The Good and the Grief

Charles Schulz's Peanuts, about to retire after five decades, made loneliness and anxiety funny

It seems only appropriate that cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, 77 and recently diagnosed with colon cancer, should decide to retire Peanuts in winter. It's the setting of so many of the strips (the last daily one will appear Jan. 3) and the season that best captures his graceful art and playful yet melancholy spirit. Perhaps it's because the lyrical, jazz-inflected animated special A Charlie Brown Christmas remains Yuletide TV's high point after 34 years. Perhaps it's because the snowscapes of Schulz's youth in Minnesota, America's Scandinavia, were the most evocative setting for his wry, unsentimental, slightly Bergmanesque take on childhood's pleasures...

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