Review: 2019 It’s the Great Pumpkin adaptation

Animated Peanuts

Hallmark has unleashed another book adaptation of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and my copy has been sitting here literally for weeks, waiting for me to review it. The problem is that, as the latest of umpteen attempts to adapt this special into book form, there is only so much I can say (I save most of my deep dives for A Charlie Brown Christmas adaptations, of course!) So yes, it does efficiently convey the story of the TV special, but a half hour of television is a lot to cram into a short children’s book, and a lot of the back-and-forth bounce that makes the humor work is gone. This may be a good piece for kids who know the special and want to revisit it in their minds, but I don’t think that it would be as much fun for people who haven’t seen the special.

(Which leads me to an aside that adaptive works have notably declined in presence in recent years. It used to be that when a movie came out, you’d see novelizations, you’d see comic book adaptations, and so forth. While that still happens some with children’s films, you’re seeing a lot less of that.. presumably because of the development of the home video market. If there’s an interesting film, you know that in the long run you’ll be able to watch it any time you want, and so having a portable permanent print form is not nearly so compelling.)

The art, by Rich LaPierre, is well done (as it always is from him.) However, it’s being done in a style we’ve seen a few times now, where all the Schulzean linework is in place, but it’s not all run in black. Instead, most of the lines are in color in ways that blend them in more with whatever they’re adjacent to.

This has an interesting effect. Whereas with a Schulz drawing, the black dot for an eye means “here’s an eye”, with this various use of line color, the black dot of an eye conveys “here is a dark eye”.Now, dark eyes go very fine with the general coloration of the dark-haired Van Pelt family, but it seems out of place with the blond Browns. I’m still trying to decide whether it would make sense to give them a lighter color dot for the eye. (Among other things, it makes Charlie Brown look a but less adamant, more wishy-washy, which is appropriate.)

Some better color-theorist than I could probably find just the right color.
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