There was a real little red-haired girl (Donna Mae Johnson) in Charles M. Schulz's life. He loved her and proposed marriage to her. He pledged to create a comic strip and take care of her for the rest of his life. Her family begged to differ, they thought he was a loser. She later married a firefighter. A dejected Schultz retooled his gag panel comic "Lil' Folks" into a daily tale of a perpetual loser that everybody despises. The semi-autobiographical strip caught fire and still keeps burning.
Said Schulz of the relationship, "I can think of no more emotionally damaging loss than to be turned down by someone whom you love very much. A person who not only turns you down, but almost immediately will marry the victor. What a bitter blow that is."