Within days of Schulz’s birth on Nov. 26, 1922, an uncle nicknamed the infant after the laughable racehorse Spark Plug, a trending character in the newspaper’s funny pages. The nickname “Sparky” and Schulz’s ties to the comics stuck for life. Schulz’s “Peanuts” became the most popular and successful comic strip in the history of the medium. Its characters, including Charlie Brown and Snoopy, became some of the best-known and most-beloved characters in all of American art and literature, gaining worldwide adoration through the comic strip itself, then via books, greeting cards, television, cinematic films, advertising campaigns, a Broadway musical, and countless other media and products. Charles Monroe Schulz (1922-2000) was born in Minneapolis and grew up in neighboring St. Paul, MN. An only child, the avid reader with a knack for drawing was promoted from third grade directly to fifth. Consequently, he was younger and smaller than his classmates, forever feeling like an outsider and an observer. At age 14, Schulz’s first published drawing appeared in the popular newspaper feature “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” Its subject, his eccentric pet dog, would later serve as his inspiration for Snoopy. After high school, Schulz furthered his art education through a Minneapolis-based correspondence course. When World War II intervened, Schulz was drafted into the Army, serving in France and Germany, and rising to the rank of staff sergeant. After the war, he returned to the correspondence school, this time as an art instructor, where his friends included a fellow teacher named Charlie Brown. Schulz also found work lettering comic books and drawing single-panel cartoons for a local newspaper. He also sold several cartoons to the Saturday Evening Post. “Peanuts” debuted in seven newspapers on Oct. 2, 1950. That number would eventually balloon to more than 2,600, in some 75 countries and 21 languages, with 355 million readers worldwide. Schroeder, Lucy, Linus, and Pigpen soon joined Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Through its cast of children, the strip found humor in life’s often painful realities, such as insecurity and unrequited love. In the late 1950s, Charlie Brown’s baby sister, Sally, joined the cast, and Schulz and his growing real-life family moved to Sonoma County, CA, eventually building an ice arena in Santa Rosa. (The adjacent Charles M. Schulz Museum opened in 2002.) As “Peanuts” became a worldwide phenomenon — with beloved television specials, books, a Broadway show, feature films, and countless consumer products — Schulz added other favorite characters, including Peppermint Patty, Franklin, Marcie, and Snoopy’s bird companion, Woodstock. NASA sought Charlie Brown and Snoopy as morale-building mascots. In 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts orbited the moon in paired spacecraft called Charlie Brown and Snoopy. Schulz’s characters all reflect aspects of the cartoonist’s inner life, rich imagination, and great humanity. Charlie Brown faces constant defeat and rejection, but never loses his resolve — whether it’s to kick the football before Lucy pulls it away, to get a kite aloft, or to win a single baseball game. For five decades, Schulz steadfastly wrote, drew, inked, and lettered every “Peanuts” strip — nearly 18,000 of them. On Feb. 12, 2000, he died following a battle with cancer. The final installment of “Peanuts,” a farewell from the cartoonist to his fans and his unforgettable cast of characters, appeared in newspapers the next day. In addition to the many awards received during his lifetime, Schulz was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor bestowed by Congress, in 2000. “Peanuts” continues through the re-publication of his unparalleled body of work.