The new book adaptation of It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown is the latest in a series of hardcover versions of Peanuts animated specials, and like most such things, it’s value of the text is mostly in invoking the special for those who have seen it. Humorous moments are explained, but with the possible exception of some of Marcie’s egg-cooking attempts, the humor doesn’t survive being described.
What makes it an interesting souvenir book for the special is the images, and part of that is that these pictures do they exact opposite of what Peanuts animation does. Where the animated Peanuts took Schulz’s work and design and simplified it, so it could be recreated easily, Tom Brannon’s art (on this and the earlier books in the series) does the opposite. He takes Schulz’s design sense and adds more color depth, converting some of the black lines to color, filling with airbrushy modeling effects rather than flat tones. The overall effect of this is mixed; in the past I’ve complained about the five o’clock shadow that some of the characters seem to end up with. The shadow modeling on Charlie Brown’s face makes him look like he’s been rolling in the dirt. It doesn’t work toward the strength of cartooning, the immediacy of the black line. Detailed modeling makes the art look like realistic rendering of weird-looking people rather than cartoon rendering of normal people. But for all of that, some of the images are quite pretty; I could see them being a series of framed prints decorating the office of someone who was very serious about It’s the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown. Or maybe they could be design drawings for making a live-action Easter Beagle film. (I think you can write that on your list of Things That’ll Never Happen.)