happiness-icon happiness-icon

“Happiness Is A Warm Blanket” pencil tests

Next Tuesday, Warner Home Video will release an all-new Peanuts special direct-to-video, Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. It was directed by my old friend Andy Beall (Up, Ratatouille) and animator Frank Molieri (The Simpsons Movie, SpongeBob SquarePants Movie). The film is based directly on Peanuts strips from the 1960s, and the whole production was put together with incredible loving care. I’ve seen it and I love it. It may be the best Peanuts animation since… oh, lets say 1971. Here’s a video, narrated by Beall, showing several scenes in pencil test just to give you a taste.

  • Donald C

    That is super charming.

  • top cat james

    Happiness is a Peanuts special with correctly drawn characters.

    I am LOVING this! Can’t wait!

  • that does look really good. hope it’s very successful for them!

  • Scarabim

    Oh this is AWESOME!!!!! The drawings are much more authentic to Schulz’s style, tighter, stronger, with nary a trace of the (sorry to be critical) Melendez sloppiness. Based on this small sample, I will definitely be getting this DVD!

    • Actually, this is pretty reminiscent of Melendez’s first few TV specials from the 1960s. And I might also add that Schulz’s own drawing style became more shaky and less tight during the last 15-20 years of the strip (remarkably, though, still very good).

      • Jay

        I just finished watching Happiness is a warm blanket Charlie Brown and was so happy with the style and tightness of the line work and the colors!! def not the terribly sloppy work of bill melendez of the last 20 yrs, the last of the great peanuts specials ended with its flash beagle charlie brown in my opinion!
        also it was really nice to see violet and patty in the ol’ neighborhood!!I can hope and assume that Frieda and her naturally curly hair will be back also!?.It will also be great to see and HEAR Peppermint Patty in her 1960s appearence.
        The voices where ok….the kids they got seemed such mild comparisons as the originals especially Lucy…pam Ferden gave Lucy her best Voice so finding an exact match will come with time and many more peanuts specials with Andy Beal and Frank Molieri !!

  • Gummo

    OMG, I am blown away by the warmth and the fidelity to Shulz’s designs and characters.

    Thank you so much.

  • Can’t wait to see this!

  • Clint

    This looks promising. I just saw the trailer and I think it’ll be awesome!

  • Looks like classic Bill Melendez, can’t wait to see it!!

  • MY GOD! They didn’t change a thing . . . and that’s just the way I like it!

  • wow! this looks great! I’m curious if how they are going to clean up the characters, whether it will be a really clean line or whether it will have that wiggly ink line look.

  • Giovanni Jones

    Wait a minute here…

    Charlie Brown and the gang aren’t
    fighting wrongdoers,
    flying through futuristic space,
    dancing to a surefire ’90s pop song,
    making savvy wisecracks to the “wah-wah-wah” teacher, getting “green” for a better tomorrow,
    or realizing that they’re “enpowered?”

    How could this happen without proper hands-on corporate supervision? Are there no “creative executives?” Are there no “brand management teams?”

    • AJ

      Caracters with personality an apealing art style, no scat jokes,good animation….something..subtle? Quick Jery hide this from Amid before he ruins this with negetivity

    • Killskerry

      Does “Its Arbor Day Charlie Brown!” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/It%27s_Arbor_Day,_Charlie_Brown count as getting green for a better tomorrow?

      • Giovanni Jones

        Well, you can count “Flashbeagle,” too, to be technical. Though I did like the LP album.

      • Gray64

        I am only slightly embarrassed to say I loved Flashbeagle when it came out, and the LP as well (which I checked out repeatedly from my local library). In my defense, I was 7.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        Me too. Being too young to have some critical opinion over something like this perhaps lead me to think Flashbeagle was just that good.

      • The Gee

        Ah. To be so easily entertained that you aren’t even aware of what a critical opinion is. Those were fun times.

        The pencil tests look good, the clips…I’ll reserve judgement on until I see if the sudden stops are distracting or not. i ignored it while watching King of the Hill, so….But, hopefully, it was just those clips and the animation flows as much as it needs to.

  • doop

    Wowowowowowwww! Amazing!

    I’d love to see another feature released one day with animation like this!

  • Bruce Wright

    That Lucy voice is SCARILY spot-on. It sounds exactly like Pamelyn Ferdin.

    Great to see this work. I agree, it’s like Schulz in motion.

  • This is wonderful and I am so happy to see this. Traditional animation is so beautiful to look at when it’s done properly.
    I can see one of my friend Roberto Casale’s scene in there, just great.
    Congratulations to the whole crew. I hope you make more.

  • Bronnie Barry

    I’ve been in this biz for many years, and while watching one’s hard work come to life on the screen never gets old,this particular project really stole my heart.
    I worked on it during the storyboard phase;to have been part of such a crew was an honor to say the least.:)

    • The Gee

      Right on.

      If you say it is something special then I will look forward to it.
      Take it easy.

  • Whenever you approach a project with a true passion in your heart for what you love it shines thru!! 

    You will have to wear sunglasses when watching this. Because it’ really  does shine!!
    Keep em boyzzz!! 

  • This looks great! I hope that the color style will remain flat and true to form as well as the great jazz soundtrack.

  • Amidst the insane chaos of my first animation job (Quest for Camelot), Andy Beall was welcoming, supportive, and generous with his time and talent. My Jewish friends would say he’s a mench, and my hippy friends would say he’s an old soul, wise and calm beyond his years. He’s definitely one of the good guys.

    This project looks great! Congratulations Andy and everyone else who worked on it — you should be very proud.

  • Ray Kosarin

    These tests look beautiful. They seem wonderfully faithful to the strip AND to the spirit of Melendez’s specials–which are as much a part of these characters’ history as the strip. Some of the tests look more full than Melendez’s animation, yet without torturing these characters with too many frills(squash, stretch, overwrought overlapping action) that would wreck the smart and spare simplicity Melendez’s team, at their best, discovered for them.

    So nice to see such heartfelt and respectful work. These characters deserve nothing less.

  • Ed

    This looks FANTASTIC! I hope they don’t ruin in with in-betweens.

  • dbenson

    It certainly looks good, but I’m waiting to see the final product. While the earliest specials played fast and loose with Schulz’s precise style, they did get the guts of the strip right and had a visual appeal of their own. I recall seeing some later specials that were much more on model but just . . . dull.

    • Completely in agreement. I want to see if the new special has LIFE!!

  • Xgeeme

    Excellent. A lot of variety in the acting. I sense a tiny bit more secondary action than Melendez’s animation- you can see it most clearly in Sally’s animation. Is it just me?

    • nope, youre right. I love it in the clip with Lucy talking smugly to Linus too. There is just the slightest follow through in her hair. so nice.

  • Dave

    Lifelong Peanuts fan, big fan of the animated specials from A Charlie Brown Christmas up through about the ones that came out in the 1980s. This looks absolutely wonderful! Can’t wait to see it. Congratulations and much future success to the creative team behind this. With a wealth of story line material available from Schulz’s work in the “golden era” of the 60s and 70s, I hope we’ll see more in the future. Keep up the good work.

  • Most all of those pencil tests are the work of Italian animator Roberto Casale. He REALLY understood what to do with this stuff (which isn’t as easy as one may think)! Andy and Frank both made this a super enjoyable experience!

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I’m kinda glad they’re at least putting a little more effort in-house on this one.

  • Stephen M. Levinson

    Wow! Beautiful animation! These characters are kept to their original designs and the pencil tests looks mind blowing.

  • Hold up! Snoopy got twitter?! Hopefully we get to see more characters in there (Schroeder, Marcy, Peppermint Patty), that’ll be nice. Lookin’ forward to seeing this!

  • This looks promising, and reminiscent of the 1967-69 Melendez productions, minus the squash and stretch the animators brought to Schulz’s characters that many here seem to dislike. I can’t quite understand all the Melendez bashing, as those specials, good, bad and mediocre helped keep Schulz’s characters in the public eye long after they stopped being the big thing they were in the 1960’s. Hopefully, this new production will give Peanuts a much-needed shot in the arm 11 years after Schulz’ passing.

    • Scarabim

      Well, the reason I stopped watching the Peanuts specials was because I didn’t like the way they were drawn, primarily. Schulz’s art – when he was on top of his game – was minimalist, expressive and charming. Melendez’s translation of that art too often looked scribbly and ugly. JMHO.

  • Graham

    I had the pleasure of having Andy as a teacher when I was in school. He’s a fantastic animator and a really nice dude. I’m sure he’s going to do a great job with this!

  • JMatte

    Completely charmed by these pencil tests. Looking forward to the DVD!

  • joecab

    Man they even brought Sally’s age back a smidge to where it was when the first Peanuts cartoons hit TV 50 years ago. This is fantastic.

  • Toonio

    Peanuts proved you don’t need fancy animations or over the top backgrounds to deliver your message.

    Bill Melendez must be smiling from up there.

  • Keegan

    Wow, looking at these pencil tests, I thought it was an original Peanuts movie!

    I can’t say the same about the actual trailer though, the animation looks like it’s done in Adobe Flash or something.

    That’s my only complaint though. Jokes seem sophisticated, which is crazy for today’s standards, I’m glad I didn’t have to cringe at any fart jokes or jokes about people’s mamas.

    • Scarabim

      Yes, I agree… the pencil tests seem to have a bit more soul in them than does the trailer…still, it’s an improvement over the specials, and may I say how nice it is to see Snoopy on all fours again! I suppose it’s asking a bit too much to be able to “hear” his thoughts, but hopefully, at least, he won’t have the squawky voice he did in the specials. I always hated that.

  • Karen

    Fantastic. Truly wonderful. It sure is nice to see Lucy being crabby again! Although the strip was sporadically interesting through the eighties, I pretty much stopped reading it when Schulz decided to not make Lucy crabby anymore.

  • OliverB

    Looks good but whoever that square composer is, he sure ain’t no Vince Guaraldi! I give them points for trying, but what kind of bland dishwater immitation for a jazz score is that supposed to be? like, snoresville!

  • Amble

    Has anyone seen the Graphic Novel adaptation of the special? It looks really good as well.

    • I ordered it from Amazon. Fun little book. Wait, it was actually longer than I thought it would be.

  • The Gee

    Up until he passed away, wasn’t Schulz involved with every special and the movies?
    So, don’t diss on Melendez for everything not being to your liking. Even if Schulz felt that hitting every holiday (yes, including Arbor Day) may have been a bit much, he did have a say in these things.

    So, if you are gonna come down on the amazing body of work that that studio did then don’t forget who said, “okay, that’s good enough. go for it.”


  • Who doesn’t like Peanuts. It’s good to see.

  • Cannot wait.

  • Wait a minute.

    Wasn’t the original title that Schulz came up with “Happiness is a Warm PUPPY?”

    Or did I (as usual) miss something..?

    • John A

      Yes that’s true. The first time the line appeared it was “Happiness is a Warm Puppy”.”Happiness is a Warm Puppy” was also the title of a book filled with other “Happiness is” cartoons. I used to have several shelves full of Schulz’s books. He was one of my heroes.(secret: my mother maiden name was also Schulz (same spelling)and I had always wished that we were somehow related.)

  • Fred Jackson


    Anyone that has followed the strip for any time will have noted that Schulz developed his drawing style over the years, compare the first strips to the last ones and one can see that the characters are quite different. Artists develop their style over time and Schulz “improved” his characters regularly. This model sheet is a throwback to an earlier style that Schulz had abandoned, one must wonder if he would have approved, note the shape of the heads, feet etc, I understand that he kept a close watch on the style of the Melendez films and was quite critical of the drawing style. What would he have thought of the decision to go back to a style he had rejected?

    I see from the trailer that it was obviously machine inked and painted so that the line quality is not the same as earlier films, (the same can be said of the latter Melendez films) but compare Linus’ head in this version to the Melendez versions, one hopes the action and story will make up for that. I don’t know who did the backgrounds but I don’t feel they stand-up to the Melendez quality. One thing I noticed that grates is the eyes of the characters, they look like fish eyes, they do not seem to have any focus.

    Finally, why abandon the Vince Guaraldi music that was so important to the whole feel of the Peanuts shows and films?

    • Schultz’s children had a LOT of input on style and substance for this special. As far as I know(I was a storyboard artist on this project, so I might know something), they were the ones that insisted on using the mid-60’s character designs for this show. Which I personally love, as I think Schultz’s style didn’t change for the better in the ’70’s onwards.

  • Brendan Spillane


  • Yvette Kaplan

    I love it and can’t wait to see the whole thing! Bravo to the skillful artists who worked with such a tender touch!

  • i just saw this new special last night and it is simply amazing. Not only is the visual style impressive but the script is fantastic. This show has a feel and a depth to it that only a few of the very, very early specials achieved. I love the majority of the Melendez films but this one just knocks it out of the park. My kids (7&5) thought it was outstanding also. The bonus features on the disc are also very insightful and mature.

  • The Gee

    After the first time I watched the promo vid I watched an unofficial video of the official trailer. For some reason things looked off but it was the wrong video.
    This time, I did manage to watch the official trailer.

    So, I gotta retract what I wrote about about the sudden stops. Some times the blanket comes to a rest bug me but hey, that probably is faithful to the strip so no harm, no foul. The problem is not it, it’s me.

    It does look really nice, for sure, for sure. Big thumbs up to visual gags.

  • Fran

    @Fred Jackson–perhaps Vince Guaraldi’s music was abandoned because he passed away years ago and those involved with this current cartoon didn’t want to just re-use those original themes.