Jeff Jensen
January 05, 2001 AT 05:00 AM EST

1 CHARLES M. SCHULZ 11.26.1922 — 2.12.2000

— His genius lay in his mastery of the precisely placed squiggle and his ear for the grace notes of failure. A $1.1 billion-a-year empire by his death, Peanuts was nonetheless an intensely personal product for him. The melancholy that haunted Charlie Brown bubbled out of old hurts that marked Schulz deeply: the high school yearbook staff who scoffed at his art, the redhead who rejected his marriage proposal. As he wrote in 1980: ”You can’t create humor out of happiness.” ESSENTIAL WORKS Various treasuries, including Now, That’s Profound, Charlie Brown (1999)

2 GIL KANE 4.6.1926 — 1.31.2000

— A journeyman penciler who worked on hundreds of characters over 50 years, notably Green Lantern and The Atom. In 1990, Kane realized a long-held ambition: a comic adaptation of Wagner’s Ring cycle. ESSENTIAL WORK The Green Lantern Archives Vol. 2 (2000)

3 EDWARD GOREY 2.25.1925 — 4.15.2000

— Gorey was a pen-and-ink Poe, filling more than 100 books with sinister whimsy. In 1977, he also won a Tony for his scenic design for Dracula. His ashes were scattered at sea on a rainy day — pleasant weather in Gorey’s world. ESSENTIAL WORK Amphigorey (1972)

4 JEFF MACNELLY 9.17.1947 — 6.8.2000

— He won three Pulitzers skewering politicos — not bad for a college dropout. Though MacNelly also penned a strip for the funny pages, Shoe, the op-ed pages were his true roost. ”When it comes to humor,” he once said, ”there’s no substitute for reality and politicians.” ESSENTIAL WORK Shoe Goes to Wrigley Field (1988)

5 CARL BARKS 3.27.1901 — 8.25.2000

— Though he could never sign his name to his comics, per Walt Disney’s rules, Barks was a legend. After starting as a Disney animator, he switched mediums in 1942 and poured his ingenuity into Donald Duck comics for 24 years. Revered among comics cognoscenti, his paintings fetch upwards of $500,000. ESSENTIAL WORK Donald Duck (1987)

6 DON MARTIN 5.18.1931 — 1.6.2000

— A Martin strip usually began with a line like ”One Day at the Dentist’s Office,” before diving into the toilet. His slapsticky jokes and sound effects (SPLOP!) earned him a rep as MAD’s ”maddest cartoonist.” A mild-mannered man, Martin had only one giveaway — a license plate that read: SHTOINK! ESSENTIAL WORK Don Martin Forges Ahead (1989)

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