‘Pigskin Peanuts’ brings a fall classic to Sacramento
By Susan Laird, Village Life
Sept. 10, 2015
This fall marks a milestone anniversary for the comic strip “Peanuts”
It was created 65 years ago on Oct. 2, 1950 by artist Charles Schultz. Like most Americans I can’t remember a time without it.
This strip blazed a pioneering trail that went on to influence future cartoonists. The simplicity of the drawings, the thoughtful topics and the massive merchandising created a trail that inspired artists from Kevin Fagan (“Drabble”) to Cathy Guisewite (“Cathy”) to Berkeley Breathed (“Bloom County 2015”).
Drawn with thoughtful care, the key characters all became a part of the American experience.
“Charlie Brown” was even a hit song for The Coasters in 1959 and “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” hit the airwaves in 1966. “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” premiered off Broadway in 1967. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” charted new territory for holiday cartoons in 1965.
The strip itself was read by millions every day. At its peak “Peanuts” was read by more than 355 million people in 75 countries, 2,600 newspapers and 21 languages.
So it is altogether fitting and appropriate that there exists today a museum dedicated to “Peanuts” in Schultz’ home city of Santa Rosa. The Charles M. Schultz Museum and Research Center is the archive for the life’s work of this remarkable man. Through rotating exhibits, this repository showcases Schultz’ creative process, his research (he read a lot about the Red Baron) and his concern for the country as it experienced the turmoil of the Civil Rights Era, the Vietnam War and more.
Fifteen years after his death, “Peanuts” remains the world’s most popular comic strip.
Through the use of characters in national ad campaigns for brands like Ford, the creation of Emmy-award winning television specials and the development of official licensed merchandise, the strip grew beyond a fixture of American popular culture to become a worldwide phenomenon, resulting in a multi-million dollar empire and Schulz’s regular appearance on “Forbes” magazine’s list of highest-paid entertainers in America.
At the California Museum
This autumn, a travelling exhibit is coming to our area from the archives Santa Rosa. The California Museum in Sacramento will host “Pigskin Peanuts.”
Although “Peanuts” sports-related storylines are most often associated with baseball, Schulz created over 250 football-themed strips over the course of his nearly 50 year career that resulted in the strip’s most memorable joke.
The iconic gag known as the “Fall Classic,” or Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown just as he runs up to kick it, has remained so well known that it has become an annual autumn rite of passage in American pop culture since it was first published on Nov. 16, 1952.
The exhibit features 50 “Peanuts” Sunday and daily comic strips and over 100 pieces of “Peanuts”-themed ephemera. The exhibit chronicles the enduring cultural legacy of “Peanuts” through its football-themed storylines.
“We are delighted to be hosting ’Pigskin Peanuts’ this fall,” said Amanda Meeker, the Museum’s executive director. “This fun, family-friendly exhibit highlights the creativity California is famous for and provides visitors of all ages the opportunity to explore their own creativity through hands-on activities in the exhibit’s adjoining ‘Inspiration Station,’ such as how to draw a four-panel comic strip.”
The fun begins with a “Touchdown Party” this Saturday, Sept. 12, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Festivities will include free admission for museum members, plus hands-on activities for kids of all ages.
“Pigskin Peanuts” runs through Jan. 3, 2016. Enjoy a golden autumn afternoon in Sacramento and if you enjoy this exhibit (and I think you will), consider making a day trip some weekend to Santa Rosa to the Charles M. Schultz Museum. Like the California Museum, that museum truly houses some of California’s “gold.”
The California Museum is located at 1020 O Street in Sacramento. Bring lots of quarters to feed hungry parking meters and to keep nasty $50 parking tickets away. Limited free parking is available on weekends. Visit californiamuseum.org for admission pricing and regular museum hours.