November 2, 2018

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs Nov 21, 2018 + Charlie Brown in Macy's Parade

ABC will show A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, together with This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, from 8-9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on the evening before Thanksgiving - Wednesday, November 21, 2018.

And then on Thanksgiving Day itself (Thursday, November 22), the Macys' Thanksgiving Day Parade will feature the "Charlie Brown and his kite" balloon, returning for the third year in a row. The parade airs from 9 AM - noon (all time zones) on NBC.

October 31, 2018

Four-color Peanuts ... back in the day!

You've a treat in store, with the arrival of KaBOOM! Studios' Peanuts Dell Archive. It lands today at your favorite comic book store, and will be available next Tuesday (November 6) via brick-and-mortar bookstores, Amazon and other online retailers.


The 352-page anthology gathers Peanuts comic book stories published by Dell Comics -- and, briefly, Gold Key -- back in the 1950s and early '60s. And here's the detail that'll lift eyebrows: Only a small percentage of this material was handled by Charles Schulz.

Say what? I hear you cry.

To explain:

Whenever asked, Schulz repeated the statement that fans knew as a mantra: Unlike the case with other "assembly-line" newspaper comic strips, he remained the only person whose hands touched the adventures of Charlie Brown and the gang. Schulz wrote, drew, inked and lettered his strip from its debut on October 2, 1950, until it concluded on February 13, 2000. Similarly, Schulz always promised that the strip would cease production when he finally called it quits. Unlike other classic strips that have been revived, often by lesser talents, Peanuts will forevermore remain solely a Schulz legacy.

But that's true only for Peanuts as a newspaper strip.

Followers of this blog know that KaBOOM! studios has been publishing new Peanuts comic books and graphic novels for quite some time now, with scripts and art by talented individuals who've delivered entertaining new stories while honoring the tone and spirit of Schulz's work.

The same was true back in the day. For the full story, check out this web article.

Meanwhile, a brief summation:

Starting in the spring of 1952, Schulz's Peanuts newspaper strips began being reprinted in United Feature Syndicate comic books such as Tip Top Comics, Tip Topper, Sparkler Comics and United Comics (the latter eventually retitled Fritzi Ritz). UFS got out of the comic book publishing business at the end of 1954, and some of its titles were picked up by St. John in 1955, including Fritzi Ritz and Tip Top. Reprinted Peanuts newspaper strips continued in both.

Big changes came in late 1957, when Dell Comics (Western Publishing) took over from St. John. Peanuts continued in Fritzi Ritz and Tip Top, and also became a regular feature in Nancy (later retitled Nancy and Sluggo). The covers promised "All brand-new stories" ... and Dell meant it. No more newspaper strip reprints, and that included the Peanuts supporting features. But these four- and even eight-page comic book stories involved a lot of work, at a time when Schulz was incredibly busy; Peanuts was becoming a phenomenon, and he also was poised to debut his other newspaper strip, It's Only a Game. He therefore turned the bulk of the Dell Comics work over to Jim Sasseville and (later) Dale Hale, associates and good friends of his from the Art Instruction School in Minneapolis. They "ghosted" Schulz for several years, although -- here's the best part -- Schulz did handle some of the stories and art himself, as you can see from the four-page story we've included here.



During that time, Dell also granted Peanuts its own title: at first only occasionally, but eventually on a regular basis, as with the other books.

Starting in mid-1960, however, it became obvious that different hands had taken over the script and art chores. The stories became less faithful to the Peanuts that we know and love, and the artwork became ... well ... not such a much. Gold Key Comics took over the line in late 1962, and the Peanuts material limped along for slightly more than a year, before being canceled completely. (No doubt Schulz finally put his foot down, dismayed by the dismal turn his beloved characters had taken.)

This KaBOOM anthology gathers all the "new" Peanuts content from Nancy/Nancy and Sluggo, Tip Top, and Fritzi Ritz. It's a wealth of material, with each story dated (by source title), and the artist credited (when known). It's fascinating to chart the evolution of story and art over this seven-year span: from its origins as carefully ghosted material pretty much indistinguishable from Schulz's work, to the lesser quality of the final few years. 

This is roughly half of the Dell content: everything except all the stories that appeared in Peanuts' own comic book. If this initial anthology sells well, we can hope that KaBOOM is encouraged to present the rest in a second volume. So buy two copies, and give one to a friend!

Purists probably need to place all this work into the same category as the later television specials: interesting to see, but "not canonical" (which, I suspect, is the way Schulz himself viewed it). So, just as The Little Red-Haired Girl never appeared in the newspaper strip (silhouette notwithstanding) but did turn up in a TV special; and just as television granted Snoopy two additional siblings (Molly and Rover) never mentioned in the newspaper strip; Charlie Brown and his friends had lots of adventures -- some of them quite preposterous! -- in this "alternate universe" of Dell comic books.

October 8, 2018

We got a rock: Craft Recordings releases inferior It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown soundtrack album (Review)

This week, Craft Recordings (a division of Concord Records) is releasing what they are calling a soundtrack album of Vince Guaraldi's music to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The album will be released on CD on Friday, October 12; it's already available as a digital download from iTunes, Amazon, and other digital music stores, and also available on streaming services such as Spotify. A vinyl (LP) release has also been announced, but currently doesn't have a release date.

This might sound like exciting news to many Peanuts fans, given the great music Vince Guaraldi (and John Scott Trotter) composed for the classic television special. Unfortunately, it turns out the album is more trick than treat - it disappoints in content, quality, and length, and in my opinion, is best avoided and not worth adding to your collection.

The problems are due to the source used for the album. Unlike the music that appears on other Vince Guaraldi albums - such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and A Boy Named Charlie Brown - the tapes of the original musical recordings for the It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown special are lost and may well no longer exist.

So instead, Craft Recordings has used the "music and effects" track from the special to create this album. Basically, this the exact audio from the television show, just without the dialog.

That means while it does have the background music as it appears in the special, the tracks also have all the sound effects - for example, the thuds and bumps of Linus and Lucy rolling the pumpkin and cutting it up in the opening scene, Snoopy blowing on the leaf and the sound of Charlie Brown charging into and landing in the leaf pile in the next scene, and so on. While most of the tracks are affected to some degree, the worst is "Breathless," the music when Snoopy the WWI Flying Ace imagines he's crossing no man's land. This is one of the soundtrack pieces most requested by fans - but on this release, the subtle music is buried under various gunshots, sirens, and other sounds to give the ambiance of World War I.

(If you want to hear it for yourself, you can play all the actual tracks from this album on YouTube; in particularly, try Breathless.)

The music and effects track is also at least one, if not several, generations removed from the original music recordings, resulting in a noticeable loss of sound quality. While Craft Recordings' engineers have made some effort to remaster and restore the sound, one cannot create a miracle from a weak source, and the limitations show - there is distinct hiss in some tracks, some harshness, and volume fluctuations. The tracks are also all in mono (not stereo).

The final issue is that this new album presents the music exactly as it appears in the special.

Typically, when music is recorded for a television special or a movie, the musicians record longer, full pieces that are then edited down to fit the special as needed. On the Charlie Brown Christmas album, we hear the full music pieces, instead of the shortened versions that play in the background of the show. Unfortunately this isn't the case with the Great Pumpkin album, since the original recording session tapes (apparently) no longer exist.

Using the music as it was edited for the special results in numerous very short cues (many are just 20-30 seconds long), abrupt fades and transitions, and a general choppy feel to the whole thing; it's not a satisfying listening experience just based on this alone. The intrusive sound effects and overall poor audio quality make it even worse.

In fact, the entire album is extremely short: it's only a little over 20 minutes long (as the special itself only runs around 24 minutes). Having to pay full album price for only 20 minutes of music is very poor value. At the very least, Craft Recordings should have combined the album with the release of music from another special.

Nowhere in their press release - or on the album cover, front or back - do Craft Recordings make it clear that customers are getting a music and effects track instead of the original recordings. The Great Pumpkin would not be impressed with their sincerity.

Given that we all love the music from It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, I wish I could give a better report. But this album in no way does that music justice, or provides an enjoyable listen. Releasing it in this form is inexcusable, and Craft Recordings should be ashamed to have done so; it feels like a cash grab on unsuspecting fans. You'd be better off saving your money, and just listening to the audio track of the special itself again.

October 4, 2018

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs twice in October 2018 on ABC

ABC will show It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown twice in October 2018: first in an edited version on Thursday, October 18 from 8:00 - 8:30 PM, and then the full, unedited special together with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown on Friday, October 26 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM (all times Eastern/Pacific).

February 5, 2018

Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown & A Charlie Brown Valentine to air Friday, February 9, 2018 on ABC

Get together with your sweet babboo to watch the annual Peanuts Valentine's Day pairing on Friday, February 9, 2018:  ABC will be showing Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (1975) together with A Charlie Brown Valentine (2002) from 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) that evening.

December 1, 2017

A Charlie Brown Christmas airs again Dec 21, 2017 on ABC

The holiday season truly begins when A Charlie Brown Christmas airs for the first time on Thursday, November 30, 2017, from 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on ABC.

The classic special will air again on Thursday, December 21, 2017, also from 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on ABC.

The show will be uncut and accompanied by Charlie Brown's Christmas Tales both nights.

Also coming in December 2017 on ABC:

I Want A Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown - Saturday, December 16, 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific)

Happy New Year, Charlie Brown + She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown - Tuesday, December 26, 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific)

November 30, 2017

Dark Hall Mansion's 2017 A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition print

The good folks at Dark Hall Mansion know how to brighten up the season: they've announced another release in their long line of fine art prints celebrating the classic TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The prints feature a sweeping take on the special by artist Jeremy Pailler, who also created a matching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown prints for DHM a couple of months ago (which is still available from the Dark Hall Mansion webstore, along with some other recent Peanuts prints).

The prints are available in two versions - a standard and a "Christmas Moonlight" variant - and you can get both together in a smaller-sized pair as well.  See below for details and prices.

These limited edition prints go on sale Friday, December 1st, at 12:30 PM (Pacific time) at Dark Hall Mansion's webstore.

And be sure to keep an eye on on Dark Hall Mansion's social media sites in case they have more Christmas prints up their sleeve later in the month...

Standard edition
Variant edition


Edition runs, sizes, and prices
Standard Edition of 280 - 18" x  24" - $55
Variant "Christmastime Moonlight" Edition of 50 - 18" x 24" - $75
Gift Set of BOTH prints-Standard + Variant - in 9" x 12" format - $55

All editions are officially licensed by Peanuts Worldwide, strictly limited, giclee printed and hand numbered.

Visit Dark Hall Mansion's Facebook page, their Instagram feed, or their blog for more information, larger pictures of the artwork, and behind-the-scenes photos.

November 23, 2017

A classic Peanuts Christmas countdown on FiveCentsPlease.org for 2017

It's time again to join the Peanuts gang in counting down the days until Christmas. Starting Friday, November 24 and continuing every day through December 25, the FiveCentsPlease.org home page will feature a different, seasonally themed single panel.

Like previous years, we've visited the archives and selected a countdown from the past in order to continue this tradition. This time around we'll be featuring the panels from 2000 for your entertainment.

Please join us on our home page each day. We hope the Christmas countdown panels prompt a little smile every 24 hours, as they do for us.

November 4, 2017

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving airs Nov 22, 2017 + Charlie Brown in Macy's Parade

ABC will show A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, together with This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers, from 8-9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on Wednesday, November 22, 2017.

And on Thanksgiving Day itself (Thursday, November 23), the "Charlie Brown and his kite" balloon is returning for the second year in the Macys' Thanksgiving Day Parade.  You can watch the parade from 9 AM - noon (all time zones) on NBC.

October 27, 2017

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs Sunday October 29, 2017 + ratings note

Just a reminder that the full, unedited It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown will air Sunday, October 29, 2017 from 8 - 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific) on ABC. It will be accompanied by a shortened version You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown, as usual.

As you know, this year as in the past several Octobers, ABC has shown It's the Great Pumpkin twice, where the first showing is an edited version of the classic Peanuts special, paired with the made-for-TV spinoff Toy Story of Terror (based on a property owned by ABC parent company Disney). You may wonder, which gets better ratings, It's the Great Pumpkin or Toy Story of Terror?

You'll be pleased to hear the answer this year, as in 2015 and 2016, is It's the Great Pumpkin, which has outshone Toy Story of Terror each time. (Sources: 2017, 2016, 2015.) The second Great Pumpkin broadcast also always does respectably in the ratings.  Which may lead you to wonder, as we do, why ABC doesn't just air the full Great Pumpkin to begin with!  Oh well, better late than never...

October 9, 2017

Warner releases 4K Ultra HD version of the Peanuts Holiday Collection video box set

On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is releasing a new version of the Peanuts Holiday Collection video box set, titled Peanuts Holiday Collection Deluxe Edition 4K Ultra HD.

This latest incarnation of the set includes 9 animated Peanuts TV specials, supposedly on regular Blu-ray discs, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and digital copies. However, not all 9 specials are on all formats - see more below.  (DVDs are not included, but a DVD version of the set - albeit with fewer specials - has been previously released and remains available.)

If you're wondering what the heck 4K Ultra HD discs are and whether you need them, also see further below.

The 9 specials advertised as being in the set are as follows (each group appears together on one disc):

A Charlie Brown Christmas
It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown
It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
It's Magic, Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown's All-Stars
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving
This is America, Charlie Brown: The Mayflower Voyagers
Play It Again, Charlie Brown

This would be the first time 3 of these specials have been released in high definition (although, again, see important warning below). The new-to-HD specials are It's Flashbeagle, Charlie Brown; Charlie Brown's All-Stars; and Play It Again, Charlie Brown.

Warning: despite the PR and the back box cover implying that all 9 shows - including the 3 that are new to high definition - are on both the Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs in the set, that is not the case. Only the A Charlie Brown Christmas Blu-ray disc includes 3 shows; the Great Pumpkin and Thanksgiving Blu-ray discs are copies of the old Blu-ray discs, with only 2 shows each.  Which means that the only way to see 2 of the 3 new-to-HD shows is if you have an Ultra HD disc player.  This apparently is the case will all sets currently shipping; I do not know if this is intended, or a mistake.  If I find out more, I will update this blog post.

The discs also include the "behind-the-scenes" featurettes that were created when Warner Bros. first released the specials on DVD in 2008.  (They have appeared previously on all other Warner DVD and Blu-ray releases as well.)  There are no new behind-the-scenes features.

The box set retails for $44.98 SRP.

Given the fact that the new-to-HD specials do not appear on the Blu-ray discs of this set, you should buy it only if you want the Ultra HD discs.

* * *

The three Ultra HD Blu-ray discs mark the first time that the Peanuts specials have been released in 4K Ultra HD with HDR, which theoretically has four times the resolution and better colors than regular HD and Blu-ray.

However, you need a 4K-enabled Ultra HD Blu-ray player and a 4K TV to take advantage of this. The Ultra HD discs will not play in regular, older Blu-ray players.

If you don't have a 4K Blu-ray player and/or TV, you could still use the three Blu-ray discs that are also included - but you will not get to enjoy the 3 new-to-HD specials this way (see warning above).

You might be wondering, can the Peanuts specials actually look better when viewed in 4K Ultra HD than in just regular high definition? It seems doubtful - the regular 1080p high definition picture on the Blu-rays already reveal pretty much all the details available in the source material.  Most of these shows were created on a budget in the 1960's and 1970's... so it is unlikely that, beloved as they are, they will be the best material to showcase the extra details of 4K resolution.

* * *

Each holiday special will also be released individually as separate releases containing an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc, a regular Blu-ray disc, and digital copy. Although again, likely only the Ultra HD disc includes both bonus shows; the Blu-ray discs may only include 1 bonus show.  The individual 4K releases have a retail price of $29.98, so getting the set with all 9 shows is a much better deal. The individual releases dates are September 26 for It's the Great Pumpkin, October 24 for A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, and October 31 for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown to air October 19 and 29, 2017 on ABC

ABC will be broadcasting It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown twice in October 2017:  first in an edited version on Thursday, October 19 from 8:00 - 8:30 PM, and then the full, unedited special together with You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown on Sunday, October 29 from 8:00 - 9:00 PM (all times Eastern/Pacific).

October 3, 2017

Dark Hall Mansion's 2017 It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition prints

This year Dark Hall Mansion are offering up two different It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown prints from two different artists, Shaunna Peterson and Naoshi.  As you can see, both are full of vibrant color and numerous scenes from the beloved television special.

Each print is available in two color variations and two different sizes, as described below.

These limited edition prints go on sale Wednesday, October 4th, at 12:30 PM (Pacific time) at Dark Hall Mansion's webstore.

Shaunna Peterson standard edition
Shaunna Peterson variant edition
Naoshi standard edition
Naoshi variant edition

Shaunna Peterson editions
Standard Edition of 180 in 12" x 36" $55
Standard edition of 100 in 6" x 18" $25
Variant Edition of 50 in 12" x 36" $85
Variant edition of 50 in 6" x 18" $25

Naoshi editions
Standard Edition of 100 in 18" x 24" $55
Standard edition of 50 in 9" x 12" $25
Variant Edition of 50 in 18" x 24" $85
Variant edition of 50 in 9" x 12" $25

All editions are officially licensed by Peanuts Worldwide, strictly limited, giclee printed and hand numbered.

Visit Dark Hall Mansion's Facebook page, their Instagram feed, or their blog for more information, larger pictures of the artwork, and behind-the-scenes photos.

August 28, 2017

Peanuts by Schulz: School Days DVD, with 29 more Boomerang Peanuts shorts, released Aug 29

Warner Home Video has now released a third DVD containing Peanuts shorts that aired on the cable channel Boomerang last year. Titled Peanuts by Schulz: School Days, the 2-disc set includes 29 more of the shorts, with a total runtime of 3 hours 27 minutes.

(The initial press release for this DVD incorrectly said it only included 19 shorts.  However, the front and back cover confirm that the actual number included is 29 shorts.)

The shorts were created by French animation studio Normaal Animation and first aired in France in 2014, and then in the United States in 2016; there are 104 in all. Each short is 6-7 minutes long, and is based directly on the comic strips by Charles Schulz. Drawn in a traditional 2D animation style, they were designed to be reminiscent of the printed comic page. The shorts were newly dubbed into English for the United States broadcast and DVD releases.

The 29 shorts included on the DVD set are as follows (note that the order of the shorts on the DVD is not the same as the Boomerang broadcast order):
Miss Othmar
Novel Idea
Have a Nice Day, Linus
Technical Difficulties
The Eye of the Beholder
A Friend Indeed
It's Raining, It's Pouring
Frieda
The School of Hard Knocks
A Little Nap
On the Campaign Trail
Leave Me in Peace
The Last of the Bunch
True or False
Beauty Contest
Best Friend
School Chums
Back to School
Sally
Go to School!
Marcie
It's Just No Good
Get Lucky
School Anxiety
Keep Your Chin Up, Charlie Brown
Too Cute
Colors
School Tomorrow
Problems
(For a complete list of all 104 broadcast episodes, and a few additional details about the shorts, visit the Peanuts Animation & Video Page.)

Between this and the previous two DVD sets (Peanuts by Schulz: Snoopy Tales and Peanuts By Schulz: Go Team Go), 80 of the 104 Boomerang shorts are now available on DVD. 

Peanuts By Schulz: School Days was released on August 29, 2017, has a suggested retail price of $18.94, and can be ordered now from on-line retailers such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, or Target.com.


Looking further ahead, on October 10, Warner will be releasing a 4K Ultra HD version of the Peanuts Holiday Collection with 9 specials on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs. It will be the first high-definition home video release for three of those specials. Look for more details in future blog post.

April 30, 2017

Peanuts By Schulz: Go Team Go! DVD, with 19 more Boomerang Peanuts shorts, now available

Peanuts By Schulz: Go Team Go!, a 2-disc DVD set containing 19 more of the new Peanuts shorts that aired on the cable channel Boomerang, is now available from Warner Home Video. This is the second DVD set of the shorts Warner has released.

The shorts were created by French animation studio Normaal Animation and first aired in France in 2014, and then in the United States in 2016; there are 104 in all. Each short is 6-7 minutes long, and is based directly on the comic strips by Charles Schulz. Drawn in a traditional 2D animation style, they were designed to be reminiscent of the printed comic page. The shorts were newly dubbed into English for the United States broadcast and DVD releases.

The 19 shorts included on the DVD set are as follows (note that the order of the shorts on the DVD is not the same as the Boomerang broadcast order):
No Strings Attached
Snoopy the Superstar
Don't Worry, Charlie Brown
Show Dog
Good Sports
Doing It Right
Like Skates on Ice
Tennis
Even-ing the Score
School Is Out
Black and White
The Great Outdoors
Strike Out
Autumn Is Here
A Bad Mood
Amateurs
Team Spirit
Trust Me
Creepy Crawlies
(For a complete list of all 104 broadcast episodes, and a few additional details about the shorts, visit the Peanuts Animation & Video Page.)

Peanuts By Schulz: Go Team Go! was released on April 25, 2017, has a suggested retail price of $18.99, and can be ordered from Amazon.com or any other online retailer (barnesandnoble.com, target.com, walmart.com, bullmoose.com, etc.).