Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Peanuts cartoons, via iTunes store

The Schulz family has teamed up with Warner Bros. to create new Flash-animated shorts of classic Peanuts comic strips. You can download the first one for free from the iTunes store for a limited time.

I just watched it, and I have to say: It looks pretty darn good. I kept wanting to find fault with the animation, the voices, the music ... but it's all really well done. The actors for the kids' voices are eerie in their resemblance to (or at least evocation of) the voices of the 1960s (and later) actors.

Watching it all the way to the end, however, I was struck by the fact that, no matter how you slice it, the pacing and dramatic arc for daily comic strips just doesn't translate as well as you'd hope to a video format. You're expecting a little more out of the story, but you know what? This is just a gag that was supposed to be read in a few seconds over breakfast.

I'm not sure what the solution to that dilemma is—maybe simply release the videos as a daily feed, one strip's worth at a time? Obviously, the cost of producing video is so much higher than producing print that, to even bother with it, the studio is going to want to make the length sufficient to justify the effort. I mean, a team of people producing a single, 30-second animated strip a day? It sounds ridiculous. But that feels like the proper delivery method—rather than artificially packaging them into a piece that's "long enough" to justify the expense and that, by its nature, falsely suggests the narrative structure of a longer piece, rather than a string of gags.

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