I unabashedly loved The Peanuts Movie last year. And it wasn’t just nostalgia for Peanuts, which I do have but I genuinely thought it was a sweet, charming little film. And I’ve always said that the artistry didn’t get enough credit. Just because it was a familiar property I think people missed the hybrid animation trailblazing the film did. So naturally when I saw they had a Peanuts art book I had to jump right on that!
The Art of the Peanuts Movie starts with a forward from director Steve Martino where he talks about how he related to the entire Peanuts gang growing up. “Growing up in the Midwest, Charlie Brown’s neighborhood felt like my own…the gang were like friends that I visited on a daily baiss through the ‘funny pages'” He then talks about the specials and even a Charlie Brown sign on his coffee table growing up that read “Happiness is a Warm Puppy”. He is then honest about the huge pressure he felt in adapting this work that is beloved to many including himself. “It felt like I was carrying Schroeder’s piano, only it had grown to a grand piano”
Finally he was able to overcome his fears by a quote from Charles Schulz himself”One of the solutions is, as Charlie Brown does, just to keep on trying. He never gives up. And if anybody should give up, he should”. I’m not going to lie I teared up a bit reading his essay. I love when artists admit their fear of the art.
Next is another forward by Vanessa Morrison president of 20th Century Fox Animation. This is a little more corporate although she does express her love growing up on the series and reading it with her mother.
Then we get 2 articles about the legacy and new direction of Peanuts as well as early concept ideas. With all that done, we get into the main meat of the book where they dive into the process of making CG characters. It’s really cool. You see the mold making process and how the characters are designed.
The last section is mostly about the story and goes into incredible detail about how every facet was created and designed down to the posters and flags on Charlie Brown’s wall. That is so cool to learn about!
The Art of the Peanuts Movie is a great book because it is so rich. It covers the incredibly difficult task of adapting the strip to a movie, the design process of characters, and the story development and boarding process. You can learn about all sides of animation through this book and it will warm your heart to see such love going into a work of art. I think it might even give some people more respect for what they accomplished than the film is given. At least it does for me but I already loved it.
But definitely if you love the Peanuts and thought The Peanuts Movie was great you should pick up this art book. It’s fantastic!