I was 12 years old. I was traveling with my family across country and we stopped in one of those places you stop at when you travel across country (I guarantee it was Stuckey’s). I was looking for something to keep me busy while I wasted time in the back seat of the car. I found a rack full of these little books by the checkout counter. These little books had little drawings in them. Drawings of kids and a dog and a yellow bird. Pages and pages of them. I bought two of them for the road. I read them over and over and over again throughout the trip, and beyond.

These books were my introduction into the world of Peanuts comics. I mean, I’d seen Peanuts in the Sunday funny papers and I had watched the TV specials for year. I knew who they were, but I’d never seen them in this environment. All in one place.

I was hooked. But not for the reasons you might think.

You’ll hear a lot of comic strip artists tell you how they were and are inspired by the art and comedy of Charles Schulz. How it got them interested in comic strips, how it influenced their own writing and drawing style, and how he was the catalyst for their them starting their own strips. But for me, it was different. I was more intrigued by the idea that someone could build a world of imaginary people and characters illustrating stories and jokes. That’s what I got out of Sparky’s contribution. That’s what I wanted to do.

It took me years to get there, but with Flatt Bear, I was able to see my 12 year old dream finally come true. All started by a few little Peanut comic collection books in the back of a car, while traveling across country.

November 26th marked Charles Schulz’s 100th birthday. To celebrate that day, many cartoonists paid tribute through their strips, appearing in newspapers around the world and the web. Since my strip doesn’t run on Saturdays, I chose to pay tribute two days later.

I don’t think he’ll mind.

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