“The world changes, but simple human emotions don’t,” says Kathy Magrane, president of the 28-year-old Peanuts Collectors Club.
She believes that is one reason the classic comic strip, which features the antics of Charlie Brown and company, remains as relevant today as when it debuted more than 50 years ago.
In March, Warner Home Video released “Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown,” the first Peanuts special in five years and the seventh since creator Charles Schulz died in 2000.
Craig Schulz assumed his father’s mantle and served as co-writer and producer for the 45-minute special, which uses language directly from vintage Peanuts comic strips.
In “Happiness is a Warm Blanket,” Linus learns that his grandmother is planning to visit and wants to rid her grandson of his cherished security blanket. Lucy and Charlie Brown also try unsuccessfully to break Linus’s blanket addiction.
“Every generation can find someone they can identify with,” Schulz says, noting that he strived to maintain his father’s original vision in the new production.
The concept for the special came from original comic strips written in the 1960s, a time that Derrick Bang, who has written two books about Charles Schulz, refers to as the “golden window” for the comic.
Workers involved in the production process went to great lengths to create a ‘60s look to the animation, aiming for simplicity rather than the dramatic special effects often seen in today’s animated films, Schulz says.
Though the special is based on comic strips that are more than 40 years old, Bang predicts that viewers will identify with the content because Schulz was careful not to time stamp his work.
“One of the things that always impressed me about the strip is that it could make readers feel nostalgic about a childhood they’ve never experienced,” he says.
Schulz hopes the new special will entertain old fans and attract new fans.
“We’re trying to capture fans of all ages,” he says. “If you can’t make them laugh and cry, we haven’t met our goals.”