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BOOK REVIEW: The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation

I’ll be posting a Holiday Gift Guide next month, but one book leapt out of the pack and I want to give you the heads-up right now. I just received a copy of Charles Solomon’s The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation (Chronicle Books) and found it a wonderful surprise.

Not only a visual delight – original cels, backgrounds, storyboards, animation drawings, Schulz model sheets and scripts, behind the scenes photos, television station publicity materials – but Solomon’s text is goes deep into the making of these landmark specials (and theatrical features) with new information and interviews with noted participants, including Lee Mendelsohn, Phil Roman, the late Bill Melendez and Bill Littlejohn – and many others including the voice actors. The text is loaded with great inside information and I particularly appreciated how Solomon tied the influences of UPA and earlier animation to the Peanuts shows – and how these Charlie Brown specials have influenced important directors and creators of animation working today.

The bottom line: the book is great fun and highly informative. I never thought a book about Peanuts specials could be so enlightening and entertaining. Bravo, Mr. Solomon, the Schulz estate and the editor/designers at Chronicle for a job well done. You’ve done Mr. Schulz and Mr. Brown proud. The book goes on sale Nov. 14th.

In conjunction with the publication of this book, the Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa California is hosting an exhibition of rare animation art over this holiday season. Don’t miss an appearance and panel with Producer Lee Mendelsohn and author Charles Solomon on Saturday December 1st to discuss the films. Here’s the Museum’s Press release:

The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center is highlighting the artifacts that made this possible with an exhibition featuring 16 original never-before-displayed Peanuts animation drawings and cels, including five cels rescued from Schulz’s 1966 studio fire.

The Art of Peanuts Animation: Production Cels from the Museum’s Collection runs now through Sunday, February 3, 2013. Timed to coincide with the November 7, 2012 launch of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation by Charles Solomon, this exhibit includes rare original production cels from animated Peanuts classics: A Charlie Brown Christmas; It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown; and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. Visitors will also see cels from numerous other animated specials from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and view selected full-length animated specials in the Museum’s theater.

Rare Cels Survive Fire at Schulz’s Studio
Several of the animation cels in the Museum’s collection survived a fire at Schulz’s Coffee Grounds Studio in 1966. These original cels from the animated television specials It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A Charlie Brown Christmas were donated to the Museum by a childhood friend of Schulz’s son, Craig, who recovered the cels from the studio after the fire.

Programming Events:
Saturday, December 1 at 1:00 pm
Join Lee Mendelson, executive producer of the classic Peanuts animated specials, and Charles Solomon, internationally respected animation historian and author of the new Chronicle book The Art and Making of Peanuts Animation, as they talk about the making of Peanuts animated specials.

The Charles M.SchulzMuseum opened in August 2002 to fulfill its mission of preserving, displaying, and interpreting the art of Charles M. Schulz. The museum carries out this mission through changing exhibitions and programming that: build an understanding of cartoonists andcartoon art; illustrate the scope of Schulz’s multi-faceted career; communicate the stories, inspirations and influences of Charles Schulz; and celebrate the life of Charles Schulz and the Peanuts characters.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located 50 minutes north of San Francisco by car on Highway 101. The Museum is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403.

Weekdays Monday thru Friday (except Tuesdays*) 11am – 5pm
Saturday & Sunday 10am – 5pm
Closed Tuesdays*
*Open every day throughout the summer (Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Free – Museum Members, Children 3 and under
$5.00 – Children 4-18, college students with valid I.D. card, and Seniors 62+
$10.00 – Adults

Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center • 2301 Hardies Lane Santa Rosa, CA 95403

Here’s a trio of original cels in the book – and now on display at the Schulz Museum (click to enlarge):

  • I’m definitely looking forward to this book.

  • I must get this book ASAP. So many good animation books coming out soon… It’s gonna be a good Christmas.

  • the Gee

    Sounds pretty sweet!

  • Cant wait! Ill head up there.

  • Mac

    Hope the music is part of the story.I’m still amazed at the growing baskets of flowers at Vince Guaraldi’s mantle.The guy’s been gone over 35 years and yet another repackaging of the Christmas special soundtrack is now hitting stores,which I would avoid but highly recommend a 3 CD set in a metal tin that floats around including Amazon thrid party sellers listing for six bucks new.

  • Justin

    I’m definitely asking for this book for Christmas!

  • Definitely going to buy it, but I’m sorry, I have to ask — does the book also cover feature films too? On the cover is the art for A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN.

    • Yes. The book covers the feature films and discusses Vince Guaraldi’s music.

  • Joe Horne

    Snoopy made butterd toast and popcorn a mainstay for thanksgiving parties.

  • ParamountCartoons

    Will the book include the first and classic Christmas special’s rare Coca-Cola sign that Linus is tossed to during the opening credits of the original broadcast?

  • Justin

    Does the book talk about “The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show” and “This is America, Charlie Brown?”

  • ColumbiaCartoons

    I will go so far and say that I don’t care for Snoopy. the strips based on Snoopy are usually the weakest and the ones I’d skip. Why? In the beginning of the strip Snoopy was a dog, who interacted with the children like a dog would do (more or less) and later started to develop more and more personality. Somewhere on the way (mid 1960 I think) he turned “whacky”, with a wide array of costumes and personas, lost his “dog-ness” and acted more like the other kids. While the other characters had their own personalities, quirks and fears, Snoopy seemed mostly the crazy, rritating annoying comic-relief!