Source: It Books, Harper Collins
Hardcover, 192 pages
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A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition by Charles M. Schulz is an in-depth look at how the television special, A Charlie Brown Christmas, was conceived and made. With the collaborative efforts of Charles M. Schulz, Lee Mendelson, and Bill Melendez, the cartoon special was put together in under four months from the green light to make it to the actual production film was screened. It finally aired in December 1965, and for nearly 50 years, the special has been an American tradition in households across the United States.
“‘We realized that Charlie Brown’s voice had to be “blah”; Lucy’s had to be assertive and even crabby; Linus’s would have to combine intelligence with childlike simplicity, as he was someone who cherished his thumb and blanker,’” said Lee Mendelson. (Page 19)
Readers will love learning about what Schulz wanted to include in the special, and how he insisted that his characters be brought to life by children rather than adult actors acting like children. Despite having felt that they’d accomplished what they set out to do with the special, they began to get nervous when the executives were less than enthusiastic about the final product and when the screening was met with silence and a handshake. But once the review from the screener appeared in the newspaper, the team realized the special was more successful than expected.
“This sense of alienation, personified in Charlie Brown, is one of the deeply personal yet universally shared feelings that Charles Schulz infused into each of the Peanuts characters. With simplicity and wit he pioneered new ground in comics with characters that reflect all the insecurity, anxiety, and joy of being human.” (page 37)
A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition by Charles M. Schulz is a unique look at the behind the scenes making of not only the special, but also of how Schulz created his characters and worked with others. The book not only includes reflections from his partners on the project, but also some of the storyboards, the music sheets, and production notes, as well as the complete script for the special.
About the Cartoonist:
Charles M. Schulz, nicknamed Sparky, was an American cartoonist, best known for the comic strip Peanuts. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential cartoonists of all time, cited as a major influence by many later cartoonists.