November 28, 2012

Book Review: A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Making of a Tradition

A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Making of a Tradition by Lee Mendelson with reminiscences by Bill Melendez

10,000 drawings make up this half hour, animated holiday classic that took only 6 months to create. Each frame was hand drawn and painted. No computers.

In 1965, after seeing the preview the 2 CBS executives decided it was a mistake to animate the Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz and they decided it would run only one time. Hmmm....

In this book, you’ll read and see how the animation came to life with sketches, storyboards and personal anecdotes. Charles Schulz was fiercely loyal to his producer Lee Mendelson and his animator Bill Melendez. He wouldn’t let anyone else animate his drawings. This book covers the talented jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi too.

Living in a time, when everything seems to get over analyzed (even before it's been completed sometimes) it’s refreshing to read about these creative artists and a simpler process. The three- Charles (nickname Sparky), Lee and Bill met only a few times for two hour meetings during the making of the animation. Lee reflects how Charles would say, “Here’s the story, go do it.” It was a real joy to read this book.

Charles Schulz once told his producer “Charlie Brown is the way I am and Snoopy is the way I wish I could be.” 


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