Charles Schulz Comic Book Legends Revealed

This articlewas takend from the coulmn Comic Book Legends Revealed and is about one of my hero’s Charles Schulz and his sensitivy and bravery at a dificult time in our history

franklin-comic-august-2-1968

COMIC LEGEND: A reader convinced Charles Schulz to include an African-American character in Peanuts.

STATUS: True

As Black History Month comes to a close (be sure to check out our month-long spotlight on comics by African-American creators), I thought it would be nice to spotlight a legend suggested to me last week by longtime reader Gerard M.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. His tragic death inspired a Los Angeles schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman to write Charles Schulz, creator of the ultra-popular Peanuts comic strip, a letter…

Harriet-Glickman-first-letter-peanuts

Perhaps surprisingly enough, Schulz not only wrote back, but he was very candid in his reasons for not having a black character in the strip…

Charles-Schulz-1-peanuts

Glickman, undeterred, used Schulz’s response to offer a way that she could allay his fears…

Harriet-Glickman-second-response

Schulz took her up on her offer.

Charles-Schulz-3-peanuts

As you might imagine, Glickman then collected a series of letters from African-American parents and they uniformly told Schulz that they would very much like him to add a black character to the strip.

Finally, Schulz dropped Glickman a note in early July, telling her to keep an eye out on the strips in the last week of the month, as “I have drawn an episode which I think will please you.”

Here, then, are the three strips that introduced Franklin to the cast of Peanuts, from July 31-August 2, 1968…

Franlin-comic-July-31-1968

Franklin-comic-August-1-1968

franklin-comic-august-2-1968

Schulz got some negative reactions from editors and newspapers in the South (especially when he started drawing Franklin as a classmate of Peppermint Patty, as school segregation was still an issue at the time), he just ignored them all, famously telling Larry Rutman, president of the United Features syndicate, after he complained about Franklin, “Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”

Very cool story.

Thanks to Gerard for the suggestion, thanks to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center for posting these letters and thanks to Christine Erickson for her excellent article on this topic last year.

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