Friday 24 March 2017

Cartoonist Linus Maurer, whose name was used for Peanuts comic strip, dies aged 90

2003 file photo: The real Linus, artist Linus Maurer, cuts a ribbon after unveiling a statue of Linus of
2003 file photo: The real Linus, artist Linus Maurer, cuts a ribbon after unveiling a statue of Linus of "Peanuts" comic strip fame during a ceremony at his hometown of Sleepy Eye, Minn. (John Cross/The Free Press via AP)

Cartoonist Linus Maurer, whose name was used for one of the main characters in the Peanuts comic strip, has died aged 90.

Peanuts creator Charles M Schulz borrowed the first name of his old friend and colleague for Charlie Brown's blanket-wielding best friend Linus.

Maurer died on January 29 in Sonoma, California, his long-time partner Mary Jo Starsiak said. His exact cause of death was not clear, but he had struggled with Parkinson's disease and heart trouble late in life.

About 65 years ago, Maurer and Schulz worked together at Art Instruction Schools in Minneapolis, when Peanuts was getting started.

Schulz told the story in a book celebrating the 50th anniversary of Peanuts.

"Linus came from a drawing that I made one day of a face almost like the one he now has," Schulz wrote.

"I experimented with some wild hair, and showed the sketch to a friend of mine who sat near me at art instruction, whose name was Linus Maurer. It seemed appropriate that I should name the character Linus."

It was a common practice for Schulz, who named many Peanuts characters, including Charlie Brown, after the people that surrounded him.

Schulz, who died in 2000, and Maurer remained lifelong friends, both settling in the same part of Northern California later in life.

There, Maurer drew editorial cartoons for the Sonoma Index-Tribune, which first reported his death.

Maurer had a successful run with comics in his own right, with syndicated strips in the 1960s and 1970s called Old Harrigan, Abracadabra and In the Beginning.

Before that, he had worked as an illustrator for IBM and AT&T in New York and as an art director for the McCann Erickson ad agency and Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco.

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