Andy Beall, who directed Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, began his talk with the statement that he felt that everyone working on this animation project was standing on the shoulders of giants—Charles Schulz, Bill Melendez, and Lee Mendelson.
He explained that it is the first new Peanuts animated special in five years. In 1999, Sparky was working on a show that centered on the game of marbles. In this show Charlie Brown finally becomes a hero, which Sparky felt the audience would really take to heart. This show later was titled, He’s a Bully, Charlie Brown.
Andy explained that making Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown was a learning process for the new team of over 150 artists in various technical fields.
He spoke of creating the model sheets for each character— important because the original model sheets from the 1960s no longer exist. He said they watched the classic shows over and over to get the shapes in the “turn arounds” right.
For the backgrounds they studied the summer scenes in Charlie Brown’s All Stars and tried to match the colors and mood of that special.
He also spoke of some of the potholes they hit in the production. One obvious one was the difficulty of translating his director’s comments through several layers of animation managers in Korea. Andy explained that a two-week trip to Korea to work with the animation team there really helped to solve much of the complicated communications. Andy was able to show a two-minute segment of the special, which he had shown at ComicCon in San Diego in July 2010.
A question and answer period followed, then Craig Schulz joined him and they both expressed their thanks to Warner Brothers for their partnership in this venture.
An audience member asked how the team decided on Snoopy’s voice since the passing of Bill Melendez, who was the voice for over forty-five years. Andy copped to being the voice, but also discussed how he listened over and over to—and tried to mimic—Melendez’s voice.
Another visitor commented that the television shows have a true family feeling, and asked how it was possible with a large group of new people to stay true to the earlier shows. I think Andy admitted that that was exactly their challenge, and it is the aim to get closer with each effort.