Robot 6

You’ve gone digital, Charlie Brown!

In a press release that reads like a parody of corporate press releases, Peanuts Worldwide announced a series of digital initiatives that they hope will develop Peanuts into “a leading global entertainment and multi-media property.” Because it wasn’t before, apparently—just a meaningless jumble of books, television shows, movies, Broadway musical, syndicated newspaper strip, lunchboxes, etc. Verbiage aside, their new initiatives sound pretty cool.

First, there’s a new the Peanuts website, which is very nicely designed and gives you a daily Peanuts strip (the same one that’s in the paper, I’m guessing, but my paper doesn’t get Peanuts) as well as links to Peanuts merchandise, character profiles and video clips, and a page for the Charles M. Schultz museum. It’s a good start, and I hope they continue to add content.

The second part of the push is digital comics and e-books. The first product to launch was Happiness Is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, an original graphic novel published by kaboom!, the kids’ imprint of BOOM! Studios, which is available both in print and digitally via comiXology and a special Peanuts app (not in the iTunes store yet, as far as I could see). There are more original graphic novels on the way.

But wait! There’s more! iVerse is putting together a collection of Peanuts strips that will be available via the iTunes store, while Happiness is a Warm Blanket and the classic Happiness Is a Warm Puppy will soon be available for the Nook and Nook apps. Capcom subsidiary Beeline is developing a freemium game for smartphones and tablets, due out this fall. The Peanuts folks are spreading their product out among a number of different digital providers, rather than sticking with just one for all their needs, which is an interesting strategy (probably hedging their bets).

Also, Snoopy has his own Facebook and Twitter. That’s standard, of course, but the rise of Snoopy is one of the things I liked the least about Peanuts. Snoopy is cute and bland. Charlie Brown is neurotic and interesting. I’d follow his Twitter: “Sitting by myself in the cafeteria again.” “Off to play some football with Lucy. Maybe she’ll let me kick it this time!” “Ow! My stomach hurts!” The older Peanuts had some bite to it, and it would be nice to see the rights holders of this leading global multimedia property find a little room for that. Happiness is seeing your own insecurities and fears of failure reflected in a cartoon character, Charlie Brown!

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There are two Peanuts strips which papers can purchase: “silver age peanuts” which features the high point of the strip, from the 60s and 70s, or “modern age peanuts” which is the kindler, gentler strips from the 80s and 90s. (Or at least that’s how they started after Schulz’s passing. Since the Iconix transaction, that might no longer be true.

What of the Dell Comics stories? Will Kaboom! reprint those? It’s not Schulz’ artwork, but then neither is HiaWBCB…

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