Happiness150 Happiness150

“Happiness Is A Warm Blanket”

Last summer I moderated a panel at the San Diego Comic Con for Happiness is a Warm Blanket, the first new Peanuts special in five years. And “special” it is indeed. Produced by Wild Brain with Charles M. Schulz Creative Services, and directed by Andy Beall (Up, Ratatouille, Iron Giant) and Frank Molieri (The Simpsons Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). Craig Schulz, son of the Peanuts creator, served as one the executive producers and writers of the film along with cartoonist Stephen Pastis (Pearls Before Swine), who wrote the special as well. Paige Braddock and Linda M. Steiner (Duck Dodgers, Justice League) co-produced.

Warner Home Video just announced its DVD release date: March 29th, 2011. No television date or channel has been announced yet, but I’m sure it’ll get TV exposure. I’m working on getting a public screening, with director Q&A, for L.A. (details to be announced). I’ve seen the film and it’s terrific – the artists have created a loving tribute to Schulz and Charlie Brown with a story based directly on Peanuts strips from the 1960s, and art direction taken from Schulz’s drawing style circa 1965. It brings back Shermy, Patty, Pigpen and Violet, and will remind you why you loved all the Peanuts characters in the first place. A must see and a must-have. Don’t miss this one.

  • This sounds really exciting! Can’t wait to see it!

  • Curious as to why Melendez’s studio is not involved. Are they no longer able to work on Peanuts specials now that Bill Melendez is gone too, or were they not able to revert to their 60’s style that was required for this special?

    • Chris Sobieniak

      We really do wonder about that. I was hoping they would’ve tried for another one after his death but I guess it just wasn’t the same without his guidance.

    • ShouldBeWorking

      I think it will be refreshing to have a new studio have a crack at a special. While I think the limited style was charming in those early specials, I would like to see animation as full as was with Richard Williams’ Ziggy’s Gift on a Peanuts special. Look forward to seeing it because of Mr. Beck’s recommendation.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Good grief, how will I live until March 29th? :-)

  • Jorge Garrido

    Wow! Peak Schulz!

  • Stephan Pastis wrote it? I knew that he was influenced by Peanuts but I didn’t know he’d do this. I wonder if they’ll have Charlie Brown and Lucy get into a long pun like with the strip on occasion? (i don’t think Charlie would try to insult Stephan at the end though)

  • WHAAAATTTT??!!!!! This sounds terrific!!!! Everything Ive wanted to see back in Peanuts: the appealing looks of the sixties strips, the writing from the sixties strips, the inclusion of the ORIGINAL characters! Cannot wait! thanks for announcing this!

  • Scarabim

    For my part, I am soooooo glad Melendez’s studio is NOT involved with this. I hated the specials he created, with the exception of the first three – “Charlie Brown Christmas”, “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” and “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars”. All of the rest drifted away from Schulz’s expressive, idiosyncratic style and turned the kids into ugly scribbly monsters, utterly lacking the simple charm of Schulz’s best work.

    I’m also glad to read that the look of the film is based on Schulz’s 1965 strips. Those strips represented his art at its peak. I do have one question though: In this new film, is Snoopy allowed to “think” out loud? I’ve never understood the decision the Melendez studio made to have Snoopy stay mute. It was Snoopy’s thoughts in the strip that made him funny. That squeaking squalling creature in Melendez’s cartoons was NOT Snoopy. Or funny. He seemed more like Mickey Mouse on acid.

    • Re:
      –That squeaking squalling creature in Melendez’s cartoons was NOT Snoopy–

      Yeah, he was Snoopy – but Snoopy version 2, equally as valid as print Snoopy.

      It’s a comparison similar to that between Segar’s comic strip Popeye and Fleischer’s animated Popeye. They’re both great, but share little beyond visual characteristics.

      • Scarabim

        Well, I’m a fan of both Elzie Segar’s Thimble Theater Popeye and Fleischer’s Popeye (which is vastly superior to the later Popeye in the Paramount cartoons). I don’t really see a vast difference between them in personality or humor. The Fleischers do focus on the battle between Popeye and Bluto much more than the strip ever did, but that’s the only real difference that I can see.

        As for Snoopy, I found him likable only in the comic strip…that is, until he kept hanging around that bird too much and started playing golf, writing novels and walking around on two legs all of the time, thus making him too human and destroying the incongruous humor of a “thinking” dog. He evolved past the elements that made him a great character IMO. Guess that’s the risk of letting a comic strip run on way past the point of burnout.

    • According to the always reliable Wikipedia, Snoopy was verbal in two Melendez productions.

      I prefer him not speaking, however.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Those specials in particular were based on musicals originally, “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “Snoopy The Musical”.

    • Rick

      totally agree. Anything after the first 3 specials were awful. Looking forward to this one!!

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I still think anything up to 1969 is OK myself.

      • Indeed. A BOY NAMED CHARLIE BROWN was a great close to the Peanuts’ 60s era. (Although I enjoyed SNOOPY COME HOME equally.)

        IMHO, the Peanuts specials kind of jumped the shark when composer Vince Guaraldi died in 1976. The subsequent specials/composers were pretty good (while few were rather lame; IT WAS YOUR FIRST KISS, CHARLIE BROWN is a good example), but there was just… something missing.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        That’s how I felt. Along with the first TV specials, an off-Broadway musical, and even getting a NASA lunar and command module named for both Chuck and Snoopy, the movie perhaps cemented Peanuts’ place in history and it’s ultimate peak, a good 20 years of effort to get that far. After that, it seemed like it didn’t have to keep impressing us with something new as we sorta accepted it’s presence in our lives.

        Also, I felt Guaraldi’s death certainly left a lot to be desired in those later specials. It just wasn’t the same without his approach, and just went he was getting real funky on those synthesizers.

    • In the PEANUTS Webisodes on iTunes, Snoopy visualizes word-thought bubbles, as in the strip. It’d be great if he did so in this new special! Or maybe voiceover (as in the two musical specials; I always thought THAT was a little more like the Snoopy from the strip).

      That’s always been kind of a problem with the Melendez Snoopy. I mean, I LOVE the Melendez Snoopy, but without Snoopy’s thoughts, many of the jokes became lost in translation. But on the other hand, one of its rewarding qualities was its subtlety.

  • I thought Wild Brain went out of business.

    • Wildbrain was acquired by DHX Media in September 2010, largely on the strength of Yo Gabba Gabba! Wildbrain is now a division of its parent company.

    • Keith

      I know there were problems with Wild Brain ‘north’, but Wild Brain LA has been going strong for awhile now (the Ricky Gervais Show seasons 1 & 2 on HBO being one of their biggest projects)

  • Brian Kidd

    This makes me happy. PEANUTS specials were a staple of my childhood. While I’m glad that CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and THE GREAT PUMPKIN continue to air annually, I miss the constant stream of specials.

  • dan

    This sounds awesome!!Post images or something if you can! :)

  • Anthony D.

    Day one buy for me!

  • davidbfain

    I had the pleasure of working on this briefly as an animatic editor and saw the finished product at the cast & crew screening. They did a truly excellent job capturing the look and feel of the first few Charlie Brown specials that are classics. Fans will not be disappointed.

    • Mike

      David, great to hear you got to work on the special. One question: Does it have a classic jazz music style ala Guaraldi? Hope so!

  • I’m looking forward to this!


  • jordan reichek

    wow. wasn’t aware of this. the cover drawing sure is great. wonder what kind of music/score they used.

    i just pre-ordered.

  • DMCGeezus

    This is going to be a long three months.

  • I am excited to hear about this!! I hope they do the characters justice!

  • I was lucky enough to meet director, Andy Beall at that ComicCon session.

    I worked with Bill Melendez and his talented team on the Charlie Brown stuff back in the day.

  • Bob

    Does the music for the special stay close to its Vince Guaraldi roots I wonder?

    • s.w.a.c.

      On a similar note, over the holidays CBC Radio’s Inside the Music aired a documentary about the making of the Guaraldi soundtrack, with input from the trio’s drummer Jerry Granelli (who just so happens to live near me). You can hear it here:


    • I imagine it does, judging by Jerry’s positive reception of it. I imagine they had great voiceovers too? perhaps actual children? looking forward to this!


  • Can’t wait.

  • Justin

    I am looking forward to this special. As much as I love all those golden age cartoons, I have to admit; my favorite cartoon is Peanuts. There are a lot of reasons why:
    1. Charlie Brown’s crush on the Little Red Haired Girl reminds me of how I had a crush on a couple of girls including the one crush I have right now.
    2. Cedar Point for a while had (and still do) the “Peanuts gang” at the park and I always would hang around them. In fact, last year “Lucy” and “Peppermint Pattie” were “fighting” over me (sorry about the quotes, but they only mean that these are costumed characters and they weren’t really fighting)
    3. Most of the licensing products I have are of Snoopy and the Peanuts gang thanks to family and friends.

    I hope Warner Bros. will do more Peanuts releases. I really would like to see It’s an Adventure Charlie Brown, She’s a Good Skate Charlie Brown, and the Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show on DVD soon.

    • s.w.a.c.

      How about….Flashbeagle?

      • Justin

        You can get Flashbeagle on the Snoopy’s Reunion DVD. It’s not remastered, but its better than not being on DVD at all

  • Darkblader

    I thought they stopped doing Peanuts Specials, and speaking of Wildbrain. What happened to their deal with Danny Antonucci?

  • B. Baker

    This sounds really exciting. Something really worth looking forward to — thanks for the heads-up, Jerry!

  • yay_for_kari

    Man this is some fantastic news, definitely can’t wait to see it. I wonder – if the drawing style takes a leaf from mid-sixties Schulz, and some earlier characters will be making appearances, will we see the likes of Peppermint Patty, Franklin, Woodstock, etc.? Whatever the answer to that question is, this will be a must-see for me.

  • Christine

    If you look closely at the Amazon images, the music will be done by Mark Mothersbaugh, and according to Peanuts fanatic Derrick Bang, “while it will be in the style of Guaraldi’s music with similar instrumentation, all the songs will be original works by Mothersbaugh”

    For the Guaraldi fans, there’s a new documentary about his life making the film festival rounds. As a huge Guaraldi fan, I can’t wait to see it!

    • Doug

      Thanks for that link Christine. I can’t wait to see the Guaraldi film too!

  • jedijim

    Does any one know if this will be released on Blu-ray as well?

  • Bob Harper

    One of the cool things about working at Wild Brain is seeing the Peanuts art up on the wall. Can’t wait for this DVD to come out!

  • I was at that panel in San Diego and got to talk to Andy Beall about the project while waiting for it to start. The love and passion he felt for “Peanuts” really showed in the clips that were shown at the panel (which got a standing ovation, as I recall).

    One important thing he said was, “I hate seeing things from my childhood being ‘updated’. So, for this project, we went back to 1965.”

  • Wow. For once I’m excited to see something Peanuts related.
    I hope it’s as great as everyone makes it out to be. Hopefully the new blood will really do some good for the franchise.

  • Mike Russo

    You can actually see some of the animation in this Today Show clip.


    • Chris Sobieniak

      Nice way to sneak it in.

    • thanks! Ive been dying to see a clip! cant wait to see the whole thing!

    • Justin

      My God! Those are from the new special?! I’ve could have sworn it was from a 1960’s special. The cropped widescreen gave it away. Now I’m VERY excited about this special.

    • WOW!!!!!

      Now THIS is Peanuts! This captures the spirit of the specials from the 60s, and has gotten me really excited for this special!

      (The book plugged on the TODAY interview was one of my Christmas presents!)

      • Chris Sobieniak

        For a minute there I thought I was watching something out of “Charlie Brown’s All-Stars”, but then I noticed they were doing something different and that hit me!

  • Bronnie Barry

    It is exciting indeed!I feel most fortunate to have worked on this film with a truly world-class crew,in a top notch studio.It really did come out beautifully,and I sincerely hope we have the opportunity to do more Peanuts films at this quality level.. A win all the way around, IMHO.:)

  • Mike Russo

    I’m just hoping this isn’t 40 minutes of blackout gags where old strips are copied shot for shot and line for line. Being unable to write new material and link the stuff from the strip with an ongoing story killed all the specials of the last 10 years. I hope this one feels fresher.

    A lot of recent specials just felt like, “Set-up, punchline, fade-out, set-up, punchline, fade-out, set-up, punchline, fade-out” for a half hour. At least when the classic specials were copying gags from the strips they were used in support of a greater, original story and everything felt organic. Now I feel like Peanuts specials of the last decade or two need rim shots after every third piece of dialogue (i.e. the third panel of a daily strip).

    I hope to be pleasantly surprised in March.

  • You can see a promo for “Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown” on the new DVD for “A Charlie Brown Valentine”, (which also features the almost obscure 1981 special, “Someday You’ll Find Her, Charlie Brown”.)