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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 09/ 9/2010

Good grief: 'PEANUTS' will leave syndicate in February for Universal [UPDATED]

By Michael Cavna


CharlieBrown,jpg.jpg

It's official: Come next February, United Feature Syndicate will no longer distribute "Peanuts." After 60 years, Charlie Brown is moving to the syndicate Universal Uclick.

"We feel Universal is a natural partnership for us," Jean Schulz, wife of late "Peanuts" creator Charles M. "Sparky" Schulz, told Comic Riffs on Thursday. "They already handle our books, they have a strong presence in the marketplace and they have a great reputation."

"We have enjoyed our long association with 'Peanuts' since the comic strip started on October 2, 1950, and we wish the Schulz family all the best for the future," United Feature Syndicate said in a news release. "We value the incredible work ethic that Charles M. Schulz demonstrated creating Peanuts every day until he retired over 10 years ago."

Schulz died Feb. 12, 2000 -- the same weekend that his final original "Peanuts" strip appeared.

"We're honored to be able to represent 'Peanuts' and its tradition of brilliance," Universal Uclick President Lee Salem told Comic Riffs. "We believe the future of syndication -- in print, online and in mobile -- is especially promising for this timeless classic."

As Comic Riffs reported in April, United's parent, E.W. Scripps Co. had reached a deal to sell its United Media Licensing business -- including "Peanuts" -- to Iconix Brand Group for $175-million. This past summer, Scripps sold the Peanuts property to Peanuts Worldwide LLC, which is the joint venture of Iconix and Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates.

"We at United Feature Syndicate have been involved in negotiations with Peanuts Worldwide for the right to continue to syndicate and distribute the Peanuts comic strip to newspapers," the syndicate said in its announcement. "Unfortunately, we were not able to come to mutually agreeable terms, and as a result, United Feature Syndicate will no longer distribute the 'Peanuts' comic strip to newspapers, effective February 26, 2011."

United launched "Peanuts" on Oct. 2, 1950, in just seven U.S. newspapers. "Peanuts" is now syndicated to more than 2,200 newspapers in 75 countries.

Earlier this year, Jean Schulz told Comic Riffs 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," she said.

Now, she told 'Riffs, "Peanuts" is "playing catch-up" in terms of different media platforms within the marketplace. The plan is for the comic-strip franchise to be available on mobile devices -- including the iPod and iPad -- through the mobile interface of GoComics, which is Universal Uclick's comics web portal.


THE RELATED READ

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

*AACK!* Cathy Guisewite will retire her Universal comic strip 'CATHY' in October


By Michael Cavna  | September 9, 2010; 1:25 PM ET
Categories:  The Comic Strip  | Tags:  Charles M. Schulz, Jean Schulz, Lee Salem, Peanuts, United Feature Syndicate, Universal UClick  
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Comments

So, who IS going to distribute Peanuts?

Posted by: MikeCope | September 9, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Is Family Circus next? Please?!?!?!?!?!

Posted by: the_local | September 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

The bigger question is, "Is Peanuts relevant anymore?" It hasn't been an entertaining comic strip since the 70's-80's. Will it make a comeback? Who knows. I know I read them now and they're just not entertaining anymore.

Posted by: tbantug | September 9, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

MikeCope: According to the article, Universal Press Syndicate. I felt a momentary glimmer of hope that Peanuts would no longer be taking up space on the page with unfunny 80s-era comics, but it is not to be.

Posted by: MaxineofArc | September 9, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Family Circus and Cathy cannot stop soon enough but Peanuts is a different matter. Charles Schulz was the greatest cartoonist this country ever produced, an unmatched wit, philosopher, and artist. Peanuts on a bad day is still better than ninety percent of strips in syndication these days.

Posted by: Couvade | September 9, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Peanuts is one of the better comic strips of all time, and I still enjoy it on occasion. Now, can we PLEASE get rid of "Barney and Clyde?" Okay, Weingarten's won Pulitzers and the WaPo wants to make him happy, but his little guilt trip to his kid has gone way beyond far enough.

Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | September 9, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

When "Peanuts" changes distributors, can WaPo take that opportunity just to drop it entirely instead of striking a deal with the new company to keep carrying it? People who are interested in these re-runs have plenty of books of reprints available to them (so these classics can still be discovered by the next generation of comics fans), but there are fewer and fewer spaces available on the shrinking comics pages in the diminishing number of daily newspapers for strips that are now trying to get established and become the **next** "Peanuts". Retire the repeats and give some new talents the break they deserve.

Posted by: seismic-2 | September 9, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm trying to remember what happened when "Mother Goose and Grimm" switched syndicates. I remember that the paper I was at got a kind of deceptive letter from the old syndicate that suggested Peters was retiring the strip and offering us a replacement. I believe we had to take a positive move to get the comic from the new syndicate -- it didn't just change return addresses. If I'm remembering correctly, and I'm about 105% sure I am, this means editors will have to consciously decide to continue carrying reruns. It would be a good time for readers, wherever they are, to tell their local papers that the word "news" in "newspaper" is supposed to have some meaning. (My guess? Very few will dare drop it. But this is at least a moment of opportunity for those who believe old strips belong in books, not newspapers.)

Posted by: MikePeterson1 | September 9, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Wait a minute, how long as CS been dead now? It is more than past the time the Post, and every other newspaper in the world should drop Peanuts.

I wonder how many new and interesting comic strips I am missing because of zombie strips continuing. It's not like anyone is making new Peanuts strips, they are just rerunning the old strips again and again and again. Stop already

Posted by: fibrowitch | September 9, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of losses . . . .
Who and Why dumped the GREAT strip, "Cul-d-Sac"?

Posted by: lufrank1 | September 9, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious as to what will be the fate of the Fantagraphics reprints, as well as the free Peanuts strip archive at Comics.com?

Posted by: The7Sticks | September 10, 2010 1:41 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everything seismic-2 and fibrowich said. Peanuts was never great. It was sappy cloying consisting of 20 or 30 basic gag situations which repeated endlessly, as if Schulz was getting his ideas by consulting a Rolodex. Truly great comic strips of the past (and present) are Alley Oop, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Thimble Theatre (featuring Popeye), Captain Easy & Wash Tubbs, Doonesbury, Piranha Club and Liberty Meadows. Pearls Before Swine is an excellent newcomer. Garfield was funny before it ran out of ideas, Peanuts was never really all that funny.

Posted by: julianoone | September 10, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

I agree with everything seismic-2 and fibrowich said. Peanuts was never great. It was sappy cloying consisting of 20 or 30 basic gag situations which repeated endlessly, as if Schulz was getting his ideas by consulting a Rolodex. Truly great comic strips of the past (and present) are Alley Oop, Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Thimble Theatre (featuring Popeye), Captain Easy & Wash Tubbs, Doonesbury, Piranha Club and Liberty Meadows. Pearls Before Swine is an excellent newcomer. Garfield was funny before it ran out of ideas, Peanuts was never really all that funny.

Posted by: julianoone | September 10, 2010 3:29 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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