Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Good Grief, Charlie Brown! 'Peanuts' historian and author based in Ventura County

"Peanuts" author and historian Nat Gertler has more than a thousand books related to the comic strip in his collection.
KCLU News Photo
"Peanuts" author and historian Nat Gertler has more than a thousand books related to the comic strip in his collection.

Home has mini-museum, and has written a series of books based on the iconic characters

They are characters which have been making children, and adults smile for more than seven decades.

The Peanuts gang has become intertwined with the life of a Ventura County man, who started as a fan but who’s become an expert, and author focused on Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus, and company.

"I read some Peanuts growing up," said Nat Gertler. "Plus, my mom called all of her four kids Charlie Brown, so she didn't have to remember which one she was talking to. So, that probably laid in a little subconscious addition to it."

Gertler says his interest in Peanuts continued to grow. Because the Peanuts books sometimes overlapped in the strips they would use, he began making lists which he posted online, and also did a Peanuts blog. He also posted links to places where people could find Peanuts books.

He was already working as an author of how-to books, but he was contacted by people managing the brand, and was asked to write some Peanuts related books.

Gertler has a bedroom of his Camarillo home which is in effect a Peanuts library and museum. It's filled with books and other memorabilia. "All of these shelves, a number of these boxes, it's Peanuts books," said Gertler. There's more than a thousand books from around the world related to the comic book gang. "I have Peanuts in Greek, and Polish, and Latin."

Gertler says Peanuts characters seemed to talk to kids. Remember all the TV specials? When a teacher talked to one of the gang, we never heard the adult voice. It was a sound which sounded like "wah-wah-wah."

The author, and Peanuts historian says the comic strip wasn’t just about humor. Its characters experienced things we could relate to as kids, like bullying, or heartbreak.

"The kids recognize the pain of being the person who gets picked on," said Gertler. "Peanuts is polite in a lot of ways," he said. "But it is not always kind. It reflects the cruelty of life. Kids recognize that, they often don't get from other media."

The strip's creator, Charles Schulz, died in 2000. But, to the surprise of many, the Peanuts franchise has survived with newspapers running best-of strips, and the family allowing new TV and movie projects

Gertler has two new Peanuts related books, Be More Snoopy, and Be More Charlie Brown. They are books which try to provide inspiration based on the classic characters. He also has a publishing company called About Comics.

Does he think in this day an age of superhero movies and video games that Peanuts will continue to thrive in the future?

"There's a lot of people who expected Peanuts would fade very quickly after 2000, when Charles Schulz died, and there were no new strips coming out," said Gertler. He says it has different meaning to different people, and they all grab onto something different. "I expect there will be Peanuts in some form long after I'm dead."

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.