<em>A Little Love: The Art of Bill Melendez</eM> <em>A Little Love: The Art of Bill Melendez</eM>
AnimatorsCartoon Modern

A Little Love: The Art of Bill Melendez

Check out this self-produced mini-doc by writer Matt Zoller Seitz about Peanuts director Bill Melendez – covering his artistic roots, his directorial style, and his influence on the films of Wes Anderson. The juxtaposition of Melendez’s art between Hitchcock’s and Kubrick’s presents a fresh and exciting way of looking at animation in a filmic context. Bonus points to Matt who writes in the YouTube comments that he used my book Cartoon Modern as a resource when preparing this film.

  • Bill Melendez was an incredible talent & a true gentleman!!!

  • many thanks to Matt for creating the video, that was really fun to watch.

  • What an insightful, and well thought out documentary. I thought I already appreciated Bill Melendez enough, but I was wrong. My only complaint about this documentary is that it’s too short.

    Great job Matt.

  • Great little doc, Bill would be proud. Such a nice man to work for.

  • Cool! Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoyed it.

  • Jason

    I really didn’t like most of the Peanuts animated specials. The only exceptions were “Charlie Brown Christmas”, “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin etc etc etc”. In those specials, the animators adhered more closely to Schulz’s idiosyncratic drawing style. Later, the art took a different direction, which turned the cute Peanuts characters into big-headed gargoyles. The animation was very formulaic too. JMHO.

  • Shecky

    In just 9 and a half minutes, Matt got across more about a man than most feature docs do in a couple of hours.

  • That was great. Thank you.

  • Tom

    A neat and touching tribute to a great filmmaker. Nicely done.

  • Frank

    Anything that elevates animation out of its perpetual ghetto is welcome.

  • A very nice piece. The tone was very fitting, and I enjoyed it very much. Thank you for sharing.

  • This was a very good documentary on Melendez!

    Melendez is one of my favorite animators, and an influence to my own work as well. His work is simple, yet beautiful. Especially with the use of colors in backgrounds.

  • I have so many fond memories as a child, watching all the Charlie Brown specials – and now, as a production animator working in the industry it’s so interesting to look at them artistically. They are more film art and character driven than there is high quality animation – but it makes them even more interesting on different levels.

    Thanks for posting it.

  • It’s always nice to see someone refer to the Melendez Lion Witch and Wardrobe. I have a much-watched VHS recording of it that I’ve had since childhood, and it remains my favorite version of that tale. Very sincere and enjoyable, more concerned with telling the story than with visual wizardry – and still a very pleasant film to look at, even though it isn’t complicated in style.

  • I hope that DICK DEADEYE, OR DUTY DONE gets seen here one day. The clips I saw of that are pure awesomeness!

  • steve brown

    I just had the pleasure of watching Dick Deadeye this week. You can get used VHS copies from Amazon. It was hugely enjoyable! There is also a Dick Deadeye illustrated book, with Ronald Searle’s character designs.

    Melendez was fearsome when talking about Walt Disney on the Secret Lives documentary from England. He didn’t pull any punches and my respect for him went up even more, if that’s possible.

  • Mike Fontanelli

    Forgive me for being so off-topic here.

    All well-deserved kudos to Bill Melendez aside, I’m a little tired of documentaries that parrot dubious opinions as fact, glossing over any evidence to the contrary. According to the narrator, UPA was “a more daring studio” than Warner Bros. Well, not so fast…

    To the contrary, WB cartoons – especially during the war years, when Melendez was working there – were innovative on just about every imaginable level. It’s easy to dismiss their marvelous inventiveness because (unlike UPA cartoons) they’re SO entertaining! Even on a pure design level, Warners was there first with “The Dover Boys”. As a blanket statement, it’s short-sighted and superficial.

    There is, after all, a reason few people can remember more than a handful of UPA cartoons. Their limited bag of tricks got old pretty fast. Even the best ones lacked the staying power of WB classics.

  • Love the analysis of the Peanuts palette and also the Wes Anderson juxtapositions! Very nice tribute.

  • Charles

    Beautiful documentary but I cringed at the DVNR in some of those clips. They need to re-remaster these cartoons (I hope good prints still exist).

  • I watched this before and it really bugged me. Most of the stylistic decision in those movies could be better attributed to Charles Schulz or the producer Lee Mendelson, and the rest are just standard tropes of limited animation of the period. He’s really not the auteur this documentary makes him out to be.

  • Gerit

    I love the Peanuts series as those characters are so impressed upon the cultural DNA (for good reason) and lucky for us the whole effect set a very high bar for anything coming from the TV medium. But life is sometimes complex, as I also found this mini documentary overwrought in a kind of elliptical analysis that could have praised the profound wisdom of the color of shirt Melendez wore when voicing for Snoopy. Bill Melendez deserves heaps of credit and he was the perfect guy to translate, in a beautifully nuanced way, all of Schulz’s ideas. I’m just not a fan of when a documentary goes off the rails and makes absolute pronouncements about subjective material.