As beloved as Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts gang has been since first appearing as a newspaper comic strip in 1950, there has always been an underlying issue with the franchise that is rarely discussed and that has never been remedied in the last 71 years: it’s lack of Latine characters. If you’re a Peanuts historian, you probably already knew that the voice behind Snoopy and Woodstock was provided by the late Mexican-American character animator, film director, and producer José Cuauhtémoc “Bill” Meléndez. If you dig even deeper, you’ll find some more Latine roots.
Meet Dolores & José, the Latine Peanuts characters you never knew existed. Dolores was a little girl of unknown Latin American heritage who was created in 1979. Unfortunately, she never found her way to the comics section of the newspaper or on the big or small screen. Instead, Dolores was made for a series of filmstrips, a type of multimedia used from the 1940s – 1980s before videotape. These particular filmstrips were produced for use in schools by the company Charlie Brown’s Career Education Venture, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.
Nearly 40 years after she was created, Dolores was included in the 2018 mobile game Snoopy’s Town Tale, although she is still arguably an unknown Peanuts character.
Most Peanuts fans haven’t heard the name José Peterson either, although the half-Mexican, half-Swedish boy actually made it into the comic strip when he debuted in 1967. In the comic, he joins Charlie Brown’s baseball team with Peppermint Patty and has an incredible batting average. His time in the comics was short-lived, however. He made his last appearance two years later.
Like Dolores, José also showed up in Snoopy’s Town Tale and for a silent cameo in the franchise’s most recent theatrical release, 2015’s The Peanuts Movie.
After all these years, isn’t it a bit surprising that the lack of representation in Peanuts hasn’t been addressed in a serious way? It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and A Charlie Brown Christmas are staples in millions of homes and if AppleTV+ decides to give the animated series a second season, here’s to hoping writers add some more characters to the Charlie Brown crew. Because at this point, there’s no excuse for either of these characters to be excluded or have some major screen time if we are to move the needle when it comes to representation across the board.