Charles M. Schulz was born November 25, 1922, in Minneapolis. His destiny was foreshadowed when an uncle gave him, at the age of two days, the nickname Sparky (after the racehorse Spark Plug in the newspaper strip Barney Google).In his senior year in high school, his mother noticed an ad in a local newspaper for a correspondence school, Federal Schools (later called Art Instruction Schools). Schulz passed the talent test, completed the course, and began trying, unsuccessfully, to sell gag cartoons to magazines. (His first published drawing was of his dog, Spike, and appeared in a 1937 Ripley's Believe It or Not! installment.) Between 1948 and 1950, he succeeded in selling 17 cartoons to the Saturday Evening Postas well as, to the local St. Paul Pioneer Press, a weekly comic feature called Li'l Folks. It was run in the women's section and paid $10 a week. After writing and drawing the feature for two years, Schulz asked for a better location in the paper or for daily exposure, as well as a raise. When he was turned down on all three counts, he quit.He started submitting strips to the newspaper syndicates. In the spring of 1950, he received a letter from the United Feature Syndicate, announcing their interest in his submission, Li'l Folks. Schulz boarded a train in June for New York City; more interested in doing a strip than a panel, he also brought along the first installments of what would become Peanutsand that was what sold. (The title, which Schulz loathed to his dying day, was imposed by the syndicate.) The first Peanuts daily appeared October 2, 1950; the first Sunday, January 6, 1952.Diagnosed with cancer, Schulz retired from Peanuts at the end of 1999. He died on February 13, 2000, the day before Valentine's Dayand the day before his last strip was publishedhaving completed 17,897 daily and Sunday strips, each and every one fully written, drawn, and lettered entirely by his own handan unmatched achievement in comics.
Matt Groening (b. 1954) is an Emmy Award-winner, best known for co-creating animated TV series such as The Simpsons and Futurama. He also cartooned a long-running alt-weekly strip called Life In Hell, for which he won a Rueben.
Jonathan Franzen is a National Book Award and James Tait Black Memorial Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.