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Chip Kidd chronicles Charles Schulz's 'Peanuts' in Only What's Necessary'

The cover to

The cover to "Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts" by Chip Kidd. Photo Credit: Abrams

It might be 15 years since the comic strip "Peanuts" ended after an unparalleled 50-year run, but the beloved characters, created by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, are still strong as ever.

Besides a feature film due out Nov. 6, there's a new art book, "Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts," written, art directed and designed by New Yorker Chip Kidd.

The book's impressive collection of unique and rare imagery is taken from the archives of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center in Santa Rosa, California.

amNewYork spoke with Kidd about all things "Peanuts."

What was the most surprising thing you saw when you went into the archives?

There's this one penciled strip that really is technically the first appearance of Charlie Brown. It had never got beyond pencils and was never published. It looks like he's with Shermy. That was a revelation, I didn't know it existed.

This isn't your first "Peanuts" art book. How is this one unique?

I'm extremely mindful -- as a fan and as somebody in publishing -- that there are 10 zillion "Peanuts" books out there, and we wanted to do something unique and there's actually very little overlap with the other "Peanuts" book I did. There's almost none. ... There is definitely stuff in this book that most people, fans have not seen before. There were things that I hadn't seen before.

How did the cover design come about?

I had that idea way, way early on. The question in my mind is, which Charlie Brown face do you use? There's five decades of them. We chose the one that [Schulz] had on his personal stationary for many years, through the '60s. I figured, in that sense, it's preapproved by him. If he chose that for his stationary, he must have liked it.

Why has "Peanuts" remained so timeless?

Why has "Catcher in the Rye"? It's really, frankly, a work of art and literature that speaks to everybody's experience and does it in a unique way that transcends generations. Just like other great works of literature.

Is there a "Peanuts" character you relate to?

Linus, especially when he got his glasses. They're the same kind of glasses I have.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming "Peanuts" film?

Look, I want it to do well. I think they have a real challenge in that they want to introduce these characters to a new young audience with this medium. From what I've seen of it, it looks great. I've seen what everyone else has scene -- the trailers.

If you go: Chip Kidd is in conversation with "Mutts" cartoonist Patrick McDonnell about "Only What's Necessary: Charles M. Schulz and the Art of Peanuts" Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. at Strand Books, 828 Broadway, 212-473-1452, must buy book,


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