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Charlie BrownCharles "Charlie" Brown is the principal character in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.
Charlie Brown was inspired by Schulz’s own life. A third-grade student, Charlie Brown is a lovable loser, possessed of endless determination and stubbornness, but who is ultimately dominated by his anxieties and shortcomings, and is often dominated and taken advantage of by his peers. The best-known example of this is his Little League baseball team: Charlie Brown is the manager of the team and its pitcher, but the team consistently loses (their all-time record is 2–930). Charlie Brown is a terrible pitcher, often giving up tremendous hits which either knock him off the mound or leave him with only his shorts on. The team itself is poor, with only Charlie Brown's dog Snoopy being particularly competent.
Charlie Brown is also an avid kite-flyer, but his kites keep landing in a "Kite-Eating Tree" or suffering even worse fates. Once in 1958, he finally got the kite to fly before it spontaneously combusted in the air. Every autumn his friend Lucy van Pelt promises to hold a football for Charlie Brown to kick, and every year she pulls it away as he follows through, causing him to fly in the air and land painfully on his back. He was only allowed to kick the football once, in the early 1990s. Despite all this, and despite the abuse he often received, Charlie Brown has many friends, the best being Lucy's brother Linus, who may occasionally admonish Charlie Brown, but stands by him. Charlie Brown is also in love with an unseen character known as "the Little Red-Haired Girl", though he rarely has the courage to talk to her, and when he does (encounters which always occur off-panel) it always goes badly.
Charlie Brown is almost always addressed by his full name by other characters in the strip. Two of the exceptions to this are Peppermint Patty, who calls him "Chuck", and her friend Marcie, who calls him "Charles". Some readers interpret this as an indication of the portrayed crushes that both girls have on him, which they both admit to each other in a comic from 1979. Due to Charlie Brown's preoccupation with "the Little Red-Haired Girl", he remains oblivious to their occasional attentions. In particular, he has a tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time, to both of them; Peppermint Patty when she seeks reassurance over her "big nose" and her femininity, and Marcie when she tries to show that she cares about him (once, when asking if Charlie Brown missed her while she was away, got the reply "my cereal's going soggy"). His sister Sally usually calls him "Big Brother", probably because it would be awkward for a member of his own family to use their surname when addressing him. The only other two exceptions are Eudora, who also calls him "Charles", and a minor character named Peggy Jean in the early 1990s who called him "Brownie Charles", because Charlie Brown, in his typical nervous and awkward fashion, flubbed his own name when he introduced himself, and couldn't bring himself to correct the mistake. It was eventually revealed that the first person to have called him "Charlie Brown" was Poochie, a blonde little girl who played with Snoopy as a pup, and who first appeared in the strip on January 7, 1973.
Like all adults in the strip, Charlie Brown's parents are never seen, but sometimes referenced. His father is a barber. His mother is a housewife.
Charlie Brown is drawn with only a small curl of hair at the front of his head, and a little in the back. Though this is often interpreted as him being bald, Charles Schulz explained that he saw Charlie Brown as having hair that was so light that it wasn't seen very well. Snoopy thinks of his owner as "that round-headed kid". He almost always wears black shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, usually yellow, with a black jagged stripe around the middle. Charlie Brown often utters the catch-phrase "Good grief!" when astonished or dismayed. In moments of extreme disappointment or despair he sometimes simply cries out, "Rats!"
Peanuts Sunday strips were often (unofficially) titled Peanuts featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown. Schulz later stated that he had wanted to name the strip Good Ol' Charlie Brown but that the name Peanuts was chosen by the cartoon syndicate instead; as a result, some people inferred that Charlie Brown's name was "Peanuts". Schulz suggested the Sunday title as a clarification device. Charlie Brown and his dog Snoopy.
Charlie Brown was one of the original cast members of Peanuts when it debuted in 1950, and the butt of the first joke in the strip. Aside from some stylistic differences in Schulz’s art style at the time, Charlie Brown looked much the same. He did, however, wear an unadorned T-shirt; the stripe was added within the first year of strips, in order to add more color to the strip.
Initially Charlie Brown was more assertive and playful than his character would later become: He would play tricks on other cast members, and some strips had romantic overtones between Charlie Brown and Patty and Violet. He would cause headaches for adults (knocking all the comic books off their stand at a newsstand, for instance), though he was from the start not especially competent at any skill. (The early side of Charlie Brown popped up in another form: in the 1959 hit "Charlie Brown" by the rock band The Coasters. The titular Charlie Brown of the song gets into mischief by doing typical things such as writing on the walls and shooting off spitballs at school. Like the Peanuts character, this Charlie Brown wonders: "Why is everybody always pickin' on me?")
Charlie Brown soon evolved into the sad sack character he's best known as: Feeling enslaved to the care of Snoopy, beset by comments from everyone around him. Common approaches to the strip's storylines included Charlie Brown stubbornly refusing to give in even when all is lost from the outset (e.g., standing on the pitcher's mound alone on the ballfield, refusing to let a torrential downpour interrupt his beloved game), or suddenly displaying a skill and rising within a field, only to suffer a humiliating loss just when he's about to win it all (most famously, Charlie Brown's efforts to win the statewide spelling bee in the feature-length film A Boy Named Charlie Brown). Charlie Brown never receives Valentines or Christmas cards and only gets rocks when he goes trick or treating on Halloween but never loses hope that he will. His misfortunes garnered so much sympathy from the audience that many young viewers in North America of the Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown and It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown TV specials have sent Valentine cards and halloween candy respectively to the broadcasting television network in an effort to show Charlie Brown they cared for him.
Linus initially appeared as an infant, but as he aged (and Charlie Brown did not) he became a profound philosopher and Charlie Brown's best friend, often supporting each other in small ways when the other's foibles had been painfully exposed (Schroeder and Lucy Van Pelt were also significantly younger than Charlie Brown when they first appeared, but they too aged where he did not, to the point where they became his peers.). Linus was himself a sort of loser like Charlie Brown, due to his inability to let go of his superstitions (his security blanket, belief in the Great Pumpkin, paralyzing stage fright, etc.), so the two had much in common.
In 1959 Charlie Brown's parents produced a girl, Sally, who resembled Charlie Brown in some ways, but with a shock of blonde hair; like Linus, Lucy, and Schroeder, Sally began as an infant but soon became "mature" enough to interact with the other characters on a more-or-less equal basis. Initially Charlie Brown doted on her, though she too became a thorn in his side as she would pester him for help with her homework, and berate him for misunderstanding certain concepts (despite herself being the one in the wrong). Charlie Brown would stoically and guiltily bear this, although sometimes he was able to let Sally dig her own holes without pulling him in with her while very occasionally firmly putting his foot down on truly unacceptable behaviour.
Charlie Brown maintained this demeanor until the strip ended its run in 2000, and classic strips run in many newspapers today. He did have occasional victories, though, such as hitting a game-winning home run on March 30, 1993 and soundly defeating "Joe Agate" in a game of marbles on April 11, 1995. Usually, Charlie Brown was a representative for everyone going through a time when they feel like nothing ever goes right for them; however, Charlie Brown refuses to give up.
Charlie Brown has a pen-pal, but because he uses a fountain pen (rather than ballpoint) and because he has less skill than others at keeping the ink flow under control, he resorts to graphite and starts off the letters, "Dear Pencil Pal". The pen pal's responding letters are never read in the strip, but apparently he or she appreciates Charlie Brown's enough to have them read for others at least once.
Charlie Brown Merchandise
All images and characters depicted on this site are copyright their respective holders, and are used for informational purposes only. No infringement is intended and copyrights remain at source.
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