2 October 1950: Peanuts comic strip appears

On this day in 1950, Peanuts featuring Charlie Brown and Snoopy debuted in nine US newspapers. The cartoon would net creator Charles Schulz a fortune.

America has always had a strong regional and local press. At the peak of the newspaper industry in the early 1950s there were nearly 1,800 separate papers. To avoid wasteful duplication, and ensure that readers got national news, publishers would buy columns, features and even comics from agencies (the first agency was founded in 1865). This meant that successful writers and artists could make a lot of money if their work was used in papers across America.

Syndication could make people rich witness the cartoonist Charles Schulz. While working for a correspondence school that taught drawing, Schulz had some minor success with a local newspaper with the cartoon series Li'l Folks.

Unhappy with the amount of money they were paying him, he tried to have the series syndicated. However, the agency United Feature Syndicate was more interested in a slightly modified version that they named Peanuts, to avoid confusion with a popular cartoon strip called Li'l Abner. Peanuts debuted on2 October 1950 in nine newspapers.

Peanuts would run nearly continuously for 49 years, with the final original strip running the day after Schulz's death in February 2000. By then it was appearing in 2,600 papers in 75 countries.

While Schulz's royalties from the first nine customers would be only $90 a week ($1,230 in today's money), by 1953 he was earning $30,000 a year ($358,000). In the last ten years of his career he was receiving $30m-$40m annually from all sources, including merchandising, books, TV specials and endorsements.

Recommended

The charts that matter: more pain for goldbugs
Economy

The charts that matter: more pain for goldbugs

Gold investors saw more disappointment this week as the yellow metal took a tumble. Here’s what’s happened to the charts that matter most to the globa…
18 Sep 2021
The new social-care levy: an unfair tax that protects the “assetocracy”
National Insurance

The new social-care levy: an unfair tax that protects the “assetocracy”

The government’s regressive social-care levy will make Britain’s tax system even more complex. Root-and-branch reform is long overdue.
18 Sep 2021
Kieran Heinemann: the history of shareholder capitalism
Investment strategy

Kieran Heinemann: the history of shareholder capitalism

Merryn talks to Kieran Heinemann, author of Playing the Market: Retail Investment and Speculation in Twentieth-Century Britain, about the history of t…
17 Sep 2021
Cryptocurrency roundup: litecoin blunder, cardano update and bitcoin mining in Laos
Bitcoin & crypto

Cryptocurrency roundup: litecoin blunder, cardano update and bitcoin mining in Laos

Saloni Sardana looks at the week’s biggest stories in the world of cryptocurrencies.
17 Sep 2021

Most Popular

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest
Small cap stocks

The times may be changing, but don’t change how you invest

We are living in strange times. But the basics of investing remain the same: buy fairly-priced stocks that can provide an income. And there are few be…
13 Sep 2021
Two shipping funds to buy for steady income
Investment trusts

Two shipping funds to buy for steady income

Returns from owning ships are volatile, but these two investment trusts are trying to make the sector less risky.
7 Sep 2021
Should investors be worried about stagflation?
US Economy

Should investors be worried about stagflation?

The latest US employment data has raised the ugly spectre of “stagflation” – weak growth and high inflation. John Stepek looks at what’s going on and …
6 Sep 2021