I tweeted out the cover to Kop Op, Charlie Brown the other day, as part of a series of ridiculous Peanuts items. And after a comment from a respected member of the comics profession noting that it must be a trace, I tweeted out what was clearly being traced, the cover to Let’s Face It, Charlie Brown!
Now, that cover is not Schulz at his best; it looks more like a panel that was enlarged than an image that was drawn to be a cover, with small details a bit sloppier than we’d normally see in a Schulz cover. But it’s still clearly Schulz, and the traced version is clearly Not Schulz, even though they’re really not that different.
Of course, it’s easy to look at the melty head and realize that it’s wrong. but even if you lop off Charlie Brown’s head, I’d still be able to tell it’s not Schulz, and not just because Schulz so rarely lops off characters’ heads. It might even take me a while to be able to put into words how I know it’s not Schulz, but here’s the thing: Schulz is delicate. It only has to be a little bit wrong to be very wrong.
Looking at the two covers, I can certainly point out specific differences – the copy has too even a line weight, the toes of the shoes don’t bulge, and so on. But they’re all just little things that show that whatever movement was built into Schulz’s wrist is not built into every artist’s wrist.
(That’s one of the thing that gets me incensed about some of the forged Schulz art that I see on Peanuts sites. I’m made at the forger for forging, and I’m a bit mad at the purchaser for loving Peanuts enough to spend hundreds of dollars on art, yet still not be enough of a fan to spot the phony.)