Both ship in April, and are available for preorder now.
I stumbled across this Amazon listing for a print-on-demand Charlie Brown and Snoopy coloring book. Seemed a little odd for a Peanuts coloring book to be published that way. After all, there are plenty of Peanuts coloring books published through traditional means, so it doesn’t need the print-on-demand advantage in handing low print-run books.
Then I note the listing of the author as “Mrs. Beatrice Harrison“, which would be an uncommon way of listing the author on anything, and particularly odd on a Peanuts-related item like this, which would normally be credited to Schulz. So I clicked through on the author name, and found that she has been quite a busy author this month, producing coloring books and picture books on a host of licensed products – various Disney properties, Hot Wheels, Garfield, Simpsons, Yogi Bear, both Marvel and DC superheroes, and so forth. Of the ten customer reviews her books have gotten, there are eight 1-star reviews (on a scale of 1 to 5), one 2-star, and one 5-star (reviewing a Kindle edition).
I would be very surprised if Mrs. Harrison has appropriately licensed this material…
I’ve pointed a couple of the rightsholders toward these. We’ll see how long they’re available for.
People sometimes ask me if I own any original Schulz Peanuts art; alas, I do not. I have a nice little collection of comic book and strip art, but nothing that valuable. What I do own, however, is the originals to a couple of Peanuts-referencing gags, including this one that I thought would be appropriate to share now, as we are now in the key Peanuts special season. Thanks go out to writer Derek McCulloch, who with artist Mike Bannon created this for the TV parody comic To Be Announced, for his kind permission to display this.
- Today would’ve been Schulz’s 91st birthday.
- Tomorrow (Wednesday), the ABC Family cable network will air all four of the Peanuts animated theatrical films (although not in their original release order.) Their website says this runs 4 PM to 10 PM, but you may have to check your local time zone.
- A new cover design has appeared for the upcoming Fantagraphics strip collection Batter Up, Charlie Brown!
- There’s a new CD release of the music from A Charlie Brown Christmas. This one is called the Snoopy’s Doghouse edition, because the disc sleeves unfolds to make Snoopy’s doghouse, with some of the Peanuts kids there to stand in front of it. Ya can’t do that with an MP3!
My pal Mark Evanier is reporting the death of comics creator Al Plastino. Al was a talented creator with long runs in both comic books and comic strips (he did strips ranging from “Batman” to “Nancy”), and curious assignments in each realm. In comic books, his best known odd assignment was to redraw the heads of Superman in the comic books the great Jack Kirby was drawing, but the thing that lands him on this blog is his odd comic strip assignment: he was the guy who would’ve taken over Peanuts. Sources differ on just when he was lined up to do so, but the most likely time was during hte 1970s, when Schulz’s contract was up for renegotiation. Schulz did not own Peanuts; the strip was owned by United Features Syndicate, and if Schulz had left, they could have had someone continue the series. Plastino drew a batch of strips, ready to be dropped in in if negotiations failed… but, of course, the syndicate ironed everything out with Schulz, so there was no need for the Plastino strips to see the light of day.
I’ve seen a couple of the Plastino strips. The drawing isn’t bad – it wouldn’t pass as being Schulz, but it was a reasonable look for a substitute artist that was not jarring with what had gone before. As for the writing, it didn’t feel like Peanuts. The characters were off there, the texture of the humor was wrong. (Edited to add: I should note that Plastino did have substantial runs on two other long-running humor strips, “Ferd’nand” and “Nancy”.)
I’m glad Mr. Plastino was around and contributed as much as he did to the field of comics… but I’m also glad that Peanuts did not end up being part of that contribution.