Acts of Kindness
Charlie Brown Was Based On Charlie M. Schulz's Sad Life
He turned his life story into a very famous character that you know and love.
Ryan Aliapoulios

When we were kids, we probably all had a special dream that we hoped to one day accomplish. Our ambitions and dreams as children are often very broad and expansive, with the common belief that if we work hard, we can accomplish whatever we put our minds to. As we get older, many of us start to think that way of thinking is naive or unrealistic. But is it really?

Although we all get discouraged from time to time, the story of a now-famous artist may just change your mind about that.

Born on November 26th in 1922, this little boy soon got the nickname “Sparky.”

Though it didn’t seem particularly significant at the time, his uncle gave him the nickname after a horse named Spark Plug in a cartoon comic strip called Barney Google. As he grew up, Sparky soon realized that school was particularly difficult for him. He didn’t get very good grades and even flunked out of all his classes in 8th grade!

Worst of all, though, was his personal life.

No matter what he did, Sparky couldn’t seem to find a comfortable lane in life growing up.

In his interactions with classmates and girls, he was socially awkward and thought he was a “loser.” Still, despite everything, he tried his best to be ok with himself through it all. Rather than despairing, he poured all his energy into his artwork, which he was very proud of. As a senior, he even submitted some cartoons into the yearbook for publication. Unfortunately, his classmates passed on his designs.

Still, that didn’t stop him.

After he was out of high school, Sparky decided to take his talents elsewhere.

As a fledging artist, he decided to send a letter to Walt Disney Studios explaining his ambitions to work there as an artist and an animator. They asked him to send along some samples of his work which he did, carefully choosing each one to best represent his abilities. Once again, his portfolio was turned down and he wasn’t offered a job. Although this was a severe disappointment, Sparky decided to stay strong and stay focused.

Rather than trying to get a job on his own, he decided to try to make his own way.

Soon after, Sparky started working on some cartoon characters that were based on his own life’s story.

The main character was a little boy who couldn’t seem to do anything right, who was often depressed and didn’t achieve very much in his life. Have you guessed who we’re talking about yet? If you haven’t, the character we’re describing went on to be Charlie Brown of the iconic comic strip, Peanuts!

The little boy in this story, Sparky, grew up to become Charles M. Schulz, one of the most iconic cartoonists of all time!

Despite the many rejections he faced, Schulz believed in his abilities and kept following his dream to do what he wanted to do.

Charlie Brown is known as a “lovable loser,” and his character (along with the many others in Peanuts) went on to be American archetypes that paved the way for many other cartoonists like Bill Watterson. The strip ran from 1950 to 2000 and is still in syndication in newspapers throughout the country. While Schulz’s path was a difficult one, all his denials and rejections built into his artistic journey and created one of the most iconic pieces of American pop art of all time! If you’re working on a creative dream of your own, don’t give up—remember Sparky’s example.

At the very least, now you know a lot more about the history of Charlie Brown and Peanuts!

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By Ryan Aliapoulios
Ryan Aliapoulios is a contributing writer at Shareably based out of Los Angeles. Find him on Twitter @rollyops.