‘We can always use innocence’ – Craig Schulz on Peanuts’ legacy and Marcie’s new special

With the release of Snoopy Presents: One-of-a-Kind Marcie, executive producer Craig Schulz and director Raymond S Persi chat to Liam Maguren about the new special, the enduring Peanuts legacy, and the fandom behind loveable introvert Marcie.


Ever since the move to Apple TV+, the minds behind Peanuts have released a steady stream of specials including For Auld Lang Syne, Lucy’s School, It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown, and To Mom (and Dad), With Love as well as The Snoopy Show which is up to its third season. A dedicated crew of people helps carry the legacy of Charles M. Schulz’s creation with the main writing team—son Craig Schulz, grandson Bryan Schulz, and Cornelius Uliano—overseeing these specials.

Directed by Raymond S Persi, who’s helmed half of the previous specials, new entry One-of-a-Kind Marcie manages to be both faithful to the Peanuts legacy and a standout in its own right.

In the special, the ever-faithful Marcie helps her best bud Peppermint Patty prepare for an upcoming golf tournament. As an avid problem-solver who prefers to be out of the limelight, the role of a caddy suits Marcie well. However, when the entire school’s attention suddenly shifts to Marcie, her ability to share her ideas becomes a challenge.

“This special was kind of based on the movie Hidden Figures about the people behind the scenes of the Apollo program,” Craig Schulz explains. “We thought Marcie was a perfect character to represent those types of behind-the-scenes people.”

As with the previous specials, One-of-a-Kind Marcie takes the focus off Charlie Brown to delve deeper into another character in the Peanuts world. It’s a move Schulz and his team have quietly worked towards over the past couple of years.

“We crafted the stories, pitched them to Apple, and saw which ones they liked the best. They like to theme a lot of them around the holidays, but we weren’t going to do another one on Christmas or another Halloween special. So we started fixating on characters because I personally felt that people wanted to know more about their personal favourites. We have numerous stories in the works based on different characters.”

Marcie’s a unique one because, unlike Patty or Lucy or even Chuck, she’d rather avoid the spotlight. I asked Persi how difficult it was to give attention to a character who hates attention. “It was a challenge,” he admitted. “But what’s great is, it’s a visual medium, so we worked with our production designer Pascal Campion to figure that out.

“One of the things that people might notice when they watch this special is how we use light and shadow. Marcy is someone who is happy to sit apart from everyone else and observe. So we show her oftentimes sitting in the shadow while everyone else is out doing things. And when we wanted to show her as uncomfortable, we thrust her out into the light.

“We tried to show a lot of shots of nature and, even with our sound design, show the things that you notice when you stop to look—the pond rippling, the leaves floating… We used some other sounds and visuals to show her rich imagination, and what she was feeling so the audience could feel it.”

Ever since the original series, music—especially jazz—has played a vital role in the screen world of Peanuts. Persi taps into this for Marcie’s story: “Working with our composer Jeff Morrow, we wanted to use an instrument to give her voice and decided to focus on the flute to show you where she was emotionally.”

There are moments in the special depicting Marcie’s social angst in visually and audibly striking ways—as if the world’s reacting to Marcie’s feelings with Morrow’s music. “He and his team of musicians are amazing,” Persi adds. “We talked about what we wanted, how we wanted her to feel, and he has such a rich knowledge of jazz… There were times when they were literally improvising to capture the feel of it. Sometimes we even pull back the sound effects and let the music tell you what to feel it.”

It’s going to be a very relatable experience for a lot of viewers—children and adults alike. For certain Peanuts fans, it’s destined to be a favourite. “Fans love Marcie,” Schulz mentions. “I think people like that she’s so different from the other characters. She came along later, probably four or five years after Peppermint Patty, and I think the way they interact has been really interesting to the fan base. I think it was really an appropriate time to do a Marcie special.”

Persi continues: “I think a lot of cartoonists and animators are happy to sit in the shadows and let our work speak for itself. So there were a lot of people on the team that really connected with her.”

This longstanding love for Peanuts and its characters owes plenty to the series’ ability to stay true to Charles M Schulz’s original vision. “One of our producers always mentions that it really helps to have myself and my son on board,” Craig Schulz states, “because we really have the DNA of my father in there. When you grow up with somebody and watch him work for 50 years, I kind of know what his standards would have been. My personal objective is to never stray from that.

“We lock all this animation into the time period between the late 1960s and the 1980s. They’re sort of locked in time, which becomes really fun because I think people—especially new generations—enjoy seeing them pick up a telephone, and there’s a wire on the end with a bunch of buttons to push to make the thing work. There are no iPads. We will not let somebody else come in and try to turn Peanuts into some sort of ultra-modern show. We have too many gatekeepers to keep that from happening.”

“What I love too, Craig, is that you always have us go back to the strips,” Persi adds. “There is 50 years’ worth of information to look at and learn from. We’re looking to them as inspiration.”

This inspiration extends to Peanuts’ everlasting depiction of youth. Persi continues: “I asked everybody to tap into their childhood for these specials. What do you remember about being a kid? Childhood is about having the time to think and really look at the world—staring out of the school bus, watching the streets, seeing clouds go by—stuff you forget to do as an adult. Just trying to use that as an extra layer to what’s there in these great stories to keep that sense of childhood.”

Schulz concludes: “Each of the characters is really a piece of us. We each relate to a character in different ways: some people feel they’re more like Charlie Brown, some people feel more philosophical like Linus, some people hope that they’re like Snoopy, you know?

“I think that’s really what makes it go on and on and on. It’s a universal message. We all relate to it. It’s good clean fun. My dad always said there’s never a shortage of innocence. We can always use innocence and that’s what Peanuts is all about.”

Snoopy Presents: One-of-a-Kind Marcie is available to stream on Apple TV+ from Friday, 18 August.