Charles Schulz - Early Promise
Just as Beethoven betrayed his genius at an early age, Charles Schulz's unique talent was also expressed as a youngster. In the 1975 book Peanuts Jubilee, Schulz wrote:
"It may have been on the first day of kindergarten, or at least during the first week, when the teacher handed out big crayons and huge sheets of white wrapping paper and told us to lie on the floor and draw something. Several of my mother's relatives had recently moved from the Twin Cities [Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota] to Needles, California, and I had heard my mother reading a letter from one of them telling of the sandstorms in Needles and also describing the tall palm trees. So when the teacher told us to draw whatever came to our minds, being familiar with the Minnesota snowstorms I drew a man shoveling snow, but then added a palm tree to the background.
"I recall being somewhat puzzled when I was drawing the snow shovel because I was not quite sure how to put it in proper perspective. I knew that drawing the shovel square was not quite right, but I didn't know how to solve the problem. At any rate, it didn't seem to bother the teacher. She came around during the project, looked down at my drawing and said, 'Someday, Charles, you're going to be an artist.'
"Later, as a senior in high school in 1940, Schulz created the remarkable series of drawings seen here for his illustration class. The drawings demonstrate his creativity and versatility as a teenager. Schulz also described this class assignment in Peanuts Jubilee:
"One day [the teacher, Miss Paro] told us to draw anything we could think of in groups of three. Somehow, this was to stimulate our imaginations. I swung into the project with great enthusiasm. I filled the eleven-by-fourteen-inch sheet of paper with all sorts of little cartoons, and it is interesting today to look back at that project and see how I was affected by the times and by what was going on in my life. The telephones were the old-fashioned type. I drew three little Hitlers [and three swastikas - England had declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939 about six months before this class assignment; the United States entered World War II after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941], three Wheaties cereal boxes, three barber poles - because of my father [who was a barber] - and various sports equipments.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable project ... I handed in the paper proudly. Twenty-five years later, I received a rather thick envelope in the mail, and when I opened it I couldn't believe my eyes. There was the sheet of paper on which I had drawn those very cartoons in groups of threes. A little note from Miss Paro explained that she frequently saved some of the work of her students, and she thought I might be interested in having it."
Drawings: Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center