Why re-run Peanuts?
Question: Why do you continue running a comic strip by a dead man? Been there, done that. I think even Charles Schulze himself would say, "Hey, give my space to a young struggling cartoonist who is still alive and well and needs the cash." Who needs re-runs in the newspaper? -- Teresa Keene, Spokane
Answer: There is some controversy in newspaper/syndicate/cartoonist circles over the continuation of strips after the originating artist/authors have retired or died. We run several strips now penned by replacement cartoonists or cartoonist teams, "Dennis the Menace,'' may be the best known example, "Blondie," too. Syndicates hire replacements to continue strips because the characters have become part of the fabric of readers' lives -- readers don't want them to die with their authors -- and because they don't want to lose cash cows established strips represent. (Keep in mind, it's not just the strips, but all of that licensing income that can be at stake).
In the case of "Peanuts," Charles Schulz refused to turn his strip over to a replacement on his retirement or death. However, faced with overwhelming public demand, the estate and the syndicate agreed to re-run the "Peanuts' collection for some period of time, perhaps indefinitely. The re-runs work on many levels. He strip was not topical so has a timeless quality. And the work was so good, it remains as funny and fresh as ever and far funnier and fresher than many of the alternatives available.
I'm not opposed to giving new, struggling cartoonists a try...but there aren't many quality options out there and much of the new material we see move across our desks is pretty dreadful.
Meanwhile, "Peanuts" retains much of its audience and so has a place on our pages. -- Steve Smith, editor