How Your Kids Can Save Snoopy From the Death of Print

Jeanne Sager
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peanuts 60Throw Snoopy on a t-shirt, and any grade-schooler in America knows who he is. But how? Kids aren't reading newspapers.

The statisticians show them consuming media all day long, but that's Facebook, video games, and TV. Just one in four kids reads the newspaper.

So how has Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang endured 60 years after Charles Schulz drew his first four-panel strip in October 1950?

The Stir asked Schulz's daughter, Jill Schulz Transki, for some insight -- and what she said may explain how the kids' classics will survive even if (when?) print dies.

My daughter sometimes reads the Sunday morning comics with my dad, but a lot of households don't get a newspaper anymore -- is that a challenge for you guys to keep Peanuts out there?

It is, actually. Surprisingly not as many newspapers ... well, originally after my dad passed away ... everyone was predicting that all the newspapers were going to drop the strip and nobody would read re-runs.

It's been quite the opposite. Not only did the strip continue, only a handful dropped the strip. So as far as that, the interest is still out there.

But because of the way the world is changing, everything is online now. Even my husband -- we get the newspaper, but he's already read it on his iPad every morning. I think that will be a challenge, but what I predict is that we'll just switch it over into formats in online newspapers and online subscriptions.

But I think it's challenging not only for the comic strips but for everyone in paper/print.

I took my daughter to the pediatrician the other day, and they had a box of Peanuts Band-Aids. They said, "Oh, she won't know this, that's for the older kids." She said, "It's Charlie Brown!"

That's great. That's funny they would say it for the bigger kids. I think the little kids know who it is. It's funny because for people knowing the characters -- what I didn't know for the longest time -- Snoopy, who is probably even more popular in the Asian countries, became popular as an American pop culture icon before they ever saw the strips.

It wasn't like there was a comic strip and then the merchandise. It was the other way around.

Our kids seem to be looking at it that way too.

Peanuts
Aaron Transki, Kylie Transki, Jill Schulz Transki and Tyler Transki.
They seem to think the characters and the strip] as two totally different things.

I just read the new Great Pumpkin book you put out. Is that the new direction -- putting the specials in book form to keep them alive?

Yes. The publishers are really big on that, even starting about 10 years ago the publishers came to us. They will continue to do that because it keeps the younger generation knowing about the specials.

It's also nice as a parent to watch a show with a kid and have a written version to remind them what you see on TV comes from something written.

They're so programmed to sit down and watch the fast-paced cartoons that if they have something to refer back to and know it did come from a book they start to understand the whole thing.

Is there anything else in the works?

We've been approached several times about movies and this and that, but we're being very careful because we don't want anyone to try to create their own dialogue or who these characters will be. We want to keep the integrity of my dad's wishes that nobody would ever draw the strip.

Why do you enjoy still working with the strip even now?

It keeps a little bit of my dad alive especially with things like the 60th anniversary coming up. I help choreograph the extreme sports shows and work with the ice shows and at the theme parks as well, and to see all the characters out there and to see my kids being proud of their grandfather is a fun thing.

It's always a little heartwarming to have people say, "I didn't know your dad was Charles Schulz, I was a big fan."

Are your kids Peanuts fans?


Images via Peanuts


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