From a very young age I have been enchanted with an artist’s ability to evoke strong emotions in a viewer with the slightest extra line or shade of color. I’m all the more fascinated with these talents since it seems to be impossible for me to draw a straight line or believable circle without the aid of a computer. I very much appreciate the fact that, although music is my field, I make my living working on an animated television show.
I have a deep interest in art. Not so much painting or sculpture or the works of the great masters of the Renaissance, but the art of animators like John Hubley, Tex Avery, William Hanna & Joseph Barbera from their days at M-G-M, and the “Nine Old Men” at The Walt Disney Studios. Also newspaper cartoonists like Berkeley Breathed, Bill Watterson, and, my all-time fave, Charles M. Schulz.
I believe what makes PEANUTS so endearing to its millions of fans, even a dozen years after Schulz’s passing, is the combination of Schulz’s clever and unique drawing style with his witty and insightful writing. The best cartoonists are an incredible blend of artist and storyteller.
Alf Clausen paid a visit to the Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa, CA this past summer. He knew of my adoration for Schulz and all things PEANUTS, so he told me about his visit and of one exhibit in particular that caught his attention. It seems that Schulz used to do rough drawings and wrote out story ideas on yellow legal pads. Whichever pages didn’t interest him, he wadded up and tossed into a waste basket. Then, at the end of the day and unbeknownst to him, his secretary would fish the pages out of the waste basket, iron them flat, then stash them in a secret file folder for safekeeping. The secret folder was donated to the museum and visitors can now see Schulz’s rough drafts alongside his finished work. I look forward to visiting the museum myself someday and am anxious to see those pages and learn more about his process.
In what may be the world’s greatest non-sequitur, let me try to connect the above story with my work on THE SIMPSONS. It seems my wife has also been keeping a secret file folder. It doesn’t contain any work of my own, but it tells a kind of story celebrating some highlights of my last 23 years.
As I have mentioned numerous times on this blog, working on THE SIMPSONS hasn’t just afforded me the opportunity to support my family, it’s also been an enormous amount of fun. Every year since the beginning, Gracie Films and FOX have thrown a party to celebrate either the beginning of a new season or major episode milestone. My wife has kept nearly all the party invitations that were sent to me. Some of the artwork is one-of-a-kind, having never been used on the show or in merchandising. These are truly limited editions. I’d like to share some of them with you here.
As I write this, we are only 46 days away from airing episode 500. That will leave at least 60 more episodes to produce after that. I can’t think of any job in the world I’d rather have.
Thanks for spending some of your time here and Happy 2012 to everyone.