The newest Charlie Brown animated special, Happiness is a Warm Blanket, has been adapted into a graphic novel.
Schulz’s classic comic strips featuring Linus’ beloved blanket have been collected, edited, colored, and reformatted to create a loosely plotted story featuring the familiar characters. The story begins with Linus’ desperate search for his buried blanket then immediately jumps to a flashback to the week before. We are introduced to many familiar Peanuts characters, Linus, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Schroeder, and Snoopy and learn how much Linus loves his blanket – and how useful it is. But poor Linus, doom is imminent. Not only is Snoopy determined to steal his blanket, his grandmother is coming for a visit and she doesn’t think he should have a blanket! But after many trials and tribulations, with a few side trips into Charlie Brown’s psyche and Lucy’s obsession with Schroeder, Linus succeeds in retaining his blanket.
Peanuts fans will recognize the plots and dialogue from many familiar strips, but the art has been adapted and reformatted into a variety of panels, making the story flow more like a graphic novel than a collection of comic strips. Some pages feature a sequence of incremental strips, showing minor changes, like Charlie Brown and Linus leaning on their brick wall and talking, oblivious to Snoopy’s repeated attempts to steal the blanket. Other pages have sets of conventional graphic panels or cartoon strips set around a central background or large open picture. The book is in full color, with some text highlighted in red and a variety of typefaces.
The book includes a behind-the-scenes look at the art of the new movie, with landscapes and character sketches.
Die-hard fans of Peanuts will probably be horrified at the thought of this new adaptation and apparent commercialization, but most readers are unlikely to notice the minor changes in the art – I couldn’t tell the difference, other than the color and new formats. I think most people will be excited to see a new version of the classic strips. The art feels familiar and friendly and this is a fun new incarnation to introduce kids to the classic characters.