New Peanuts animation to stay true to originals

The Dallas-Fort Worth Tribune reports that Warner Bros. has a new animated video due out in March entitled, “Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown.” The Schulz family agreed that the work had to stay true to Charles Schulz the late director Bill Melendez’ earlier animations. The new video will be directed by Pixar director Andy Beall (“Up,” “Ratatouille”) who was able to produce an original looking animation.

“I always thought that no matter how good the story was or the voices were, if it didn’t look right, we’d be in big trouble,” says [Craig] Schulz. “Once Andy came in, it started to look like the strips from the ’60s. All the animators said the same thing: The characters look so simple, but they’re extraordinarily difficult to animate.”

As for the cast, “We had over 100 kids come in” to audition. He personally listened to a selection of candidates while going back and forth between recordings from the 1965 Christmas special “matching voices. It turned out Andy and I agreed on every voice, with the exception of Pigpen. I never thought we’d find a Sally, but we actually had a pair of sisters who each sounded like her.”

9 thoughts on “New Peanuts animation to stay true to originals

  1. You know what they need to do? Make animated shorts based on the early strips–call it “Peanuts Beginings” or something–or “Baby Peanuts”. They should animate it in the drawning style Schulz started with in the 50’s–keep it in black and white lineart form. This way it can be ‘old’ and ‘new’ at the same time. It’d be awesome.

    And I won’t even charge that much for the idea.

  2. It’s good to know that they’re trying to stay true to Charles Schulz, Melendez, etc., and they know it’ll be hard. Schulz, as I understood it, was very much in charge of the specials, especially “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” which was pure magic and probably the best of them. He also used dialogue from previous strips, though interestingly, it was not always the same character as the original – and that not only worked, the words were often better with the new character. But most likely only Charles Schulz would have known what to use, how to use it, and who should say it. The genius is gone. Still, it may work out and I like that Pastis is involved, though I kind of wonder why another great “Peanuts” fan and friend of Charles Schulz, Patrick McDonnell, whose “Mutts” has the gentle drawings and humor of “Peanuts,” wasn’t in on it, too.

    I look forward to seeing it!

  3. I saw some of the animation at Comic-Con’s “Peanuts” panel last summer and it was nothing short of fantastic. It really captured the look and feel of the Melendez animation, particularly as seen in the 1960s productions, such as “Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”.

    Not only that, they’re taking the 60s Peanuts so seriously that Shermy is going to be in this special! And he’s not playing a shepherd!

    As for why Stephan Pastis is involved and Patrick McDonnell isn’t… Stephan works part-time at Charles Schulz Creative Associates. Patrick… doesn’t… 🙂

  4. John L.:

    Thanks, I remember now reading that Pastis is with Creative Associates. And if the animation you saw at Comic-con reflected the specials you mention, that makes me more eager than ever to see the new production. Still, I wonder why such a secondary character like Shermy would be included, though maybe not prominently. Also, the “Warm Blanket” storyline apparently is about Linus’s security-blanket-hating grandmother who will be visiting him. Since adults were kept out of view on “Peanuts” and the grandmother, as I recall, was not that prominent in the strips, it’ll be interesting to see how this is handled. Can’t wait!

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