I’ve been drawing Jenny (the character in the third panel) pretty much since I started on Sally Forth. For someone to make a comment like this leads me to believe – first of all that they aren’t too familiar with the strip – but mostly that it’s jarring for them to see someone who’s not white in a comic strip.
Let’s back up: When Charles Schulz introduced Franklin in 1968 it was HUGE, primarily because it was in the height of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement – Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated just months earlier.
In 2018 mainstream comic strips are still weirdly lacking in reflecting the make-up of our country (and Francesco Marciuliano and I are quite aware of this). The idea of a token character is such a cliche these days (see Token Black from South Park) that Francesco has made a point of not introducing our ONE character of “fill in the non-white here” but a variety of characters. We try not to be overt about it, but for some readers, we’re obviously bowing to our liberal overlords and introducing the dreaded “D-word” – DIVERSITY 😱
I could go on, but deadlines are looming…
To wrap up – That Sally Forth NOT having an all white cast in 2018 can somehow be seen as a political statement is a weird way to look at the ink blots I’ve put down – a Rorschach test that says more about the viewer than anything else.
On the eve of his final strip being published, Charles Schulz passed away in his sleep at his home in Santa Rosa, California. He was 77 years old. When he was diagnosed with colon cancer in November of ’99 he decided to end the strip so he could concentrate on getting better. Deciding that the Peanuts comic strip would not continue without him at the helm, Schulz stipulated in his contract that the syndicate could not hire someone else to draw the strip in his place. The last daily appeared on January 3, 2000. The last Sunday, February 13, 2000.
I was fortunate enough to meet Charles Schulz at the Reuben awards in New York back in 1996. Some common ground we shared was that we were both native Minnesotans. When I mentioned that I had just started doing Flash Gordon but it wasn’t in many papers, he responded by saying that when he first started Peanuts he wasn’t in too many papers either.
He was an inspiration to me growing up, not only because of his enormous talent, but because he was a native Minnesotan – someone from the same background who made it, who drew cartoons for a living. When interviewed by Whoopi Goldberg back in the ’90s, Schulz once said, “I always wanted to be suave. Y’know, I’m from Minnesota… there’s no suave people in Minnesota, it’s too cold.”
He may have not considered himself suave, but he was definitely a shining example of someone at the top of his field. Schulz put his whole heart and soul into his art, and because of that, Peanuts is the gold standard of how good a comic strip can be.