Intern RJ Casey recently helped index The Complete Peanuts: 1995-1996 (Vol. 23), which inspired him to write this Flog post.
There’s someone who is too heavy for a blimp, too underground for greeting cards, too cool to be afloat on Thanksgiving. There’s someone named Rerun Van Pelt, and he’s the only Peanuts character that matters.
Charles Schulz created Rerun as a throwaway character in the ’70s, good for a couple baby jokes here and there; the youngest Van Pelt was mostly relegated to the background for the better part of two decades. But the background was perfect for Rerun. That’s where he sat and observed all the blunders and gaffes everyone around him made in the daily, cyclical rotation. All the blankets, the bullying, the balls missed, the bad hygiene. These weren’t mistakes Rerun could afford to make, because he was a different sort of character. In the historic run of strips, Rerun was the only character that evolved into a Midwestern agent of change.
Rerun comes from a family of lunatics. At best, his sister Lucy is kind, but only when she’s attempting to manipulate anybody on two feet (this includes dogs). At worst, Lucy’s manic, often violent outbursts usually land Rerun somersaulting in the snow, or with a broken board game cracked over his head. His evangelical conspiracy theorist brother is no better. When Linus tries to teach his kid brother about the Great Pumpkin and convince him to go door to door to spread the good word, Rerun straight-up bails, because he’s not a blind follower to the gourd. Rerun is no hack physiatrist or wet security blanket adherent. He’s his own man—a Peanuts punk to his overalled core.
Rerun had to learn how to ride solo when Charlie Brown, Schroeder, Shermy and the squad didn’t even allow him on the baseball diamond. Not one to be relegated to the bench—especially after he started co-headlining the comic in the ’90s—Rerun takes to basketball, a more physically taxing and mentally demanding sport. Though the ball is about the same size as his body, Rerun’s handle is sick, and he even occasionally sinks a few buckets. Rerun had to adapt to tough times, like his parents not allowing him to own a dog. He didn’t whine or give up. No, he begged, borrowed, and stole until he scammed Snoopy into sending for his brother Spike. When Spike showed up and didn’t fit Rerun’s strict specifications, he sent him right back to the desert.
Although he may not be a Peanuts OG, Rerun Van Pelt is the most intriguing character in the long-running comic strip by far. If you tell me anything different, you might as well be squawking like Miss Othmar, because I’m not hearing it. Rerun won’t mind though. He’s just going to keep evolving, keep discerning, and keep making those basement comics.