Snoopy, Charlie Brown, and Peppermint Patty will return to the silver screen in November 2015, timing that coincides with the 50th anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas, perhaps the most beloved cartoon in television history. But how will the new feature film — with 3-D, CG animation — compare to the hand-drawn charms of that 1965 small-screen classic? Or to the Charles Schulz comic strip that possessed an especially elusive brand of whimsy?
When Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip premiered in October 1950, it couldn’t have been more different from the comic strips stacked around it — among them Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant, Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon, and Roy Crane’s Captain Easy — and maybe that’s why the initial public response could be summed up as a national shrug. That changed, of course, and the strip became the untouchable but beloved titan of its medium appearing in 2,600 newspapers in 21 languages reaching a collective readership north of 350 million.
The brand remains a powerhouse (Schulz ranked with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe as far as posthumous moneymakers in pop culture), which set the stage for the film being made by Fox Animation’s Blue Sky Studios, the Connecticut team behind the Ice Age hit films and Horton Hears a Who. To get some long-view perspective on the project and the property, we reached out to Andrew Farago, curator of the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco, and asked if CG will work for Peanuts.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It’s hard to get your arms around the singular and sustained success of Peanuts because it’s hard to find a comparison to it. Like Carson or Cronkite, Schulz had his own spot in the pipeline and that doesn’t happen now, really.
Andrew Farago: It’s hard to imagine any comic strip taking hold today the way that Peanuts has for several generations. Any 8- or 80-year-old knows what a security blanket is, or who Peppermint Patty’s best friend is, or “Good Grief!” and “Curse you, Red Baron!” Charles Schulz was beloved by millions — and that’s a conservative number — worldwide, and everyone knows Charlie Brown and Snoopy. If Schulz had been more comfortable in the public eye, he could have been another Walt Disney in terms of universal celebrity. But he was always about the work, and letting his characters speak for him, and I get the impression that’s exactly how he wanted it.
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