Excerpt from “Den of Geek:”
On a desk in a Santa Rosa office sits a red and gold box measuring 10×8 cm. It dates from the 1940s, is one of only three such boxes in existence, and contains around a hundred of what comic book artist and creative director of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates, Paige Braddock, calls “the holy grail of pen nibs.” These are the nibs used by Charles “Sparky” Schulz to draw over 17,000 Peanuts comic strips.
When the R. Esterbrook Company stopped manufacturing Charles Schulz’s preferred 914 pen nibs, he bought up the remaining stock. Three boxes are all that remain—one on display at the Schulz Museum adjacent to his former studio, one kept in the studio safe, and the one we’re shown by Braddock, a gift from Sparky on her first day at the company.
As Braddock tells it, there’s nothing quite like them. “Other cartoonists have asked,” she tells us, “and we’ve all tried to find similar nibs but no, can’t find anything as good.” What makes them unique? “It’s a very versatile quill,” she explains, “it’s what I ink with because it gives you closest to his line.”
Getting closest to Sparky’s line isn’t only Braddock’s goal. It’s also the task the artists at Blue Sky Studios set themselves when they began work on The Peanuts Movie, a project that many of them had been unwittingly preparing for since childhood.
“I think Peanuts characters were some of the first characters I tried to draw myself, they seemed so simple!” remembers The Peanuts Movie director Steve Martino. “Paige actually gave me one of the pen nibs and I spent an entire weekend trying to draw Charlie Brown with India Ink and pen. That Charlie Brown head is one continuous pen-stroke—it is so hard to get it right!”