In the 1970s, I developed a comic strip called “The Woks” (later renamed “Potstickers”), which some say was a Chinese American version of Charles M. Schulz’s “Peanuts,” about a young boy named Chung, his younger siblings, his friends, a dragon and a philosopher named Buddha. It was submitted to all the major syndicates in the United States but ultimately rejected.
I finally signed a contract with TransWorld News Service in Washington, D.C., in 1977, but before they could distribute the comic strip, the news agency filed for bankruptcy, and I was never able to resell it.
After settling down in Orinda, CA in the early 80's I tried to make connections with local cartoonists, graphic designers, etc., and often met them in small bars in San Francisco. Many times, nationally well-known artists would be joining us as guest speakers and one of them turned out to be Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. He became friends with our impromptu group.
Schulz passed away in 2000 and Charles M. Schulz Museum opened in 2002. I was invited to the Special Preview of Schulz’s Museum in Santa Rosa in August of 2002, two days before its opening to the public. The museum is a 27,384 square foot, two-story, contemporary structure with permanent and temporary galleries. In addition to Schulz’s works, there are 17 feet by 22 feet mural designed by a Japanese artist Yoshiteru Otani, which features an image of Lucy holding a football for Charlie Brown and is composed of 3,588 Peanuts comic strip images printed on individual 2"x8" ceramic tiles.
Immediately following the preview was a dinner hosted by the National Cartoonists Society (NCS). The dinner was held at Fountain Grove Inn in Santa Rosa with around 150 guests including many well-known cartoonists. I was extremely honored to sit with Mrs. Jean Schulz and we shared many fond memories of Schulz.
Dick, Rocky and Jean Schulz in Santa Rosa, CA. 8/15/2002
Later my editorial cartoon in Sing Tao Daily commemorating Schulz’s accomplishments was collected by the museum in 2002.
It’s a tradition at the end of dinner that Schulz would distribute prints of Peanuts strips with the 4th frame blank for guests to complete as a competition, and I won one of the prizes!