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Sunday, 13 February, 2000, 11:08 GMT
Peanuts creator dies
Charles Schulz
Charles Schulz retired in November to fight his illness
Charles Schulz, the creator of the world's most famous cartoon strip, has died at the age of 77.

Extraordinarily, his death was announced the very day that his final Peanuts strip appeared in American newspapers.

According to a statement issued by his son, Craig, Mr Schulz died in his sleep on Saturday evening.

The cartoonist was diagnosed with colon cancer and suffered a series of small strokes during emergency abdominal surgery in November, last year.

The Peanuts comic strip first appeared in October 1950. It eventually ran in more than 2,400 newspapers, reaching millions of readers in 68 countries.
Snoopy: A pooch with a penchant for flying
Mr Schulz announced his retirement from the strip a few weeks after undergoing surgery in November.

For nearly 50 years Mr Schulz drew each instalment himself. Most comic strip writers delegate much of the work to assistants.

There will be no more new Peanuts cartoons. Under the terms of Mr Schulz's contract no other artist can take on the strip after his death.

Last edition appears Sunday

The final cartoon begins with Charlie Brown saying on the phone "no, I think he's writing". The next picture shows Snoopy in familiar pose hunched over the typewriter on top of his kennel.

'Dear friends', Snoopy writes, leading on to a farewell letter from Mr Schulz in which the 77-year-old cartoonist thanks his millions of fans for their "wonderful support and love" and says the cartoon was the fulfilment of his childhood ambition.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus, Lucy ... how can I ever forget them ...

Charles Schulz
Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and others may have lived in a state of perpetual childhood but their struggles and their angst were recognisable to adults all over the world, who posted Peanuts cartoons in offices and homes as short parables of modern life.

Global phenomenon

Peanuts appeared in 21 languages generating an annual global revenue of more than $1bn.
And although the world has changed a lot since its first publication, Peanuts has remained a constant.

Charlie Brown, the great American loser, typically responds to the trials life sends him with a despondent "good grief".

His canine pal Snoopy takes regular flights of fancy to the skies of World War I to fight the Red Baron.

The BBC's Nick Higham
"The strip characters appealed to millions"
David Willis reports from Los Angeles
"His death came on the eve of the publication of the very last strip he drew"
See also:

13 Feb 00 | Americas
Charles Schulz: Peanuts' shy creator
13 Feb 00 | Talking Point
Your tributes to the creator of Peanuts
13 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Peanuts consigned to history
15 Dec 99 | Americas
So long, Charlie Brown
15 Dec 99 | Entertainment
Cartoonists honour Schulz
21 Nov 99 | Entertainment
Snoopy creator diagnosed with cancer
06 Oct 98 | Asia-Pacific
Shelling out for Peanuts
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