(Ashburn, Va.) - Sixty-four years ago this October 2nd, Charles Schulz's famed comic strip "Peanuts" appeared for the first time in newspapers nationwide including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Around that same time, Ashby Ponds resident George Fulton first began drawing cartoons while in elementary school. Today, this longtime hobby has become quite a distinguishing feature of Fulton's retirement at the Ashburn retirement community, where his cartoons are in high demand.
While in high school, Fulton drew cartoons for his school newspaper and continued doing so in college at the University of Arizona. Originally an art major, Fulton ultimately switched his focus to business/advertising and continued drawing as a hobby. While he has experimented with many types of media including watercolors, Fulton has found that he still enjoys drawing cartoons the most.
While living in Santa Rosa, Calif. in his early 30s, Fulton drew a 5-piece comic strip. Seeking advice on the comic strip from his friend and fellow cartoonist, Gus Arriola (who drew the Sunday Gordo cartoons), Arriola suggested that he reach out to Charles Schulz. Schulz answered his telephone and the two set up a time to review the comic strip at Schulz's home in Santa Rosa. "We spent an hour together discussing his career with 'Peanuts' and my cartoons," said Fulton. "It was one of my greatest thrills in terms of art."
Schulz penciled-in critiques on Fulton's comic strip; that strip is one of the many Fulton cartoons currently on display in the Ashby Ponds art gallery. "He wasn't happy with my printing," said Fulton. At the top of Fulton's comic strip, Schulz handwrote a suggested font type. Accompanying the showcased comic strip is a letter to Fulton written by Schulz's wife in November 2006 on paper with a distinct Snoopy watermark. At her request, Fulton sent several cartoons for display to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.
The cartoons showcased at Ashby Ponds are just a few of the dozens Fulton has completed. Since he retired, Fulton believes he draws about 20-25 cartoons per year---a significant commitment considering any single cartoon may demand about eight hours of attention. He starts off by sketching with pencil and then uses a small felt-tip pen to provide the outlines. Fulton will then scan the cartoon and utilize Photoshop to sharpen the details before printing and using pencils for shading on his light table at Ashby Ponds.
Fulton notes that while a few of his cartoons were published here and there, he cites that he was not concerned about money or fame when it came to his cartoons. It remains a hobby today, as he draws cartoons for friends, family, and neighbors at Ashby Ponds. "Any proceeds I might receive will go directly to the Benevolent Care Fund," said Fulton. The Benevolent Care Fund at Ashby Ponds provides financial support to residents who, despite careful planning, outlive their financial resources.
In between crafting cartoons and honing his bocce game at Ashby Ponds, Fulton still hopes to visit the Charles M. Schulz Museum one day in honor of the man who left an indelible 'mark' on his work and in his life.
About Ashby Ponds: Ashby Ponds, one of 18 retirement communities managed by Erickson Living, is situated on a scenic 132-acre campus in Ashburn, Virginia (approximately 30 miles west of Washington, D.C.). The community is home to over 750 residents and has over 120 resident-run and resident-driven clubs and groups, an indoor pool, a fitness club, transportation services, 24-hour security, and flexible dining options. More information about Ashby Ponds can be found at www.ericksonliving.com.