I’ve not written any blogs on price alerts before, but this seemed Charlie Brown and Snoopy art by Dean Spille, and Peanuts art signed by producer Lee Mendelson, who passed away in 2019, seemed a good time to start!
These Peanuts art pieces are all based on Dean Spille storyboard color keys, so they are based on Peanuts production art from the history of Snoopy and Charlie Brown TV specials and features.
The Sopwith folks are loathe to increase prices. They’d rather just sell the pieces out and call it a day, but as many of you know, the pandemic put a wrench in prices all up and down retail and wholesale. We’ve been reeling from the price increases in the wholesale for custom framing and moulding supplies. There are mouldings that cost more wholesale than we had them listed for retail! Sopwith has had that same trouble with printing supplies and wholesale printing. They can’t continue selling any of their pieces at the current prices, so AS OF MONDAY, MAY 22nd, (YES, 3 days from now!!) all the art will have a price increase between $100 and $300.
The Lee Mendelson-signed art “Triple Play” is on alert, as there are only 10 more available, so we bought as many as we were allowed, but will sell them very quickly, since we’re selling them at $750 until 11:59 Sunday night.
On Monday, the price will increase to $1000. Click below or HERE to find out more.
The rest of the Dean Spille Peanuts limited editions will also have a price increase on Monday. None of these pieces are signed by Dean (who lived in France for 40 years, and died March 8th, 2021), but this is a rare opportunity to own a limited edition image based on production art by the artist!
For people who love all things Peanuts, and love Snoopy, Charlie Brown and friends, these are a wonderful addition to a Peanuts art or Peanuts collectibles collection. There’s so much history behind these images! You can read all about Dean Spille HERE, and you can watch Lee Mendelson in his interview with Leslie (co-owner of ArtInsights and rabid Peanuts fan) below:
One of my favorite releases by Sopwith Productions, who release all the official Peanuts art from the animated specials, is “Snoopy’s Audition”, from everyone’s favorite Christmas cartoon, the ultimate mood stabilizer, A Charlie Brown Christmas. It’s one of the early limited editions created and designed by Peanuts animator and director Larry Leichliter, and especially the layout drawings capture one of the best scenes from the cartoon. Here is the limited edition set:
Here is the trailer for the cartoon, which shows a tiny snippet of the sequence used for the limited edition… (although, let’s be honest, we ALL remember the scene, right?)
But enough selling, let’s talk a bit about A Charlie Brown Christmas, the best Christmas cartoon with the best score EVAH!
First off, of course there would be no Peanuts animated specials at all without Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez. Lee Mendelson was the executive producer of many Peanuts specials, but he started out his association with all things Peanuts by approaching Charles Schulz about making a documentary about him and his Peanuts comic strip. He had just done a doc on Willie Mays called A Man Named Mays:
Charles Schulz, or ‘Sparky’, as his friends called him, had watched and enjoyed it, so they collaborated on the documentary A Boy Named Charlie Brown in 1963. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola approached Mendelson about producing an animated Christmas special for tv, and he immediately called Sparky about creating something featuring the Peanuts characters. Schulz suggested using Bill Melendez, who had worked with Sparky creating some Peanuts Ford Motor Company commercials. Networks weren’t interested in the special.
Then, in April of 1965, the Peanuts characters graced the cover of Time magazine, which increased interest in an animated special, and the clock started ticking. Mendelson and Schulz created an outline for a special in less than a day.
April 9th, 1965 Time Cover
They created the first and most classic cartoon in only 6 months, with the script having been whipped together in only a few weeks. and it aired on December 9th, 1965. Schulz built the idea around ‘the meaning of Christmas’, interspersed with scenes of skating, something he did as a child. He also included a substantive scene in which a bible verse is quoted, and though there were a few specials that specifically mentioned Christianity, this was the first animated cartoon to incorporate religion in its plot and structure.
It won both an Emmy and Peabody Award. It got both high ratings and critical acclaim. Lee Mendelson actually wrote the lyrics to the Christmas classic ‘Christmastime is Here’ in only minutes.
It is so fitting that Mendelson wrote such an enduring Christmas classic, as, in a bittersweet endnote, Lee just died on Christmas Day of 2019. I interviewed him about his work a few years ago, and you can watch him talk about all this himself (and watch me all excited talking to him!):
The cartoon was anything but ordinary. They did a lot of ‘outside the box’ decisions as part of it, like hiring voice actors that were children, having no laugh track (Schulz’s idea), and using jazz as the soundtrack. It seems to all make sense now, since we’ve seen it so many times (it has played every year at Christmas since 1965) but at the time everyone thought it would fail miserably.
I talked to Bill Melendez’s son Steve about working on the Christmas special, and he relates how he came up with the scene with Linus sharing the message of Christmas onstage.
Since Larry Leichliter is responsible for the design of the new limited edition as well as the storyboard that accompanies it, I asked him about his love of the Christmas special, and about creating the storyboard.
What makes “A Charlie Brown Christmas” special to you?
Larry: “First of all It’s a Christmas cartoon. Not that I love every Christmas cartoon, but it’s Peanuts, and I’ve always loved Peanuts. What makes it special and have such longevity is not the nostalgia of remembering being a kid and watching this show for the first time, although that’s a wonderful memory. I think for all of us, It’s a story that forever rings true.
I love watching Charlie Brown wrestle with his problem, with the help of his friend Linus. His encounters with the realities of the world and its insensitivity to his plight are tragic and funny and he makes me root for him every time. Then there is Linus, who sticks by him like a true friend. He ultimately always shows him the way to his answer and a release from his problem.”
Who is your favorite character in Peanuts?
“Linus has always been my favorite Peanuts character. The combination of his vulnerability (he is a thumb-sucking, blanket-hugging child, after all) and his knowledge and philosophical beyond-his-years personality is irresistible. He is Charlie Brown’s truest friend. Even Snoopy isn’t as loyal.”
How did you compose the storyboard, and what do you love about creating them? it really captures a moment fans love from the cartoon.
“Thanks! I love showing some of the “behind the scenes” elements of making cartoons. In this case, I couldn’t decide right away just what moment of the skating scene would be ideal for our project, so it was suggested that I might pose out the “crack the whip” sequence in a story board. Then it was just a matter of showing the characters adding onto the chain until they all inevitably fly off. I think it captures not only the nostalgia, but also what is funny and charming about the special as a whole.”
If you want to get a sense of Larry and his great career, you can watch my discussion with him and Sandy Thome, head of art development for all things relating to Charlie Brown animated cartoons. Beyond being incredibly talented, he’s quite shy, and a lovely guy.
We have other Peanuts animation art, and of course, we can always find cels based on what you’re looking for (though, not from the Christmas special, not anymore!) check out what we have right now HERE, and contact us for special requests.
We just discovered we have a few super rare and hard-to-find Peanuts limited editions created for the anniversaries of the Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown TV specials. Given how much we at ArtInsights love all things Snoopy and Charlie Brown, it’s like we got an early Valentine’s Day gift!
What a coincidence. Fans of the beloved Peanuts animated cartoons just celebrated the anniversary of the first airing of the 1975 Peanuts TV special Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown.Although there are over 40 animated TV specials created over the years through Bill Melendez’s studio, many fans actually remember a few of them really well.For me it was Snoopy Come Home, for which I had the board game, the Valentine special, and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. As an adult, I can to love this weird one that it turns out is the favorite of many of the animators who worked on multiple films for Melendez, What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown!. However, we can all agree that A Charlie Brown Christmas and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown are the most classic, right?
MELENDEZ AND MENDELSON MAKE TV MAGIC
Beyond the fact that the Peanuts Christmas special was a huge deal in that it was the first time the comic strip characters by Charles Schulz were translated to animation, it was also the first religious-based animated special to ever be played on tv, and offered a wonderful jazz score by Vince Guaraldi.This cartoon has been played during the holidays every year since it played in 1965. The music was also a huge success, selling millions of copies.At the time, A Charlie Brown Christmas was seen by 45% of those watching television in the US.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown quickly followed the Christmas special in October of 1966, although it was the third, not the second, coming after Charlie Brown’s All Stars in June of the same year. It was nominated for an Emmy. Longtime Peanuts specials producer Lee Mendelson, (who brought Schulz and Melendez together to translate the Peanuts comic strip into a cartoon, among many other important roles in the history of Peanuts specials) was outvoted in the discussion about Charlie Brown getting rocks instead of candy.He wanted him to get his fair share.Apparently the audience that year agreed with him, sending the character thousands of bags and boxes of candy to Melendez’s animation studio!
My childhood is filled with memories of watching the specials with my dad.We also played my Snoopy Come Home board game a lot together.We quoted lines from all the cartoons and the comic strip, and I’d even say seeing them every year influenced my going into a career selling art and promoting the artistry of animation.
Dog on Duty, a limited edition with three hand-painted layers, was created for the anniversary of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. It included the drawings that capture Snoopy’s struggles and bravery as a flying ace.
It was quite an experience the one time I got to eat dinner next to Bill Melendez at an event some years ago, only to discover what a wonderful sense of humor and quick wit he had.I had already heard he was famously a great boss, according to many people in the industry who had worked at a number of studios.In the interviews I conducted more recently, that compliment was repeated by everyone who had ever taken part in the creation of the Peanuts specials or any other Melendez studio project.
ANNIVERSARY PEANUTS LIMITED EDITIONS
This “Snoopy’s Audition” limited edition was the first one released for anniversary of A Charlie Brown Christmas. #SnoopyVulture
2015, the anniversaries were coming up for both the Christmas and Halloween specials.The company connected with the Melendez family and his studio, who sells all things Peanuts and Bill Melendez Studio related in terms of art, planned a big event to celebrate with Peanuts art.They spent a long time, with the help and design artistry of Peanuts specials director Larry Leichliter, creating an anniversary collection of Peanuts limited edition cels.There were only 65 and 66 in each editions.When the first piece was released, we all called those folks who had always bought art when the company released art.They were allocated, so each gallery could only get a few of these A Charlie Brown Christmas limited editions and the It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown limited editions.(I think I got as many as any gallery was allotted, with 6 of each edition).Those who bought the first one, got right of first refusal on each subsequent piece so they could match the sets.So some said yes to them all, some skipped one, and so it went.
My Peanuts collectors tend to leave their art with me for a while and come in only a few times a year.One thing led to another, we did inventory, and POOF! We actually have a few Peanuts Charlie Brown and Snoopy limited editions (and of course some with the whole Peanuts gang!)available for sale!Imagine my surprise!
This Peanuts limited edition cel, “Dog Gone Commercial” captures when Snoopy was decorating his dog house for the holidays. Classic!
Anyway, this is all to the benefit of big Peanuts fans who will fall in love with these images.The largest Christmas and Halloween limited edition cels each took weeks to complete, there was so much hand-work involved.If you think they look cool online, they are truly spectacular in person!We look forward to a fan or a few fans who grew up with the cartoons and Peanuts comic strips like I did winding up with these pieces.They can bring them home as a wonderful, nostalgic reminder of holidays gone by.Or rather, holidays to come, because they will be playing these Peanuts TV specials every year until our great-grandchildren think they came out for them!
In this blog are all the images of the pieces we have.Click HERE to see them all, or on each image for more information for those specific pieces.
The work-intensive A Charlie Brown Christmas limited edition art created for the anniversary called “50 Years of Joy and Wonder”
The anniversary It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown limited edition that we have for sale sold out immediately when it was released, with only 66 created. Linus and Snoopy steal the show again!
Remember if you love Peanuts and the Charlie Brown TV specials, there are some original production cels available from a number of cartoons you’ll remember we get directly from the Bill Melendez Studio. None from the Christmas or Halloween specials, but we’ve found a few choice ones for fans from Snoopy Come Home, several Valentine specials, and others that would excite you. Contact us!
We’ll leave you with this an interview I did with the producer Lee Mendelson, talking about the history of the Peanuts cartoons: