During the reading of The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation I found myself watching all of the classic 1960’s TV Specials and subsequently listening to the excellent Vince Guaraldi soundtrack which has been pretty much playing on repeat ever since, so infectious are the characters and stories created by Charles Schultz and brought to the screen by Bill Melendez. This new book by animation historian Charles Solomon takes readers behind the scenes on the creation of all 45 episodes starting with the festive favourite, A Charlie Brown Christmas from 1965, all the way up to 2011’s Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. Full of studio photographs, concept drawings, animation cels, scripts and background paintings, it provides all the information you could ask for in a book of this type, and the in-depth notes really do tell the story of how this team of talented creatives adapted the comics (and most importantly Charles Schultz’s personality and drawing style ) for the screen.
Something that comes across in the book and whilst re-watching the cartoons is that they were never dumbed-down for kids or designed simply keep them entertained with superficial whoops and bangs. They are visually deceptively simple, allowing Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Linus and Lucy to move the story along at a satisfyingly slow pace with their intelligent wit, neurosis, melancholy and above all, charm, setting an early standard for later shows such as The Simpsons.
The book itself is a fascinating read and packs it pages with brilliant reproductions of original drawings and shop talk that has re-kindled a long forgotten affection for these classic cartoons and developed a new admiration for the artists and writers involved in their making. It comes highly recommended.
The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation – By Charles Solomon
Hardback 160 pages
27.9 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm