Welcome to the five hundred and twelfth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven't been able to update it in a while).This week, did a letter from a reader convince Charles Schulz to introduce an African-American character into Peanuts? Was Spider-Man Unlimted originally intended to be a continuation of the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon series? Finally, were the Team Titans originally intended to become a NEW Teen Titans?
NOTE: The column is on three pages, a page for each legend. There's a little "next" button on the top of the page and the bottom of the page to take you to the next page (and you can navigate between each page by just clicking on the little 1, 2 and 3 on the top and the bottom, as well).
COMIC LEGEND: A reader convinced Charles Schulz to include an African-American character in Peanuts.
As Black History Month comes to a close (be sure to check out our month-long spotlight on comics by African-American creators), I thought it would be nice to spotlight a legend suggested to me last week by longtime reader Gerard M.
On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated. His tragic death inspired a Los Angeles schoolteacher named Harriet Glickman to write Charles Schulz, creator of the ultra-popular Peanuts comic strip, a letter...
Perhaps surprisingly enough, Schulz not only wrote back, but he was very candid in his reasons for not having a black character in the strip...
Glickman, undeterred, used Schulz's response to offer a way that she could allay his fears...
Schulz took her up on her offer.
As you might imagine, Glickman then collected a series of letters from African-American parents and they uniformly told Schulz that they would very much like him to add a black character to the strip.
Finally, Schulz dropped Glickman a note in early July, telling her to keep an eye out on the strips in the last week of the month, as "I have drawn an episode which I think will please you."
Here, then, are the three strips that introduced Franklin to the cast of Peanuts, from July 31-August 2, 1968...
Schulz got some negative reactions from editors and newspapers in the South (especially when he started drawing Franklin as a classmate of Peppermint Patty, as school segregation was still an issue at the time), he just ignored them all, famously telling Larry Rutman, president of the United Features syndicate, after he complained about Franklin, “Well, Larry, let’s put it this way: Either you print it just the way I draw it or I quit. How’s that?”
Very cool story.
Thanks to Gerard for the suggestion, thanks to the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center for posting these letters and thanks to Christine Erickson for her excellent article on this topic last year.
EDITED TO ADD: Here's a video interview with Glickman from last year at the Charles Schulz Museum...
Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed at Spinoff Online: Was the villain Max Schreck in Batman Returns really originally written as Harvey Dent/Two-Face? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
On the next page, was Spider-Man Unlimited originally intended to be a continuation of the 1990s Spider-Man Animated Series?