This post may contain affiliate links.
I went to the last day of the “Good Grief Charlie Brown” exhibition at Somerset House, London. This had been on since October, but with working, life, children and illness I just had not made time to go. It’s a good job I checked on
I am a lifelong Peanuts fan, one of my first pets was called Snoopy (a hamster, sadly not a beagle) and I had all sorts of memorabilia, I had watched the video of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” to death as a kid, as well as “It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown” and “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown”. I had many of the classic little books that are so iconic now, it really was lovely to see these on the tables towards the end of the exhibition, with a bunch of children perched on the little chairs reading them.
As you first enter the Exhibition there was a glass case on the right full of old memorabilia, of which I recognised a great deal! Although I do feel a bit sad that I think I got rid of the Dodgems game I had, as I think my kids would have liked that now I think about it! I think a lot of my Snoopy things came second hand, they must have, there can’t have been that much in the shops, so it’s interesting how much I had considering that!
You got a great look at the drawing implements of Sparky himself, which was wonderful to see. I do wish they still made the pens he used, but the company went out of business in the 70s and he bought up all remaining nib stock as he loved them so much! I just would love to have a go with the nibs he used, pen nerd that I am. On the same display as the nibs were examples of the cardstock he drew the cartoons on, and the pieces were so big! I know it’s crazy of me to not realise that, but I never thought about how big the sheets would be, it’s hard not to just imagine him drawing them the size they appear in the newspaper! It’s no wonder my own cartooning efforts never went far, I’m always drawing in a small space! 😂
Above the lower exhibition space there was a video playing of Schulz himself, drawing all the characters and talking about them. That bit just was so lovely, it was brilliant walking around and looking at the strips, hearing him talking about them all and being able to look up and see him actually in action.
With regards to the strips, even though he had made so many in his life I recognised quite a lot of them. Part of it is going to be me having so many of those little books and some bigger ones too, and partly because I guess they are mainly sharing the classics and I do own anthologies of them. I found myself walking around and laughing my head off at so many of the strips, he was so witty and knew just how to tease out a good scene.
I found myself actually crying at a few points. A lot of the emotion is tied up to feeling so fond and loving these characters so much, it’s a bit like seeing the new Mary Poppins film, when she appears in the sky I couldn’t help but cry my eyes out, it’s all so emotional and you feel like you are 6 years old again. There was one strip in particular that made me cry, but that was different, it was one where Peppermint Patty sees the little red-haired girl and feels so
He dealt with a lot of themes in his comics, and that was so interesting to look at. The exhibition was great as it was grouped by themes, so you could see how he explored feminism, war, politics as well as how expressed different things in his comics, the noises, the frustrations, you can tell by how the lines look and the expressions exactly what is occurring and what is felt by the characters.
There was a cute section where you got to use lightboxes to trace characters and leave your own message on the wall, very busy, everyone wanted to do this bit!
I am now desperately sorry that I was so late to the exhibition, I wish I’d gone the week it opened (and they would have still had guidebooks left! was very sad not to get one!). I want to go and see it again and again, and actually get some advice from the booth, and write my novel starting with “It was a dark and stormy night”. I want to take my picture with the big standees, and I want to take all my friends and show them the world I love. I am going to stick the Schulz museum on my bucket list now, I want to go and see more behind the scenes of this world. Most of all, I’m going to sit with my girls and read them the strips, watch the TV specials, and re-watch the recent movie with them again and try and get them to experience some of the magic of this wonderful universe. I owe a lot of my personality and viewpoint to these characters, I feel like I spent so much time with them growing up, and especially influence by Peppermint Patty and her unwillingness to conform to gender standards.
Thank you so much Jean Schulz for making this exhibition possible, really can’t express what this meant to me.