Even if it was a dark and stormy night, the rain had no effect on the dirtiest, dust-clouded youngster ever created in the world of comics.
For fans of “Peanuts” — the iconic comic strip made in Sonoma County by favorite son Charles M. Schulz — only one name comes to mind: Pigpen.
And they can get their fill at “Behind Peanuts: Pigpen,” the newest exhibit at the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, celebrating the oddly beloved character. Located in the Upstairs Changing Gallery, visitors can view the display from July 27 to Jan. 14.
Having appeared in a little more than 100 of the 17,897 strips created by Schulz, the dust-enshrouded grade schooler, who brings wafting clouds of dirt to every setting, seems like an unlikely fan favorite. However, the elusive Pigpen has developed a following that rivals even his cleaner and more kempt counterparts.
“Many people technology’s kind of removed that.”
Others say this hasn’t changed, that being messy is a state of mind, and there will always be a token Pigpen in every group. Storylines in “Peanuts” often show a sense of longing, either to kick a football, fly a kite or win a baseball game.
This wanting to achieve something is no different for Pigpen, but he is entirely about standing up for himself and not letting anyone else bring him down. Perhaps what best exemplifies this is the largest sketch showcased, a 1960 “chalk talk” drawing of Pigpen.
These consisted of Schulz speaking to an audience while doing “Peanuts” character sketches at the same time. This piece was added to the museum a few months before the showing. “We have a lot of things you’re not going to see anywhere else,” said Gallegos.
Highlights include collectible Pigpen merchandise, with a magazine drawing and one for Earth Day. There’s also a recreated console TV playing a 1960 Ford Falcon commercial, his first time in animation, and insight on “The Peanuts Movie” when he was in full 3D.
Whether in the comic strip or numerous animated portrayals, the character continues to inspire people to enjoy life with their head held high, and not let others be discouraging. His message remains true for all, how what’s on the outside isn’t the whole person.
“He’s totally independent and unfazed by anyone’s expectations of him,” said Allison Pohl, outgoing public programs and visitor services coordinator.
“He’s an awesome role model.”
The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located on 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa. It’s open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. After Aug. 29, it will be closed Tuesdays. Adult admission is $12, seniors 62 or over with ID is $8, and children 4 to 18 or college students with valid ID is $5. Free access for museum members and children 3 or under.