It's a great exhibit, Charlie Brown

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Charlie Brown, Lucy and Schroeder seem like old friends, but many don't know much about their creator, Charles M. Schulz.

An exhibit, "Inside Peanuts: The Life and Art of Charles M. Schulz," at Hays Public Library can change that.

"The most amazing thing about it is, as a person, people didn't know him," said Emma Detrixhe, HPL marketing administrator.

The exhibit includes Schulz's life from Minnesota to California, "what led him to be a comic strip artist, (his) creative process and inspiration," she said.

The exhibit also provides a look at each of the comic strip characters from Charlie Brown introduced in 1950 to the more recent characters Peppermint Patty and Marcie, introduced in the 1960s.

Hays is the last stop before the exhibit returns to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Schulz produced 17,897 comic strips that appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers with 355 million readers, according to the exhibit. Schulz retired in December 1999 and died Feb. 12, 2000, at age 77.

The Peanuts comic strip characters also spun off television specials, plays, a movie, symphonic concerto, books and collectibles.

Some collectibles such as figures, bubble bath, coin bank and giant Pez dispenser also are on display.

Geneva Deatrich, a library staff member, is a Peanuts collector herself.

"When we wanted to do a sneak peek, she pulled from her own collection for it," Detrixhe said.

Deatrich said she has "been a fan for so long, it's part of my life."

Like many, her collection centers on Snoopy.

"I'm a dog person, so (I like) anything Snoopy," she said.

She has two cousins who also are collectors, and they buy items for one another.

Deatrich still is a fan and reads the comic strip.

"The cartoon is for adults. It has a moral for adults."

Even longtime fans can learn something new from the exhibit, Detrixhe said.

"To a lot of people, these characters are people's friends," she said. "That's why it's so near and dear to people. Charlie Brown never loses hope. His friends may call him a blockhead, but he faces each day with optimism. That's something people look forward to."

The exhibit in the main floor gallery is open during library hours through March 10. The public is invited to attend the grand opening at 7 p.m. Friday.