During the 1970s, United Feature Syndicate planned for the possible loss of Charles Schulz’s services by having comics artist Al Plastino draw up some original Peanuts strips. Long hidden away, and rumored destroyed, I’d only seen one of these reproduced in the past, and now this blog posts shows a couple of them. They are clearly an imperfect recreation of Schulz in both art and tone.
It wasn’t the oddest comics job Plastino ever did. Back when Jack Kirby, artistic cocreator of Captain America, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, the Avengers, and so many more of the famed Marvel characters, had moved from Marvel to DC, they had him take over a comic book called Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen (yes, really). And while Kirby brought a lot of his special energy to the series, the publishing company thought his Superman too off-model, and brought in Plastino to redraw Superman’s head every time it appeared.
So he reworked Kirby, the most respected of comic book artists, and was prepped to replace Schulz, the most respected of strip artists. That’s quite a résumé right there! (And of course not the only things of note which Plastino did over his
(Plastino’s website claims that he was brought in to ghost Peanuts while Schulz was dealing with heart surgery in the 1980s; I think the samples at the blog post make it clear that had any of his strips been used then, they would be detectible as his work rather than Sparky’s.)