John Lennon and Charles Schulz had very different ideas about happiness.
In March, new imprint Kaboom! launches the first volley in its new Peanuts initiative with an all new graphic novel called Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown. The 80 page story is "written" by the late Charles M. Schulz and adapted by his eldest son Craig Schulz and Stephan Pastis, with art by Bob Scott, Vicki Scott and Ron Zorman. This all coincides with the direct to video release of an animated feature of the same name on March 29th. While Peanuts strips and witticisms have been collected in book form for decades, this is being billed as the very first original graphic novel to feature the beloved characters. The title itself harkens to an earlier Schulz quote that's become synonymous with the property, "Happiness is a warm puppy." Throw in the iconic comma Charlie Brown direct address tag, and you've got yourself an authenticated addition to a cherished franchise.
What's most striking about this preview is the lovingly rendered retro style. Other Peanuts creations in the wake of Schulz's death in 2000 (that Rerun Christmas special, the MetLife commercials) have a polish that tends to betray Sparky's hand drawn quiver. This stuff looks like lost material from the late 50s or early 60s. Just look at Snoopy's elongated head. The character models are derived from a period a little earlier than the style of the licensed images we're so used to seeing on t-shirts and coffee mugs. And that's pretty cool. As for the writing itself, Kaboom!'s press release is careful to note that the idea of a Peanuts story not scripted entirely by Schulz isn't a new, untested idea. Schulz oversaw the creation of similar works throughout his lifetime. So this is by no means glorified fanfic. This is an exciting new project with full involvement from the Schulz family, and something produced with a clear attention to detail and love for the characters. Simply put, it's a chip off the ol' blockhead.
80 pages, color, hardcover, 7"x10", $19.99. Look for it, March 29th.