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Blog: Good Grief, Charlie Brown

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On Saturday The Panels In My Strip went to see Good Grief, Charlie Brown, at Somerset House, an exhibition about Charles Schultz, 'Peanuts', and art inspired by it.


We'd been meaning to go for ages, and it was WELL worth the wait. It was set out over two LONG rooms over two floors, with double sided boards throughout the middle, almost all of which featured the original artwork for several strips. The best thing about THAT, obviously, was that there was a lot of 'Peanuts' to read, but there was all sorts of information along the sides packed with new (to us) FACTS. I grew up thinking of 'Peanuts' as just another cartoon in my Nan's newspaper, not much different to 'Garfield' with its cheesy gags, tonnes of merchandise, and sligthly sentimental cartoon shows. I never thought of it as anything more than that at the time, but seeing it in this context made me realise how funny it was, and how touching it could be too. Also, things like Schultz's support for feminism, and the introduction of Franklin, and his invention of the term 'security blanket' and... well, lots of things, were all EXTREMELY interesting.

I was also surprised to see 'Peanuts' described as the longest ongoing work of art produced by one person. I'd just assumed that, like most daily newspaper strip cartoonists, he'd used a studio of some kind, especially when it all got famous, but apparently not. I suppose that is why you can see the style change as it goes along, especially in the first few years.

In theory it was also an exhibition about the art that 'Peanuts' had inspired, but to be honest we didn't pay much attention to that, and I didn't see anybody else doing it much either. The central displays were much too interesting to be distracted by a big Charlie Brown jumper, although I DID really like Good Old Gregor Brown, an extremely clever version of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis' using the 'Peanuts' characters which was respectful to BOTH.

The one thing they didn't seem to mention much was the commercialisation of the strip. There were LOTS of displays of actual Merchandise (including some copies of the Peanuts Books which I'm sure I wasn't the only person to SNIFF as they passed by) but not much discussion of what some people would say was an oversaturation, to the point where PILLOCKS like me only saw the Cuddly Toys and not the stories themselves. Other than that thought it was BRILLIANT - I would highly recommend it, and also a trip through the GIFT SHOP on the way out!

Afterwards we headed up to Angel to attend the BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS of that most marvellous of humans, Mr J Jervis. We'd gone for the EARLY session, before the main evening DO at The Lexington, which meant we got to spend a lovely few hours chatting to him and Mr B Clancy before they had to go round the corner, while we got to go home for curry! It was the perfect end to a ruddy DELIGHTFUL day!

posted 30/1/2019 by MJ Hibbett

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