Found this one through the reliably bookmarkable Cartoon Brew. It’s a fascinating and insightful study of the color choices used in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Justin Hilden.
Bill Melendez’s 1966 television animated special It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown may not seem the obvious choice for a study in color theory. The Peanuts shorts from that era are usually considered beloved yet simple children’s fare. In animation circles these specials are often footnoted as being produced quickly and on the cheap. While it is certainly true that The Great Pumpkin is not high art, it has endeared itself into the collective holiday psyche of Americans since the late 1960s. Such an emotional attachment stems from the familiarity of the characters, the breezy quality of the music, the innocence of the voice acting, and also – I believe – the use and direction of color.
Mr. Hilden has graciously accompanied his article with illustrative screen captures and comments, e.g.:
The kids are surrounded and buried in these deep, dark tones with two exceptions. The kids who go trick-or-treating are anchored onto a baby blue sidewalk in the same value as the boring house interiors, in contrast to Linus and Sally who remain half covered by the Halloween intensity. This makes trick-or-treating feel less exciting than waiting in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin.
I love this stuff. The early Peanuts specials are more sophisticated and crafted than they may first appear. No wonder these things are classics. For another fascinating over-analyzation in the same vein, see “The Art of Bill Melendez.”
Color Design in It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
> Catena Ex Situ