|A pioneering force in the comic strip industry, Schulz turned his lifelong appreciation of comics and his sensitive, somewhat brooding personality into the highly successful "Peanuts" franchise. Nicknamed "Sparky" after a popular comic strip character, the shy young cartoonist continually doodled during class, receiving encouragement from numerous teachers. After high school, he completed a drawing correspondence course, earning only average marks. He was drafted into World War II service shortly thereafter, where he continued to draw--even decorating soldiers' letters home. After leaving the military, he juggled two jobs, lettering pre-drawn comics and teaching at his alma mater, Art Instruction Schools. Initially selling single-panel cartoons to The Saturday Evening Post in 1948, Schulz sold the "L'il Folks" comic to the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1950, changing the single-panel format to the now common multi-panel comic strip. For competitive reasons, the United Features Syndicate renamed the strip Peanuts," a name Schulz never liked. The newly syndicated comic strip was an immediate success, running eventually in 2000 newspapers worldwide. Schulz has been credited with transforming the cartooning field with his successful books, TV specials, and merchandising deals. Schulz's most prized award throughout his career was the National Cartoonists' Society's Reuben Award for outstanding cartoonist of the year, which he won in 1955 and in 1964. Critical of comic strips with political agendas, Schulz only used "Peanuts" as a political forum once--to protest the proliferation of sexual harassment claims. Otherwise, he steered clear of hot topics, focusing instead on the active imaginations of his dreamy, unfulfilled characters--many situations culled from his real life. Early in his career, Schulz fell in love with a redheaded accountant, Donna Johnson, who turned down his marriage proposal. Rejected, he married shortly thereafter, a relationship that lasted 21 years. Although his second and final marriage was reportedly a happy one, he apparently never forgot the sting of Donna's rejection, eventually immortalizing her in the "Peanuts" comic strip as the unattainable object of Charlie Brown's desire-- the Little Red-haired Girl. Described by close friends as an insecure, sensitive man, he suffered from numerous depressions and anxiety attacks. After receiving a diagnosis of colon cancer, he announced his retirement from the producing the comic strip, claiming that no other artist should determine the "Peanuts" legacy. He died just hours before the last Sunday edition of the "Peanuts" strip ran--the final strip of a 50-year cartooning career.