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Posted at 4:05 PM ET, 04/27/2010

Good briefs, Charlie Brown! PEANUTS licensing goes to underwear firm, Schulz heirs in $175M deal [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna


NOTE: This post originally published at 11:30 a.m. April 27.

CharlieBrown,jpg.jpg

Joe Boxer, meet Joe Cool.

According to a news release sent to Comic Riffs, the media company E.W. Scripps Co. has reached a deal to sell its United Media Licensing business to Iconix Brand Group for $175-million.

Or put more simply: The rights to marketing Charlie Brown and Snoopy and the rest of the "Peanuts" cast -- as well as such United characters as Dilbert -- are changing hands.

United Media Licensing's $2-billion-a-year merchandise business will go to Iconix in an all-cash deal. Iconix's fashion brands include Mossimo, Rocawear and -- yes -- Joe Boxer (Good briefs, Charlie Brown).

"The Peanuts brand and other acquired assets will be purchased through a newly formed subsidiary, which will be owned 80% by Iconix and 20% by the Schulz family," the news release says.

The "Peanuts" brand reportedly is licensed in more than 40 countries and generates retail sales of more than $2-billion annually. According to reports, New York-based Iconix says it expects the deal to generate about $75-million annually in royalty revenue.

Scripps has owned the "Peanuts" licensing rights since launching the strip in October 1950. "Peanuts" creator Charles "Sparky" Schulz died in February 2000.

"We realized they were the kind of company we could partner with," Jean Schulz, wife of the late cartoonist, tells Comic Riffs. "We saw that we could work with Iconix to create a new company. ... That means we'll have more control and we'll have a partner who's very aligned to the 'consumer' market."

Jean Schulz said that for decades, a goal of her husband's had been to gain rights of "Peanuts." At one point, that became "the biggest thing that he wanted," Schulz says. "I think he's smiling" today.

And what of other cartoonists whose licensing is affected? "Dilbert" creator Scott Adams tells Comic Riffs: "I have no idea how the sale will impact me. It's basically a Peanuts deal, and Dilbert is along for the ride. I don't know much beyond the press release."

As for the syndication side of things, the release makes clear: "Scripps still owns United Media's syndication operation and will continue to syndicate comic strips and editorial features that are developed and marketed worldwide through United Feature Syndicate and Newspaper Enterprise Association."

In other words: More of your profits will go to your creator's family, Charlie Brown.


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By Michael Cavna  | April 27, 2010; 4:05 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Charles M. Schulz, Charlie Brown, E. W. Scripps Company, Iconix Brand Group, Joe Boxer, Peanuts, United Media Licensing  
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Comments

I saw this on another news story and I thought you might mention it here. I know that Charlie Brown and the gang went commercial a long time ago, but this sale made me sad. I remember the way Peanuts made me feel when I was a kid reading the funny pages - innocent and naive of the world. It hasn't been that way for either Snoopy or me since the sixties, but I'd hate to feel about the Peanuts gang the way I do about Mickey Mouse and Disney. The Evil Empire. Not realistic, but still a gut feeling that I can't quite get rid of.

Posted by: elyrest | April 27, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

At least Peanuts isn't being sold to IMG, Nike, Disney, or Sony.

Posted by: bs2004 | April 27, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

And yet Bill Watterson continues to spurn commercialization. I admire that, but I do think a really great underwear commercial would feature Brooke Shields in a pair of undershorts, crooning "Nothing comes between me and my 'Calvins'!"

Posted by: seismic-2 | April 28, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

"I saw this on another news story and I thought you might mention it here. I know that Charlie Brown and the gang went commercial a long time ago, but this sale made me sad."

If you're a Peanuts fan it shouldn't make you sad, it should make you happy. As you said, Peanuts went commercial many years ago when Charles Schulz was alive. Snoopy's been the "spokes beagle" for Met Life since 1980. The only difference with this new deal is that the Schulz family will actually get more revenue for something that Charles Schulz created and labored over for 50 years than they earned previously. As Jean Schulz commented, Charles dream was to get the rights to Peanuts in his control. This deal gives the family a lot more control than they had before.

I'm very happy to see that the Schulz family will get part of the money from any purchase I make that features the Peanuts gang and my cash won't just be going to a media conglomorate.

Posted by: CJMARTIN04 | April 28, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

"I'm very happy to see that the Schulz family will get part of the money from any purchase I make that features the Peanuts gang and my cash won't just be going to a media conglomerate."

CJMARTIN04 - When you put it that way I'm better with it. I hadn't really thought of it from the families point of view. It was just the over-commercialization that was getting to me. If anyone should get the money it should be Charles Schul'z family.

Posted by: elyrest | April 28, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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