Franklin Gets His Moment In The Spotlight In ‘Overdue’ New ‘Peanuts’ Special

Franklin Armstrong, Snoopy and Woodstock in “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin,” premiering February 16, 2024 on Apple TV+. (Apple TV+)

By Megan Thomas, CNN

(CNN) — A new animated special puts a spotlight on Franklin Armstrong, the first Black character in the Peanuts comic strip, more than 50 years after he made his debut.

The Apple TV+ special “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” explores the character’s origin as a young boy from a military family who likes baseball, space and listening to Stevie Wonder, we come to learn.

“A Franklin special is really overdue,” Craig Schulz, who co-wrote the special and is the son of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz, told NPR. “We get to go back and really find out where Franklin came from and really tell the whole story of this kid.”

Franklin first appeared in a Peanuts comic in the summer of 1968, after Los Angeles school teacher Harriet Glickman wrote to Charles Schulz and urged him to integrate his comics. According to correspondence shared by the Schulz museum, Glickman believed Peanuts comics could help shape attitudes about race in America after the death of Martin Luther King Jr.

In Franklin’s comic debut, he and Charlie Brown were shown playing on the beach together during a time when many beaches were still segregated. The new special nods to that scene and others in Franklin’s history.

Charlie Brown and Franklin Armstrong in “Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin.” (Apple TV+)

“Franklin is a culturally significant character, and he means a lot of things to different people,” the special’s director Raymond Persi told Animation Magazine. “It was important to include ideas that came up in discussions with my crew in a way that felt organic and served the story.”

Franklin at first struggles to make friends with the Peanuts kids as the new kid in town, but over the course of the special he connects with Charlie Brown through a soap box derby.

“We don’t always know what other people are going through, but what we do know is everyone is trying to connect and find friendship in this world,” Persi said.

“Snoopy Presents: Welcome Home, Franklin” is currently streaming on Apple TV+.

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