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Sparky Awards

The Sparky Award is named in honor of Charles “Sparky” Schulz, the creator of Peanuts. Schulz was nicknamed “Sparky” after the horse Sparkplug featured in the comic strip Barney Google. The Cartoon Art Museum would not exist without benefactors like Sparky and Jeannie Schulz.

The award celebrates the significant contributions of cartoon artists who embody the talent, innovation, and humanity of Schulz, and it is presented on behalf of the Cartoon Art Museum and the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Library.

Past Recipients of The Sparky Award


Jerry Robinson
1922-2011.  Comic book artist, historian. Robinson began his career in comics as Bob Kane’s assistant on the Batman comic book in 1939.  The prolific artist was uncredited for his work, which included the creation of Batman’s sidekick, Robin and his archnemesis, the Joker.  Among his body of work are multiple syndicated comic strips, a highly-regarded history of the comic book industry called The Comics, a distinguished career as an illustrator, and launching the Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate/CartoonArts International in 1978.
2011
Mort Walker Cartoonist, creator Beetle Bailey, founder of The International Museum of Cartoon Art.  Mort Walker’s comic strip Beetle Bailey is read daily by 200 million readers in over 1,800 newspapers.  Walker’s studio was so prolific that it was jokingly referred to as “King Features East,” since its output once rivaled that of the entire King Features Syndicate. 2010
Gene Colan 1926-2011.  Comic book artist. Colan’s shadowy, film-inspired work is unmistakable, and his colleagues and editors agree that he is one of the most inimitable creators in comic book history. His career highlights include notable stints on such diverse titles as Daredevil, Iron Man, Howard the Duck, Tomb of Dracula, Captain America, Doctor Strange, Batman and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. 2008
Creig Flessel 1912-2008.  Cartoonist and illustrator. Creig Flessel illustrated some of the earliest American comic books in the 1930s, including the first issues of the long-running Detective Comics. He went on to an award-winning career in illustration in the 1950s, illustrated comic strips and other syndicated features throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and illustrated the popular Playboy feature “Baron von Furstinbed” in the 1980s. 2007
Will Eisner 1917-2005.  Cartoonist and educator.  Will Eisner is best known for his groundbreaking comic book The Spirit, his career as a graphic novelist from the 1970s through the early 2000s, and Comics and Sequential Art and other informational texts for cartoonists. Eisner’s seminal work A Contract with God, published in 1978, is generally acknowledged as the forerunner of the modern graphic novel. The Eisner Award, the comic industry’s equivalent of the Academy Award, was named in his honor. 2001
Phil Frank 1943-2007.  Cartoonist.  Phil Frank is the creator of Farley comic strip, which ran for over 20 years in the San Francisco Chronicle. Frank illustrated dozens of guidebooks for the California State Parks System, and was noted for his charity work in the Bay Area and Yosemite. 2001
Lou Grant 1920-2001.  Political and editorial cartoonist. Grant’s cartoons were featured in the Oakland Tribune for over 30 years, and also appeared frequently in the Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Time Magazine. 2001
Gary Larson Creator of The Far Side single panel cartoon. Larson’s fondness for science and offbeat sense of humor have made him a favorite of cartoon fans and scientific professionals alike. 2001
Bill Melendez 1916-2008.  Animator, head of Bill Melendez Productions. Melendez began his career as an animator in the 1930s, working for such major studios as Walt Disney and UPA. In 1964, he collaborated with Charles Schulz on the Emmy Award-winning special A Charlie Brown Christmas. Melendez and Schulz continued to work together for decades, creating 75 specials and four feature-length movies. 2001
John Severin 1921-2012.  Comic book artist. Severin is best known for his illustration work for seminal 1950s publisher EC Comics, including Two-Fisted Tales and the earliest issues of Mad. He has illustrated dozens of comic books for Marvel and DC, including The Incredible Hulk, Sgt. Fury, Semper Fi’, Rawhide Kid and Bat Lash, and spent many years as the signature artist for Mad’s chief rival, Cracked Magazine. 2001
Ward Kimball 1914-2002.  Academy Award-winning animator for Walt Disney Studios. Kimball was known as one of one of Walt Disney’s “Nine Old Men,” and worked on some of Disney’s most beloved feature films, including Fantasia, Bambi and Dumbo. 2000
Stan Lee Writer and co-creator of several of the most popular comic book characters of all time. Lee, along with collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, created such enduring characters as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, and The Incredible Hulk, among dozens of others published by Marvel Comics. 2000
Morrie Turner Creator of Wee Pals comic strip. Wee Pals’ racially-diverse cast of characters has been in syndication for over 40 years. Morrie Turner was the first nationally-syndicated African-American cartoonist. He remains actively involved in educational programs and charities throughout the Bay Area. 2000
Sergio Aragones Cartoonist. Aragones is a prolific and popular cartoonist best known for his 40-plus years as a regular contributor to Mad Magazine and as co-creator (with writer Mark Evanier) of the creator-owned barbarian Groo The Wanderer. He has won many of the most prestigious awards in the comic book industry and is a member of the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. 1999
Gus Arriola 1917-2008.  Creator of Gordo comic strip. Gordo is highly regarded among comics fans and scholars for its visual inventiveness and deft wordplay, Arriola’s comic was the first nationally syndicated strip to feature Hispanic characters as the central cast. 1999
Carl Barks 1901-2000.  Comic book creator, animator. Barks is known to several generations of fans as “The Good Duck Artist” for his memorable tenure as writer and artist of the adventures of Uncle Scrooge (a Barks creation), Donald Duck, and their nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie. Barks’s work is especially popular in Europe, and reprints of his work are perennial best-sellers overseas. 1999
Dale Messick 1906-2005.  Creator of Brenda Starr comic strip. Messick was the first female syndicated comic strip artist in the United States. Her strip Brenda Starr, featuring an intrepid girl reporter, was syndicated in over 250 papers in the 1950s. Brenda Starr remains in syndication today, nearly 70 years since its initial debut. 1999
Chuck Jones 1912-2002.  Animator, Director. Jones is highly regarded as one of the most respected and talented animation directors in history. He is best known for his work for the Warner Bros. Studios, particularly on Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd (and any combination of the three). His body of work also includes a directorial stint on MGM’s Tom & Jerry, MGM’s feature film The Phantom Tollbooth, and the beloved holiday classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, a collaboration with children’s book author Dr. Seuss. 1998
John Lasseter Animator and director John Lasseter is one of the pioneers of computer animation. He created a number of influential and groundbreaking short films throughout the 1980s, and first gained global recognition when he directed Toy Story for Disney-Pixar, the first feature-length computer animated film. He is currently the Chief Creative Officer for Disney-Pixar, overseeing the world’s largest animation studio. 1998
Charles Schulz 1922-2000.  The creator of the Peanuts comic strip. Schulz launched Peanuts in October, 1950, in a handful of newspapers. Within a decade, Charlie Brown, Snoopy and friends were among the most recognizable cartoon characters in the entire world. No matter how popular he and his comic became, Schulz remained a humble, altruistic man, known for his generosity toward his fellow artists, fans, and countless charities. 1998