Many people say that "Peanuts" hasn't been as funny the last few years as it used to be. As if that mattered.
The venerable comic strip could be called an American institution, but that's too cold a term. It is really one of America's best friends. And when the last newly drawn strip appears Sunday, Feb. 13, the loss of that friend will be painfully felt.
"Peanuts" creator Charles M. Schulz, who still goes by his childhood nickname, "Sparky," would be the last person to claim to have such impact. He is probably the most unpretentious artist to have ever picked up a pen.
But the secret of Sparky's success directly relates to that quiet modesty. Regularly reading "Peanuts" is like a casual, daily dialogue with a caring neighbor. Schulz always has something interesting to say and he doesn't take up much time.
America never thought much about it, but our familiarity with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy and the rest of the "Peanuts" gang represents the longest on-going relationship the country has ever had. And each of these characters is really just Sparky in a different guise.
Unfortunately, he recently gave us some sad news. He's got colon cancer and has to quit work. This is just plain difficult to accept. We had simply assumed that his daily visits would never stop and thoughtlessly took him for granted. Now, we are forced to acknowledge how important he is and how much we'll miss him.
Of course, we can't completely let go. Repeat strips will continue to run. But it just won't be the same. Good 'ol Sparky Schulz won't go on forever, but our affection for him will.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.