R.I.P. Bill Melendez

Bill Melendez, the animator who brought the Peanuts characters to screens big and small, turning out some of the most beloved cartoons, passed away yesterday, at 91.

I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Melendez on a couple occasions. He was happy, friendly, and even in his later years, an intense worker. He brought life and motion to Peanuts in a way that wasn’t just Schulz but wasn’t unSchulz either. I’m reminded of it every time my three year old daughter watches A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (which she does once or twice a week these days) and melts in uncontrollable laughter during Snoopy’s fight with the chair.

Bill also performed voices for both Snoopy and Woodstock, which (paired with the instrumental mute used to make the teachers’ voices) became part of a great unintelligible voice cast.

Bill’s work went far beyond Peanuts, of course. Early on, he worked for Disney and Warners, and would go on to work on a huge number of commercials, and worked on TV versions of Garfield, Cathy, and more.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that donations should go to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

A decade back, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek bio of Bill for a banquet honoring him. You can find that here.

Peanuts back in space!

The Peanuts folks have put out a press release announcing a new effort with NASA, the National Air and Space Administration, about their plans to generate new educational content and a school curriculum for teaching about deep space exploration. They say that more details will be released at Comic-Con next week. This …

Schulz/Peanuts news
Guess who just bought a big chunk of Peanuts??

The Hollywood Reporter is Hollywood reporting that entertainment giant Sony just bought 39% of the holding company that exists to hold the rights to Peanuts. They bought just short of half of the share that DHX Media bought a year ago. This means that the ownership breaks down like this: …

Schulz/Peanuts news
Peanuts Global Artist Collective

Now this is cool! The Peanutsy folks have announced the Peanuts Global Artist Collective, an international public art effort were seven selected artists/teams are doing public art using the Peanuts characters. They’re permitted to do their own interpretation of the characters, or to use Schulz art, or to mix things together …