive 95 statues of the world-famous beagle on the streets and in the businesses of Santa Rosa. They follow in the, ah, footsteps of Charlie Brown and Woodstock, who filled the city in, respectively, the summers of 2005 and '06.

The program has gotten more ambitious each year, which is great news for the eager sponsors ... but perhaps a bit daunting for dedicated statue-searchers. Finding all 55 Charlie Brown statues was a challenge for a one-day excursion, but certainly easy if divided between two days. Tagging the 76 Woodstock statues was pretty much impossible in a single day, but not at all difficult during a leisurely paced weekend.

But 95 Joe Cool statues?

After learning of that total, our intrepid team -- ace photographer Scott McGuire, your humble correspondent and my constant companion -- budgeted a full weekend in mid-June, along with the subsequent Saturday. We figured all three days would be necessary, but we secretly hoped to finish during the first weekend.

Although not that far away, a trip to Santa Rosa isnt necessarily a trivial drive; Highway 101 can be a parking lot, and the alternate inland route can slow to a crawl, depending on the influx of winery visitors.

As for how we did ... we'll get back to that.


In their virgin state, the statues are roughly 5 feet tall and made of white polyurethane resin. All the statues start out looking identical: Snoopy in his Joe Cool persona, wearing sunglasses and canted at a slight tilt, as if he's leaning against an invisible doghouse. The statues were produced by the TivoliToo Design & Sculpting Studios, and delivered to Santa Rosa earlier this spring.

They were unveiled to the public during a paint-off that took place May 15-20, when dozens of artists -- amateur and pro -- let their imaginations run amok while transforming each statue into something unique. Some artists were satisfied with novel paint schemes, while others added physical accessories or even built up the statues in some way (most commonly, adding a small Woodstock).

Each statue also received a title, many with pun-laden plays on words ... such as 00K9 ... Her Majestys Secret Beagle, The Underwater World of Joe Coolsteau, the cow-inspired S-moo-py and the golf-themed Life's Ruff.

Honestly, part of the fun is the size of the groan produced by some of the more inventive titles.

The statues were distributed throughout the city in late May and early June, where -- vandals permitting -- they'll remain until the end of the summer. From Sept. 15-21, they'll all be moved to the ball field adjacent to the Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, where fans will be able to spot the few that might have eluded them until then.

Finally, a festival and statue auction will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22. If you've got $15,000 or so to blow, you, too, could return home with a rather unusual -- and large -- adornment for the back yard garden. According to Craig Schulz, at least 16 statues will be up for bid.

Not all statues are auctioned: Sponsors who wish to keep them are entitled to do so, if they fork over a contribution on top of the base statue price and artists fees. Indeed, we saw many Charlie Brown and Woodstock statues during our recent search for Joe Cool. A few ambitious sponsors displayed tableaus of all three statues, having been involved each year.

The funds raised will go toward local artist scholarships and the permanent bronze statue that will be unveiled at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 23, at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport.

"The bronze isn't quite finished yet," Craig admitted,"but they promise me they've never been late, and that it will be here. It's the classic image of Charlie Brown and Linus at the wall, and it'll be around 4 to 5 feet tall."


As we did last summer, our team began at the aforementioned airport, at the western end of the appropriately named Airport Boulevard, at the northern fringes of Santa Rosa. Things are hopping at the tiny airport these days; as of March 21, Horizon Air began daily service to and from Seattle and Los Angeles. Even so, the facility remains delightfully old-school; passengers walk directly onto the runway to board their flights, and major airport-style security checks are scarcely more than an afterthought.

The airport is, quite appropriately, home to Flying Ace Nabs the Red Baron, a statue that shows the WWI Flying Ace leaning on a tiny airport control tower, an equally miniature Red Baron rather futilely buzzing its much larger target. (Images of King Kong swatting at biplanes spring to mind.)

Half a dozen other statues are within a few blocks, most notably the absolutely gorgeous Joe Cool-perman, complete with spit-curl and decked out in Kal-El's familiar red, blue and yellow caped outfit.

From there, you can pick up Elton Comes to Play -- one of two Elton John-themed statues -- at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts, while following Highway 101 south back into Santa Rosa proper.

Having now become a veteran statue-seeker, I recommend no fewer than three participants for such a challenge: one to drive; one to intently study the map, when the reality of Santa Rosas streets fails to conform with what is expected (which happens more than youd expect); and one to peer in every direction, seeking both street signs and statues, and shout, "There it is!"

And, frankly, the more the merrier: Chartering a limo aint a bad idea.

Despite having conducted our search almost as quickly as the statues were unveiled -- so quickly, in fact, that a few of the 95 still hadnt been completed -- we were dismayed by the destructive efforts of vandals. The Egyptian-flavored A-snoop-bis was missing the top half of his staff, while the entire skateboard had been ripped away from Cool the World. Similarly, Cowboy Joe Cool was absent its lariat, and a cell phone had been removed from the paw of Joe Chops.

Small wonder, then, that some sponsors have self-defensively moved their statues indoors. That's great for protecting their investment, not so good for statue-seekers who show up after hours or on weekends.

Bear in mind, then, that the following statues are visible only during (usually weekday) business hours:

* No. 30: Shakespeare Snoopy, inside Halls Engraving;
* No. 34: Joe Cool and the Gang, inside the credit union at 501 College Ave.;
* No. 38: Joe Cool Bowler, inside the County Administration Building;
* No. 39: the incredibly neat FM DJ Joe Cool, spinning platters inside the KZST/KJZY radio station;
* No. 82: Pinot Puppy, well inside the Paradise Ridge Winery complex;
* No. 86: Wingardium LeviJoesa, a Harry Potter-themed statue behind closed gates at the Sonoma County Day School.

Additionally, the dot for No. 79 -- the aforementioned Life's Ruff -- is mislocated on the map produced by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat; the statue actually is at the Fountaingrove Golf and Country Club, not too far from Paradise Ridge Winery and its Pinot Puppy.

Changes of this nature are tabulated as quickly as they become known, and added to an errata sheet that can be picked up at the Santa Rosa Visitors Center in Railroad Square, 9 Fourth St., west of Highway 101 in downtown Santa Rosa. The Visitors Center also has its own statue -- Pucker Up, Sweetie - which will be presented to the lucky winner of a summer-long raffle. Tickets, at a mere $1, are available inside the Visitors Center.

Further information can be obtained by calling (800) 404-7673 or visiting

That's also a good place to park and walk, because Joe Cool ... Always the Top Dog, Fly Fisherman Snoopy, Snoopy in My Dreams, Hamilton A.F.B. 1967, Snoopy Dawg: Hip Beagle, Joe Brakeman Cool and Puttin on the Ritz are within a few easy blocks.

(We were pleased to see that the city apparently abandoned its large red Doghouse Information Booth, supposedly a second source of maps and additional information, which in previous years was placed about a mile away at the Old Courthouse Square. Despite signs with clearly specified staffing hours, we never found anybody at the booth during our 2005 and '06 sorties.)

The Schulz Complex -- the Charles M. Schulz Museum, the Redwood Empire Ice Arena (Snoopy's Home Ice) and Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop -- also boasts a wealth of statues: Cool Reflections, Joe Masterpiece, Mr. Joe Debonair, famed artist Tom Everhart's Boom shaka laka laka, and Original Joe Cool.

Additionally, the too-gorgeous-for-words Joe Coolzilla was moved from its original location to the Schulz Museum.

While at Snoopy's Gallery and Gift Shop, you can purchase a variety of "Joe Cool Summer" souvenirs, from caps and T-shirts -- several styles of each -- to playing cards, wine glasses and a giant ceramic bank.

The Redwood Empire Ice Arena also is the site of the 24/7 Snoopy cam -- -- which is refreshed with a new image every 30 seconds. The camera keeps a steady eye on Cool Reflections, a mirror-hued statue put together by Craig Schulz and his family. Synchronize watches and warn your friends in advance, and the entire world will be able to see you pose with the statue.


Our favorites?

First place is easy: Bling Dazzle Law Dawg, a meticulously assembled tile-and-mosaic creation by artist Ellen Blakeley, who made similar Woodstock and Charlie Brown statues. We were lucky enough to see her in action, while touring the Paint-Off earlier in the year. She is amazingly patient.

Other high points include the aforementioned Joe Coolzilla, FM DJ Joe Cool, Elton Comes to Play, Flying Ace Nabs the Red Baron, Joe Masterpiece and Joe Cool-perman; Fleurs De Beagle, another beautiful statue from annual sponsors King's Nursery; Steel Cool, welding his way into fans' hearts outside of Barndt's Welding; and Funtime at Fairtime: Be Cool.

No doubt you'll find favorites of your own.

With gas still hovering at $3 a gallon, I can't really call this a free adventure; it's easy to drain one or two tanks, depending on the fuel economy of your chariot of choice. But when compared to theme park prices, stalking Joe Cool still rates as a family-friendly bargain.

Oh, right ... how did we do?

With industrious driving and a very early start on our Sunday morning, we found every statue available during our two-day weekend. Mind you, a few of those were photographed behind glass, since we werent touring during business hours.

But "available" is a loaded word. We checked off 89 of the 95; two of the others were in the shop for repairs, while the remaining four hadn't yet made it to the streets. During a return trip to Santa Rosa a few weekends later -- for other reasons -- we took an hour to find five of the remaining six.

The last one -- Snoopy Dawg: Hip Beagle -- still was out for repairs.

Can we retire, having missed only one?

I rather doubt it ... which means another trip to Santa Rosa in the near future.

Wings over Wine Country

Snoopy flies again: Scale model of Sopwith Camel, vintage warplanes featured at weekend air show

August 15, 2007

By Bob Norbert
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat

One-of-a-kind, three-quarter scale models of Snoopy's Sopwith Camel and the Red Barons Fokker triplane, characters familiar to millions of Peanuts fans, will be center stage this weekend at the Wings Over Wine Country air show.

"It's our connection with Charles Schulz and his legacy, with Snoopy and the Red Baron," said Dave Pinsky, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Air Museum, based at the airport bearing the late Santa Rosa cartoonist's name.

The two models, which hung in the Sonoma County Fairground's Hall of Flowers and are detailed down to the ribbed wings, are two of the museum's newest acquisitions.

They will be displayed alongside two dozen modern jet fighters, prop-driven war birds and two planes new to the museum: a Pitt Special aerobatics plane and a former California Department of Forestry firefighting tanker.

There also will be performances by five civilian and three military aerobatic teams, parades of dozens of World War II-era planes that will fly by the airport, and cockpits and a flight simulator for people to crawl in and get the feel of rudders and control sticks.

Among the planes on display will be a Lockheed P-38 dubbed City of Santa Rosa, using the name of a similar plane that was first flown in the Korean War by pilot Willis Tupper, who named the plane after his hometown.

"The real one was lost. It went out for a night mission and never came back" said Ron Stout of Santa Rosa, an air museum volunteer who has been involved in the plane's 17-year restoration.

About 25,000 people are expected at the show, now in its 11th year.

"Air shows are getting to be one of the big attractions for outdoors entertainment," said Barney Hagen, a former Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, who is the shows operations director."People like to see the aerobatic maneuvers, they like to see the military aircraft."

The show is Saturday and Sunday at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, which itself is steeped in aviation history.

During World War II, it was an Army airfield to train Lockheed P-38 and Bell P-39 fighter pilots, and before that it was the site of the first air mail plane, which flew from Petaluma in 1911.

"Sonoma County has an extremely rich aviation heritage," Pinsky noted, a history that he said the 18-year-old, not-for-profit air museum was formed to preserve.

The annual air show is the museum's largest fund-raiser, netting about $100,000 in profit, which is used to restore the museum's planes and for a new, larger museum proposed for land a quarter-mile away.

The show runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $5 for children.

On Friday, a C-17 Globemaster, a military cargo plane able to take off and land in short distances, will fly in, and there will be an aerobatic practice at 2 p.m. for pilots of a Pitt Special and a Navy F/A-18 Hornet.

MetLife Blimp Snoopy Three Debuts As Company Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary of Blimp Program

August 14, 2007

NEW YORK -- MetLife Inc. announced today the debut of Snoopy Three, the newest blimp addition to the MetLife Blimp Program. Snoopy Three will serve to enhance the company's blimp program for three months beginning in August, through the end of October 2007. Snoopy Three will handle an extended blimp schedule, as a result of pick-up in activity in celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the MetLife Blimp Program.

"We are excited to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the MetLife Blimp Program," said Beth Hirschhorn, senior vice president, Global Brand & Marketing Services, MetLife. "The blimps are an icon of our company that play an integral role in MetLife's marketing mix -- bringing viewers valuable coverage on a range of events and promoting what we do as a company -- the MetLife blimps are the most recognized blimps in the country."

Snoopy Three will join Snoopy One and Snoopy Two, primarily providing aerial television coverage of NFL games and special events across the US. MetLife blimps, Snoopy One and Snoopy Two, will also continue to provide aerial television coverage of sporting and special events across the US.

In a typical year, the MetLife blimps cover approximately 60 events for a variety of networks including NBC, CBS, ABC, ESPN, TGC and TNT. The blimps can be seen capturing shots of events ranging from the US Open and PGA Championship, to the races of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes, as well as NFL football games across the country. In between television commitments, the MetLife blimps support MetLife functions with special flyovers for clients and employees.

Structurally, Snoopy Three is an A-150+ model blimp, which is 165 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 55 feet tall -- with a gondola that can accommodate the pilot plus nine passengers. The blimp is significantly larger than Snoopy One and Snoopy Two which are A-60+ models, with a passenger capacity of three passengers plus one pilot. The smaller airships are designed to cover golf events which require them to be nimble and most of all quiet. Snoopy Three is decaled with celebratory artwork and the slogan, Celebrating 20 Years of the MetLife Blimp in honor of the programs anniversary.

For more information, please visit

It's the great celebration...

Charlie Brown will draw fans as the Peanuts museum marks its fifth anniversary

August 8, 2007

By Dixie Reid
The Sacramento Bee

Sparky said he would end Peanuts when he finally wore a hole in the drawing board he used for 50 years. Sadly, that day never came.

The famous piece of hardwood now resides in a re-creation of his working studio at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, which kicks off its yearlong fifth-anniversary celebration this weekend. Schulz's old drawing table stands at a permanent tilt in front of his favorite leather swivel chair.

Peanuts fans who never set foot in his longtime studio down the road at One Snoopy Place can linger here and imagine. Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, Pigpen, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock and the smartest beagle ever, Snoopy, came to life on this table, born out of the mind of a shy, funny, bespectacled man known since age 2 as Sparky.

Here, too, are old studio wall paneling and draperies, along with some of Schulz's favorite books and knickknacks. A 1963 documentary with rare footage of him drawing Peanuts characters plays in a continuous loop on a small TV set.

Schulz's widow, Jeannie, was surprised when the museum's staff proposed celebrating the anniversary. Her husband won his first Reuben Award, the top honor given by the National Cartoonists Society, in 1955, five years into the five-decade run of Peanuts.

"That was pretty amazing and a great vote of confidence for the comic strip," she says, "but he had to keep working at it, to keep ahead of the competition. So I'm like Sparky: When the museum is 50 years old, we'll consider it a success."

Schulz died at age 77 on Feb. 12, 2000, the day before the last original Peanuts appeared in Sunday newspapers. A fresh Peanuts had been in the funny pages every day since Oct. 2, 1950, and those closest to Schulz believed he simply couldn't bear to see it all end.

He was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 1999 and announced his retirement a few weeks later. He had drawn enough dailies (Mondays-Saturdays) to run through Jan. 3, 2000. On Jan. 4, strips pulled from the Peanuts archives -- which number 18,000 Sundays and dailies -- started running in 2,600 subscriber newspapers.

Seven years later, Classic Peanuts  still appears in 2,400 newspapers worldwide, including The Bee.

"We all continue to see ourselves in the strip, in how we connect to the world and how we relate to other people," says museum director Karen Johnson. "And we see our own hopes, dreams, wishes and fears. Peanuts is decent and it's funny and it's whimsical and it's everlasting, because it's just about being human."

"There are so many themes and expressions and emotions in Peanuts that we can all relate to. It's timeless," says Melissa Menta, an executive with United Media, the licensing and syndication agency for Peanuts, and a member of the Schulz Museum's board of directors.

The museum's mission from the beginning has been to preserve, display and interpret Schulz's artwork and to support cartooning in general. Since opening on Aug. 17, 2002, a quarter-million visitors have gazed upon and pondered original Peanuts strips, and some of them spend a little extra time at Sparky's studio, where his drawing board sits, retired.

The museum is at once classy and whimsical. It's a modern-looking building made of slate, glass and rich-looking woods with more than 6,000 square feet of gallery space and a 2,000-square-foot Great Hall dominated by Japanese artist Yoshiteru Otani's two large Peanuts- inspired art installations. One is a layered-wood wall sculpture depicting Snoopy as he morphs from looking like Schulz's childhood pet, Spike, to the beagle he is today. The other is a mammoth mural showing mischievous Lucy holding the football for good ol' Charlie Brown. The surprise is that, on closer inspection, the mural is composed of 3,588 ceramic tiles, each a miniature Peanuts strip.

Also part of the museum are smaller exhibit spaces on two floors, a research library, a 100-seat theater and a room where kids create their own art. Among the outside attractions are a labyrinth that looks like Snoopy's head and a kite-eating tree.

This tribute to a comic strip stands a few blocks west of Highway 101 in a neighborhood that should, by all rights, be called Schulz Acres. Across the street is the Swiss-themed Redwood Empire Ice Arena that Schulz built for this community in 1969. He competed in a Tuesday night hockey league and in the annual Senior World Hockey Tournament, which he founded. The hockey tournament goes on every summer, but the elaborate, professional ice show he put on every Christmas doesn't.

Schulz's properties were so close together that he could walk in a matter of minutes from his studio to the ice arena (where he dined twice a day at the Warm Puppy Cafe), his indoor tennis court and the baseball field he built for neighborhood kids.

The idea for the museum originated with two friends of the Schulzes, cartoon collector Mark Cohen and longtime attorney Ed Anderson. It took the couple a while to embrace the notion, though.

"Ed began to think about Sparky's legacy and how we were going to preserve it," says Jeannie Schulz, who was married to the cartoonist for 26 years. "He and Mark said to Sparky, We need to do something, to have a museum. And I thought, What do you mean, a museum? Sparky is here. I don't think I ever thought (the comic strip) would end, but finally I began hearing what they were saying and thinking how it could really happen."

The Schulzes financed the $8 million museum, which operates as a non- profit. Early plans show that architect C. David Robinson created an office space with an adjoining bathroom for Schulz, who just wanted another place to spend a little time when he wasnt drawing.

Schulz, reluctant at first, warmed to the idea of the museum as a place where Peanuts fans could see his original artwork. He loved his drawings and thought it a waste for people not to enjoy them.

As much a part of popular culture as Peanuts has been for more than a half-century, Jeannie Schulz thinks scholars will someday study her late husband's work. And they can do that in the museum's vast research center.

"I think Peanuts is going to have a revival among people who are going to come at it from a different point of view, not as a popular thing people read every day and forgot about, or that was in the back of their brain," she says. "I think they're going to come at it from the point of view of its humanity and how, despite the way the world changed, it always tapped into basic human philosophy, fears, feelings and needs."

Schulz, the son of a Minneapolis barber, introduced the phrases happiness is a warm puppy, security blanket and good grief! into the languages of 64 countries. The images of Snoopy on his doghouse roof, Linus and his blanket, and Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown at the last moment are forever fixed in the minds of fans. The comic strip and its characters are nothing if not enduring.

"Peanuts licensing -- the plush Snoopys and all -- is a $1.2 billion international business," according to Menta. One example of its merchandising success is retailer Urban Outfitters, which sold out of its Charlie Brown Christmas tree the last two years, along with the Linus blanket it introduced for the 2006 holiday season. This year, Urban Outfitters will sell an exclusive Snoopy plush, with a portion of profits going to the U.S. Humane Society.

The characters also live on with young fans who every year watch the animated specials A Charlie Brown Christmas, which premiered on television in 1965; It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966); and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (1973). Every season, these beloved shows still draw millions of viewers.

And now Snoopy is about to rock the Big Apple.

Top fashion designers, such as Betsey Johnson and Isaac Mizrahi, have created Peanuts-inspired frocks for the Snoopy in Fashion runway show during next month's Fashion Week in New York City. Afterward, the clothes will be sold on eBay, with proceeds going to Dress for Success.

"It's another sign that Peanuts remains relevant to people, and now its reaching the hip fashionistas," says Menta.

Schulz Museum director Johnson believes the Peanuts gang will live on for many, many years because of the man Charles Schulz was.

"Sparky had this Everyman humanity, this ability to really home in on what it meant to be alive, to be human and have angst and be hopeful. He had this discipline that every day he could deliver that through his characters," she says. "People talk about his genius and human connection, but it's important to talk about his daily discipline to his art and to his fans and to the characters that made Peanuts live for 50 years."

For Snoopy Two pilot, it's not a dog's life

Pilot loves traveling country with blimp

August 4, 2007

By Rick Armon
The Akron Beacon Journal [Ohio]

Allan Judd's office has an awesome view.

As long as you're not afraid of heights.

As a pilot for the MetLife Snoopy Two airship, Judd spends his days cruising high above sporting events across the country. And this week, he's in Akron buzzing 1,500 feet above Firestone Country Club, providing sky-view television coverage of the Bridgestone Invitational golf tournament.

"I'll grow old and gray doing this," the 54-year-old said Friday during a spin above the course with a Beacon Journal reporter and photographer. "This is too much fun."

The MetLife Snoopy Two is cozy. As in small.

It's only 128 feet long and 44 feet high. (For comparison, the Goodyear blimp is 192 feet long and nearly 60 feet high.)

It's not designed to haul passengers around for joy rides; it holds only three people comfortably, including the pilot. Instead, it's specially fitted with video equipment for capturing the sports action.

This is a working blimp.

During the tournament, Judd steers the craft, and a videographer focuses on the golf. It's not an easy job.

The people look like, yes, ants.

So just imagine how difficult it is to follow the flight of a golf ball.

Judd keeps an eye out for any interesting pictures to be used during the broadcast. The blimp cruises along around 30 mph, so it's not like everything is a blur or disappears quickly as it would from an airplane.

"The view is slow as it goes by so you can study things," Judd said.

Just as he said that, Judd noticed something interesting. A firetruck spraying water into the Portage Lakes. Then something else.

"Must have had a trampoline dealer go through the area because there are one, two, three, four, five within a block area," he said.

Judd, who has been flying airships since 1984 and has written a childrens book titled Adventures of Buddy The Blimp, has a background in oceanography. So when he talks about riding the airship, he compares the experience to a boat ride.

Instead of riding waves, the Snoopy Two gently rides air currents. Of course, it's not always gently.

"There are those windy days that feel like white water," he admitted.

The best part of the job, he said, is sharing the experience with others -- whether they are on board or on the ground. Kids and adults alike jump up and down and point as the Snoopy Two passes overhead.

"It's fantastic to see people smile," Judd said.

While he has the glory job of flying the ship, he can't put the Snoopy Two in the air by himself. A crew of 14 people helps maintain, launch and land the blimp and follows it around to the different sporting events.

"It's a great way to see the country," crew chief Cory Yglesias said.

Asked where he lives, Judd responded, "in a hotel."

"It's like having 75 or so homes," he said.

Asked if there are any downsides to being a blimp pilot -- especially considering the travel -- Judd smiles and shakes his head no.

"I'm in an inverted submarine floating around in an ocean of air -- so I'm really happy," he said.

For more information about the Snoopy Two, go online to or

MetLife presents Snoopy in Fashion at New York's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

Iconic Peanuts characters to inspire group designer fashion show; auction to follow

August 2, 2007

NEW YORK -- Good grief turns into great fashion relief as MetLife will present a group designer fashion show on Friday, September 7th at 6:00 p.m. as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Many of fashion's favorite designers are confirmed to participate including Heatherette, Isaac Mizrahi, Betsey Johnson and Pamella Roland, among other leading designers from around the world. Each designer will take inspiration from their favorite Peanuts character to create a couture runway outfit, making a bold leap from their black and white sketches to vibrant color.

"Peanuts and the fashion industry have a unique history. Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani, Karl Lagerfeld, Oleg Cassini, Fendi, and countless other fashion notables have designed fashions for Snoopy and his sister, Belle, which have been exhibited in fashion capitals in the U.S., Europe and Japan," said Jeannie Schulz, wife of Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz. "Knowing that Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang inspire amazing creativity, I am filled with curiosity and anticipation to see these 21st-century designs on the runway at MetLifes Snoopy in Fashion event in September."

Following the MetLife Snoopy in Fashion show, Peanuts fans and fashionistas alike will share the opportunity to bid on the designer unique runway creations in an eBay auction. Proceeds from the MetLife Snoopy in Fashion auction will benefit Dress for Success, a non-profit organization which promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.

"A company with a celebrated history of corporate citizenship, MetLife is delighted to be the top dog sponsoring Snoopy in Fashion," said Beth Hirschhorn, senior vice president, Global Brand and Marketing Services, MetLife. "For more than 20 years, Snoopy and the Peanuts gang have embodied the dependability, security and warmth associated with MetLifes brand. As we proudly step onto the catwalk with couture for charity, we recognize the scores of women that Dress for Success benefits and are very pleased to be contributing towards helping them achieve their hopes and dreams -- the ifs in life."

"I love Peanuts because it represents a theme in my childhood to do with not fitting in, with being an outsider," said Isaac Mizrahi. "The Peanuts characters, especially Charlie Brown, made the issue of being different easy to understand and gave it a resolution. The outsiders were as wonderful and glamorous as the insiders."

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