Based on comic strips by Charles M. Schulz
Script by Stephan Pastis and Craig Schulz
Layouts by Vicki Scott
Pencils by Bob Scott and Vicki Scott
Inks by Ron Zorman
96 pages, color
Published by Boom! Studios
One of my top five favorite comic strips is, without a doubt, Peanuts. And in terms of the great Peanuts multimedia empire, there’s been a lot to love over the years. (Watching A Charlie Brown Christmas happens in my home every December, for starters.) So a new graphic novel based off a new direct-to-DVD animated special? Well, I certainly had to take a look and see just what we were offered up.
Peanuts: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown! is published by Boom! Studio’s all-ages imprint Kaboom!, and with hindsight I should have pegged that this was not a book aimed at me. Not because it’s dumbed down or particularly juvenile, but rather, because it’s aimed at the newer reader for Peanuts rather than a long-time fan. The feature is an adaptation of popular Peanuts stories by Charles M. Schulz, and as a result the book does the same. So as Linus is given a one-week deadline to stop carrying around his blanket, I found myself nodding along to the different vignettes because they were all familiar. For instance, the classic sequence where Linus shows why children at school don’t tease him about his blanket will ring true to any Peanuts fan, but for a new reader it’s still funny.
It’s because the jokes are still entertaining that I found myself ultimately not minding that I’d seen this all before. Sort of like a band releasing a greatest hits album, just because all of these moments that I’ve seen before are showing up again doesn’t make them any less entertaining the second time around. Stephan Pastis and Craig Schulz thread their story around Linus’s looming deadline before his grandmother arrives and takes away his blanket, but they wisely include some shorter subplots to give the rest of the cast things to do. So we get some of the tried-and-true elements; Charlie Brown trying to fly his kite and failing, Lucy romantically pursuing Schroeder, and Pig-Pen’s general filthiness. It’s a nice way to be able to cut away and then return to Linus’s story, and keep things moving. The one downside to this, though, is that Pastis and Schulz’s subplots, unlike that of Linus’s grandmother arriving, can’t by definition have any sort of resolution. It’s a problem that stands out in part because of the main plot having an end point; it wraps up, but nothing else has changed.
Still, it’s a nice looking and innocent enough book. Vicki Scott, Bob Scott, and Ron Zorman ape Charles M. Schulz’s style well, with the familiar round-head of Charlie Brown, Snoopy’s grins and winks to the audience, and the snarl of kite string when Charlie Brown ultimately wipes out. There are a couple of nice bits to try and mimic some of the animation from the feature, like the multiple images (with no panel borders) of Charlie Brown running across the hill with his kite in tow, or the double-exposure of Snoopy whipping Linus through the air. It’s a cute looking comic, and while on the whole it’s exactly what you would expect, I think the art team stayed exactly within the parameters of Peanuts and successfully transferred the animated feature to a printed form.
Peanuts: Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown! isn’t a brand-new Peanuts story, although to be fair I think most Peanuts fans would find that bordering on heresy. So while the long-time readers might find little new with this book, for a new reader it’s a warm and welcoming way to show them what Peanuts is all about. Once they’re done, though, it might be worth breaking out some of the gorgeous collections from Fantagraphics, and let them experience the material direct from the source. All parties involved do a good job here, but at the end of the day, the best is still the real thing.