By Kevin Wollenweber
I was saddened to hear of the death, on Tuesday, of Bill Melendez. He is most remembered for his excellent production work on the adaption of the Peanuts (Charlie Brown) comic strip to the medium of the animated cartoon and with good reason. Those earliest Peanuts specials were exactly what I expected an animated cartoon of this particular newspaper strip to be! It was so perfectly suited to the “limited” or stylized animation of the age of TV, where animation production had to be done in a timely fashion yet still be appealing to an audience on the small screen. So Melendez did indeed deliver a very likable and inspired version of the popular comic strip and actually won an Emmy his first time out with the first special, “A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS”, a Holiday tale in which Charlie Brown believes he’s lost the spirit of Christmas due to its horrific commercialization, an emotion that I’m sure we, religious or not, have all had around the holiday season.
Each special neatly adapted actual strips, complete with original images and poses from the respective four panels that appeared in newspapers and, later, in paperback books that reprinted the weekday and Sunday strips, many of which I was, at that time, long before the specials, avidly collecting!