I was in the army, at that time, working as staff on the camp newspaper as a cartoonist, illustrator and photographer. A buddy of mine worked as a reporter. We both dreamed up an idea to visit and interview people we admired for an article series, somehow turning it into an army angle. While he and I were on assignment to Ft Ord, California, by way of San Francisco, we realized that Schulz's studio was only an hour drive from our hotel.
We drove up to Santa Rosa and looked for Schulz's famous skating rink and went in for coffee. Talking with the waitress, we explained what our mission was, and she gave us Schulz's phone number, which we promptly called. Sparky himself answered the phone and graciously invited us to come right over to the studio.
His studio was at 1 Snoopy Place and we knocked on the door and he let us in. He was polite, but distant for a few minutes, until I mentioned that I was living in Colorado Springs, and then he brightened up and we talked for close to an hour. It turned out that I lived just a block or so from where he lived about the time I was born. We talked about the army and I showed him some of my drawings which he professed to admire. I was determined not to ask for anything from him, no autograph or drawing (he had already arranged to get me an original Peanuts strip 7 years earlier, for which, now that I had a chance, I thanked him in person).
I had taken a few snapshots of him looking at my drawings, but now I knew it was time to leave before we took too much of his time. I asked him if he would pose for one portrait shot, and then we would go. I was determined to make it only one. And this is the one I got (thank heaven he didn't blink):
I read the recent biography of Schulz (the one a lot of people seemed to think painted a pretty dismal view of the man and his life), and I really liked it, showing the sensitive reality of his private life. I was emotionally moved by it, and appreciate the struggles he had in life, even when he seemed to have it all. How did he get work done when fans like me kept showing up at his door? When I called him Mr. Schulz he said I could call him Sparky.