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PEANUTS NEWS

Snoopy pin2 Susanne Cervenka at Florida Today reports that the family of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz donated a 5-foot-tall Snoopy statue to NASA, honoring the space program's 50th anniversary. For 40 years, Snoopy has been the mascot for NASA's Space Flight Awareness Program, an award that recognizes employees' contributions to the space flight success. Less than 1 percent of NASA employees are honored with the "Silver Snoopy," a pin that is flown in space and is awarded by an astronaut. Craig Schulz, the youngest son of the late cartoonist, said his father called the partnership with NASA one of the two most important things in his career. The other was his service in World War II. The 600-pound polyurethane statue depicts Schulz's well-known beagle standing on the moon, donning a spacesuit and holding a helmet.

Snoopy is making the rounds of museums and galleries in an exhibit entitled “Snoopy WWI
Flying Ace.” Despite occasional claims in promotions, no original art is on the wall: all the strips are “digitally reproduced from original art.” Copies, in other words. Snoopy first took to the skies in his Sopwith Camel on October 10, 1965 (it sez here on the wall plaque) and subsequently appeared in 400 strips over 34 years, the last published on November 28, 1999. Although some readers saw an allusion to Vietnam in the Flying Ace strips, Schulz didn’t. At first. Later, though, when he saw the possible connection, he stopped sending Snoopy into the blue for a while. “We were suddenly realizing that this was such a monstrous war,” Schulz said once, “ — it didn’t seem funny. So I stopped doing it.” Snoopy took flight again some years later, but not into combat. “I didn’t do him fighting the Red Baron,” Schulz said. “Mostly, it was sitting in a French café flirting with the waitress.”

PNUTS vol 11 The latest Peanuts reprint from Fantagraphics takes the strip through 1972 (325 6.5x8-inch pages, b/w; hardcover, $28.99), the 11th volume, now at the brink of the half-way point in the publication project.  This volume’s Foreword is a short interview with Kristin Chenoweth, the “pint-sized” actress who won a Tony playing Charlie Brown’s sister Sally in the 1998-99 revival of the musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.” She never met Schulz, but he sent her flowers when she won the Tony “and told me I was born to play Sally.” The only other comics character she aspires to play is Betty Boop. In this volume, Snoopy maintains his membership in the Beagle Book Club and betrays an admiration for Helen Sweetstory’s series of books about the six Bunny-Wunnies, and he assumes various “Joe” identities — Joe Cool, Joe Eskimo, Joe Family, Joe French, Joe Rock, the “world famous swimmer” who, immediately upon contact with the water, sinks. Like a rock.

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