Of course, Jim Henson‘s handiwork moved us, too, and Disney’s Mary Blair made it feel like a small, colorful world, after all. South Korea’s fierce Robot Taekwon V and China’s “Nezha Conquers the Dragon King” have been tabbed to celebrate animation — why, even the folks from the town of Bedrock yabba-dabba-did it, as “The Flintstones” made a home-page right out of history.
Yes, all those cartoonists and kid-friendly creations have been paid direct tribute by receiving a Google Doodle in their honor. Good grief, Dilbert the cubicle drone squatted in the Doodle space for an entire workweek back in 2002.
Yet one former syndicate-mate of “Dilbert’s” Scott Adams, in particular, has never been paid direct Doodle homage — and neither have his iconic comic characters, who for generations have been enjoyed by hundreds of millions of readers and viewers, in dozens of languages, the world over. Yep, a couple of decades after Google posted its first Doodle, to mark the Burning Man festival, another institution with strong Bay Area roots is still waiting for a shot one fall season to kick Google’s proverbial football:
As the 65th anniversary of “Peanuts” approaches, creator Charles M. Schulz and his beloved comic-strip gang patiently await their day in the Doodled sun. And truly, this year is as fertile and fitting as any to celebrate Charlie Brown and friends.
And so, as an open letter, Comic Riffs urges Google to consider this, our humble new #DoodleSnoopy campaign: It’s time to give Schulz his due.
Now, to be fair, two points must be swiftly addressed. First is that the California tech titan surely gets inundated with Doodle suggestions, and it would take team leader Ryan Germick and his gifted Google Doodle squad a few sleepless decades to get to even half of the deserving historic figures from the past century alone.
And second, Comic Riffs is quick to note that Snoopy has appeared in a Doodle, in 2009, as he and Woodstock made a cameo to help Google celebrate Thanksgiving — but that visual functioned to celebrate a holiday, and didn’t actually salute Schulz and “Peanuts” (missing by a day a chance to toast the late cartoonist’s birthday).
That’s right, this Nov. 26 will mark the 93rd anniversary of the cartoonist’s birth, in Minneapolis (the same month that “The Peanuts Movie” will open). Before that, Oct. 2 will mark the 65th anniversary of the debut of the “Peanuts” comic strip — in fewer than 10 newspapers. And Dec. 9 will mark the golden anniversary of the first broadcast of the first “Peanuts” TV special: the Emmy-winning “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Yes, this season, the occasions to celebrate abound.
I dwell on a #DoodleSnoopy idea today right on the heels of hundreds of thousands of people coming to The Post website over the weekend to read about the story behind the integration of “Peanuts” (in 1968, in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination). This reader interest is just one small barometer that reflects the immense climate of continued connection to “Peanuts” — to its warmth and distilled simplicity, to its depth and emotional complexity. It’s no surprise that its ’60s and ’70s holiday specials still draw viewers by the millions. “Peanuts” perseveres because of its humanity.
That is a warm humanity, as well as a truthful wit, that I — like countless others — first connected with as a child. At that time, my storytelling heroes included Dr. Seuss and Chuck Jones (collaborators on the animated Grinch), and Mark Twain, and Jim Henson, and Charles Schulz. Perhaps because they all could reflect thoughtful human truths while staying in touch with the spirit of childhood. As Henson himself once said: “The most sophisticated people I know — inside they are all children.” And as James Earl Jones intones in the ultimate “fantasy baseball” film “Field of Dreams,” strong memories to a time of young innocence exert a powerful pull, as if those who seek a cleansing return “dipped themselves in magic waters.”
So speaking of fantasy and baseball, and of dreams finally achieved: What about the man who finally, after rendering 43 years of strikeouts, let Charlie Brown hit a home run?
Seuss and Twain and Henson have all been saluted with their own Doodle — can Schulz be far behind?
And this Internet marker of cultural significance is not something, of course, that Schulz would have sought for himself. When I first met Schulz and “Dilbert’s” Adams in the late ’90s, as they shared a table at a cartoonists’ function in California, the “Peanuts” creator — despite a strong streak of professional pride — demurred at the notion of another big honor.
Now, 15 years after his death, it is time.
After all, Schulz has a long personal history with the Google name. As a boy, Schulz was nicknamed “Sparky” by his father, after the character Sparkplug. And Sparkplug, of course, lived in the world of another historic comic strip:
Some past Doodles devoted to artists in pop culture: