"Pigpen" is a human soil bank who raises a cloud of dust on a perfectly clean street and passes out gum drops that are invariably black.
Charles M. Schulz on "Pig-Pen"
History"Pig Pen" first appeared on July 13, 1954. In his first appearance, he tells Patty, "I haven't got a name . . . People just call me things . . . Real insulting things." He says he is usually called "Pig-Pen". No real name for "Pig-Pen" was ever subsequently given in later Peanuts strips.
Being constantly dirty is a trait that "Pig-Pen" is best known for. When he takes a deep breath (to sing, for example), the dust rises briefly around him. He sometimes refers to the cloud that surrounds him with pride as the dust of ancient civilizations. He cannot seem to rid himself of the dust for more than the briefest of periods — indeed, in spite of his best efforts, it appears that he cannot stay clean. He can get dirty even by walking in a rainstorm. In the strip from July 23, 1955, he cleans himself up for a party, but the other Peanuts characters do not let him in because they do not recognize him.
In the strip from November 25, 1959, after bathing and dressing in clean clothes, "Pig-Pen" steps outside his house and instantly becomes dirty and disheveled, whereupon he declares to Charlie Brown, "You know what I am? I'm a dust magnet!" Dirt is similarly shown instantly becoming attracted to a recently cleaned "Pig-Pen" in the epiosde "The NASA Space Station" from the series This Is America, Charlie Brown. The strip from June 19, 1956 shows "Pig-Pen" trying and failing to wash his hands, after failing to wash them effectively, he realizes that he has "reached a point of no return."
"Pig-Pen" is also mocked for being dirty in the TV specials, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas. In It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, "Pig-Pen" disguises himself as a ghost, but his true identity is easily revealed because of the trail of dust that follows him.
Charles M. Schulz admitted that he came to regret "Pig-Pen's" popularity, given the character's essentially one-joke nature; he utilized the character very rarely in the later years of the strip's run.
"Pig-Pen" last appeared in the Peanuts comic strip on September 8, 1999. That strip is unusual in that it shows him embarrassed to the point of shame by his dirtiness, with none of the pride or sense of destiny that he had expressed in earlier strips.
Although Charlie Brown is "Pig-Pen"'s friend, he does not appreciate the cloud of dirt that follows him. He sometimes reproves "Pig-Pen" for his constant messiness. However, he is usually impressed by how "Pig-Pen" manages to stay messy, even in a rainstorm. In one strip, "Pig Pen" is embarrassed when Charlie Brown deduces - simply from the dirt on his clothes - where he has been playing for the past three days.
Patty and Violet
Patty and Violet always mock and insult "Pig-Pen" for being messy. In one strip, Patty is about to pour a bucket of water on "Pig-Pen", realizing afterwards that he is already clean. Patty turns around, but, as the reader can see, "Pig-Pen" is only half clean and his dirty side is facing away from Patty. In another strip, Violet attempts to shame "Pig-Pen" by making him look in a mirror. She asks him, "Aren't you ashamed?" to which "Pig-Pen" replies, "On the contrary. I didn't think I looked this good." He has also told Violet "I forgot to rake my hair".
In the Peanuts computer game, It's the Big Game, Charlie Brown, "Pig-Pen" says that he is in-love with Violet, due to her habit of making mud pies. However, this has never been stated in the comic strip, and therefore cannot be considered canon.
Snoopy, like most of the other characters, is disgusted by "Pig-Pen's" dirtiness. On one occasion, he is shown running away from a muddy ball thrown by "Pig-Pen". Snoopy even refuses to take food from "Pig-Pen", because the food is too dirty. (Which is considered unusual since Snoopy will stop at nothing to take food from someone.)
TV and film appearances of "Pig-Pen"
Like most of Schulz's characters, "Pig-Pen" has appeared in several of the animated Peanuts television specials and movies beginning in the 1960s. Geoffrey Ornstein first voiced "Pig-Pen" in the 1965 TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas, he also later played the role in A Boy Named Charlie Brown. Various actors have voiced him since.
The TV specials and films in which "Pig-Pen" appears are as follows:
- A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)
- Charlie Brown's All-Stars (1966)
- It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
- It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown (1969)
- A Boy Named Charlie Brown (1969)
- Play it Again, Charlie Brown (1971) [silent]
- Snoopy, Come Home (1972) [silent]
- It's a Mystery, Charlie Brown (1974)
- It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown (1976)
- It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown (1977)
- Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) [silent]
- You're the Greatest, Charlie Brown (1979) [silent]
- It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown (1984)
- Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don't Come Back!!) (1980)
- Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown (1985)
- Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! (1986) [silent]
- It Was My Best Birthday Ever, Charlie Brown (1997)
- A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002)
- I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown (2003)
- Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown (2011)
- The Peanuts Movie (2015)
- In the TV special "A Charlie Brown Christmas", Pig-Pen is shown playing a double bass. Later, in "Play It Again, Charlie Brown", he is shown to be a skilled drummer as well (while Snoopy plays double bass).
- "Pig-Pen" is one of the many Peanuts characters to appear in the game Snoopy's Street Fair, in which, he owns a flea circus.