Snoopy, the creation of cartoonist Charles Schultz for the comic strip Peanuts, is one of the best known and best-loved cartoons on the block, and certainly one of the most iconic pets around.
Schultz once said about him, “Snoopy’s whole personality is a little bittersweet. But he’s a very strong character. He can win or lose, be a disaster, a hero, or anything, and yet it all works out. I like the fact that when he’s in real trouble, he can retreat into a fantasy and thereby escape.”
Snoopy’s popularity took off from the inception of the strip, even though he was originally meant to be somewhat of a minor character, described as just Charlie Brown’s oddball dog. The comic strip started off being called Li’l Folks in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and the newer version, entitled Peanuts didn’t appear until October 2, 1950.
Over the nearly 50 years that the Peanuts gang ruled the newspapers, Schultz took only one vacation, a five-week break to celebrate his 75th birthday. Those five weeks were the first time that reruns had ever appeared in all of the cartoon’s history; quite a feat since Schultz drew nearly 18,000 strips over his lifetime, and all entirely by himself! Today the Peanuts brand as an entity generates over 2 billion dollars a year in revenue, with Snoopy at the forefront.
Snoopy comes from humble beginnings, adopted by Charlie Brown from the Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. He is a bi-colored beagle, black and white, and remembers occasionally with grief his family who remain behind at Daisy Hill. Periodically, he sends his mother cards on Mother’s Day. This is only one of the many unexpected things that Snoopy does that makes him such an original character, and so well-loved by many. For all that Snoopy is perhaps the most famous beagle of all, his most memorable escapades come when he is doing distinctly non-doglike things.
Beyond mailing off Mother’s Day cards, he also plays shortstop on Charlie Brown’s ragtag baseball team, and is considered one of the best players. In addition to playing baseball, Snoopy also passes a short stint trying to become a famous writer; each of his stories begins with the phrase “It was a dark and stormy night” and are constantly rejected by the unseen forces of “The Editors,” who are commonly maligned throughout the strip.
Snoopy is beloved for his iconic cool and self-aware panache, but for a dog who is known for always being himself, he is also loved for his many alter-egos. One lesser known disguise of his is pretending to be a vulture as he surveys Linus and Lucy from above, much to their shared chagrin. His most famous alter-ego, however, is that of the World War One Flying Ace, which he becomes periodically, flying atop his red doghouse transformed into a Sopwith Camel. In these situations, his nemesis is the Red Baron, who was a real WWI flying ace for the Central Powers. German fighter Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, was considered the best flying ace of the time, and is credited with over 80 victories from the air. Not only is the Red Baron a real historical figure, but the Sopwith Camel is a real historical detail; it is the type of fighter jet preferred by the Entente, or Allied Powers in their battles against Germany and the other Central Powers. During these missions, root beer is Snoopy’s drink of choice, and he sometimes flirts with Marcie, turned into a French femme fatale, often shown wearing a beret.
Fittingly enough, with the popularity of this flying persona, NASA used Snoopy’s name on one of their spacecraft. NASA’s last test flight before the Apollo 11 landing of Neil Armstrong borrowed from Peanuts, as Snoopy was the name for the lunar module on the Apollo 10 lunar module. (The command module on the same spacecraft was called Charlie Brown.)
Snoopy’s friendships range far and wide, from all of the Peanuts gang to his brother Spike, who lives in the desert, and the assorted neighborhood birds, of whom Woodstock is the most famous. All of these friendships, eclectic personas, and unexpected activities measure up into Snoopy, the most beloved cartoon dog. His always-original ties on the strip have led him to an even more lasting friendship: one with every reader of the Peanuts gang.
Thanks for the many laughs, Snoopy, and if you ever see your beagle atop his doghouse, make sure to toss around a few balls in honor of Snoopy’s shortstop position, or share a snack in honor of his favorite time of day, SUPPERTIME!