'Peanuts' comics strip will leave syndicate in February for Universal Uclick

By Michael Cavna
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some things with "Peanuts," you could always count on. Charlie Brown would never actually kick the football. Linus would never see the Great Pumpkin. And one of the most successful strips in comics history would be distributed by the company that first syndicated it to a pre-Elvis America.

The characters' fates will never change in the fixed universe of "Peanuts Classics," but come February, a new syndicate will offer those reruns, which are carried by more than 2,200 newspapers worldwide. After 60 years, the "Peanuts" franchise is moving from United Press Syndicate to Universal Uclick.

"We feel Universal is a natural partnership for us," says Jean Schulz, wife of late "Peanuts" creator Charles M. "Sparky" Schulz and curator of the strip's legacy. "They already handle our [cartoon] 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," the New York-based United Feature Syndicate said in a news release. "We value the incredible work ethic that [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," said Lee Salem, president of the Kansas City-based Universal Uclick. "We believe the future of syndication -- in print, online and in mobile -- is especially promising for this timeless classic."

Jean Schulz said "Peanuts" is "playing catch-up" in terms of maximizing various media platforms for comics. The plan is for "Peanuts" to be available on mobile devices through the interface of GoComics, which is Universal Uclick's comics Web portal.

United Feature Syndicate -- which launched "Peanuts" six decades ago in just seven U.S. newspapers -- said it will no longer distribute "Peanuts" as of Feb. 26, 2011.

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