Charles Monroe “Sparky” Shultz

by | May 21, 2007 | Perseverance, Persistence

Once upon a time there was a little boy named Sparky. At least that’s what his classmates called him. He was given the nickname in honor of a comic strip horse named Spark Plug. Sparky hated the name. But name-calling was the least of his worries.

School was tough for Sparky. His favorite subjects were recess and lunch. He failed every single subject in eighth grade. High school was no better. He flunked algebra, English, Latin, and physics. In fact, to this day he holds the record for the lowest physics marks in his school. Sports weren’t much of an improvement. He made the school’s golf team, but his poor play ended up costing his team the championship.

Sparky was a loser when it came to friendships too. No one seemed to notice him. He was astonished if a classmate said hello. Afraid of rejection, he never asked a girl out. Instead, he devoted himself to the one thing he really enjoyed: drawing cartoons. No one thought they were any good, but that didn’t stop him. He practiced on binders and scribblers, and by the time he was a senior in high school, he got up the nerve to submit some cartoons to the yearbook staff.

They were rejected.

After graduating from high school, Sparky wrote a letter to Walt Disney Studios inquiring about job opportunities. He received a form letter requesting samples of his artwork. The letter asked him to draw a funny cartoon of “a man repairing a clock by shoveling the springs and gears back inside it.” Sparky drew the cartoon and mailed it off with his fingers crossed. He waited anxiously for a reply. Finally it came. Another form letter spelling out rejection.

Sparky was disappointed but not surprised. He had always been a loser. This was just one more loss. Looking in the mirror one day, he smiled with the realization that in a weird sort of way, his life was funny. Almost like a cartoon character. Then a thought hit him. Why not tell his own story? Why not draw cartoons of the misadventures of a little boy loser, a chronic underachiever? He had no idea where his idea would take him.

This boy who failed the eighth grade, the young artist whose work was rejected by his own yearbook, was Charles Monroe “Sparky” Schultz-creator of the Peanuts comic strip and the little boy whose kite never quite flies.

You know him as Charlie Brown.

Callaway, Phil. Laughing Matters. Oregon: Multnomah Publishers, 2005, p. 97-98.


Charles Monroe “Sparky” Shultz