I’d like to think there’s a Peanut living inside all of us. That’s right, a Peanut. Not the salty food variety, but the Charles Schulz kind. Whether it’s the dogged determination of Charlie Brown, the bossiness of Lucy, the hip swagger of Franklin, the artistry of Schroeder or the vast imagination of Snoopy—just about anyone can relate to The Peanuts gang. In fact, that’s probably why they’ve persisted in pop culture for so long—going strong even 15 years after their creator (Schulz) passed away. Even if you’ve never read the actual comic strip, you’ve no doubt seen at least one of the two classic animated specials: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Granted, there have been more than just those two specials but they’re by far the most memorable. None of them, however, have ever made it to the big screen. That’s about to change with the release of Blue Sky Studio’s The Peanuts Movie which opens this Friday, November 6th. As Director Steve Martino describes in his foreword to The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie, the new film captures much of the same heart and spirit as it’s source material, only on a much bigger canvas. “When I read the comic strip or watched the TV specials growing up,” says Martino, “…I wanted to experience what it would look like if we were able to see those colorful [characters] through a sharper lens…with the texture and lighting that reveals Snoopy’s soft beagle fur and the cotton weave in Charlie Brown’s iconic shirt.”
This book, The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie, expresses just how detailed the crew got when trying to re-imagine the Peanuts for a new generation of fans (while not pissing off the old ones). Prevalent throughout the book is the theme of “legacy,” not just the idea of recreating Schulz’s style of illustration, but authentically capturing what made his creations special—how he emphasized the way children think and perceive the world. Much of this detailed observation is attributed the passion of Martino, but can be equally attributed to the participation of Craig Schulz (Charles’ son) and veteran artists like Tom Everhart (“the only artist educated, trained and authorized by Charles Schulz to reproduce his characters in fine art”).
Included with these stories are hundreds of sketches, character designs and 3D modeling mockups that show—in great detail—exactly how the team at Blue Sky Studios translated the Peanuts’ 2D world into a (semi) 3D world. Each character receives a few pages documenting their development as well as highlighting their unique characteristics. There’s even a full page that demonstrates how to render Charlie Brown’s hair depending on his emotional state of mind! Even supporting characters like Pigpen, Franklin, Frieda, Violet, Patty Shermy and Woodstock—not to mention Snoopy’s siblings Spike, Olaf, Marbles, Andy, Belle—receive some loving attention. Then there’s the new cast members like The Little Red-Haired Girl and Fifi (a photojournalistic dog)…don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything.
Additional sections cover things like camera angles, “ghost limbs,” environments, how to draw rain, differences in color between “Peanuts World” and Snoopy’s “Fantasy World,” stereography, sound and special effects. It’s a lot to cover, especially in such detail, and will surely require multiple sittings (that will absolutely worth it) to finish.
OUT OF 5
More than just a book, The Art and Making of The Peanuts Movie is a fantastic piece of Peanuts memorabilia and an absolute must-read for any Peanuts fan. While it doesn’t cover every aspect of the history behind Schulz’s creation (and it’s not intended to), the passion and respect that everyone involved has for the Peanuts shines through.
+ Amazing amount of detail
+ Loads of production artwork
+ Inspired team stories
+ Detailed character pages