Update: Newsarama reached out to Fantagraphics Books regarding how the deal might impact their award-winning run of The Complete Peanuts.
Jacquelen Cohen, Director of Publicity and Promotions, replied, "We don't anticipate any changes with the release of The Complete Peanuts series. We've always had a great relationship with the Schultz Family and United Media and expect to continue successfully working with both."
The Fantagraphics collections have won three Eisner Awards and multiple Harvey Awards, including nods for Best Archival/Collection Project and Best Publication Design.Original Story: Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the rest of the cast of Peanuts are finally leaving the nest, as Iconix Brand Group Inc. has partnered up with the family of late creator Charles Schulz to buy the comic property from United Feature Syndicate and E.W. Scripps for $175 million.
"We are grateful and proud of the active partnership we have had with United Media for the past 60 years. From the beginning, my husband worked directly with the people using his art to preserve the authenticity of his characters. Since his death, we have continued to do the same," said Charles' wife, Jean Schulz in a statement. "It is a joy to partner with a company whose founder is at the helm. [Iconix CEO Neil Cole] and his team have great respect for who the Peanuts characters are and they honor all we have accomplished, and the spirit with which we do business."
Schultz passed away in February 2000. Peanuts, which began its run in 1950 and continued through early 2000, has been licensed in more than 40 countries worldwide, even as the original comic strips continue to run in syndication in more than 2,000 newspapers. They have established deals with groups such as MetLife, Hallmark, Universal Studios and Warner Bros., with products ranging from clothing to cards to movies to television commercials.
Iconix, which is best known for its Joe Boxer line, also netted the entirety of Scripps' United Media Licensing division, which will allow it the licensing and character representation rights of Dilbert and Fancy Nancy. Iconix estimated that the Peanuts brand generates annual sales of more than $2 billion, and they expect that Peanuts will generate $75 million in annual royalty revenue a year.
"The Schulz family is extremely excited by the opportunity to create this partnership with Neil Cole and Iconix," said Charles' son, Craig Schulz. "Peanuts now has the best of both worlds, family ownership and the vision and resources of Iconix to perpetuate what my father created throughout the next century with all the goodwill his lovable characters bring."
The United Feature Syndicate was partnered with creator Charles Schulz since the beginning of the strip, with Schulz having worked with the group on his previous strip, Li'l Folks. According to a press release issued by Iconix, the Schulz family will be paying 20 percent of the share of the characters, while Iconix will be responsible for the remaining 80 percent.
"We are excited to embark on this transformative deal for our Company," Neil Cole, Chairman and CEO of Iconix Brand Group, Inc., said in a press statement. "The Peanuts brand is iconic, with some of the most beloved and well known characters in history."