By: Dave Astor
Updated at 4:40 p.m. EST
“Peanuts” comics custody is the subject of a lawsuit filed in San Francisco.
The Associated Press reported that the trust controlling the late Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts” comic filed suit against “Beetle Bailey” creator Mort Walker, founder of the International Museum of Cartoon Art (IMCA). The trust seeks the return of “Peanuts” strips that Schulz lent IMCA — saying the Boca Raton, Fla.-based museum no longer needs the comics because it’s no longer in operation.
But Walker told E&P Online he hopes to reopen the museum in another locale, with a possible deal in the works to place the museum in New York City. “I was kind of shocked the suit was filed,” said Walker, noting that he had even offered to temporarily return the “Peanuts” comics — he placed the number of them at 19 — if he could get them back when IMCA reopened.
E&P Online could not immediately reach a representative of the Schulz trust for comment. But the trust reportedly wants the comics returned so that they can be displayed at the Charles M. Schulz Museum, which opened this August in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Walker said the Santa Rosa museum already has thousands of Schulz originals, and that he would hate to set a “chaos”-creating precedent of people asking for parts of the IMCA collection back. But Walker did note that he will suggest, when meeting next month with the IMCA board, the possibility of resolving the dispute by returning the “Peanuts” strips.
Schulz loaned IMCA the comics in the 1970s, according to Walker. The “Peanuts” creator, who died in 2000, also donated more than $1 million to the museum. “He was always very generous with us,” said Walker, who is still waiting to see if IMCA’s building will be sold. The latest possibility is that the city of Boca Raton would buy the building for $2.75 million and turn it into a cultural center.
The 1974-founded IMCA was open in Boca on a skeletal basis until closing during the latter part of this summer. Its collection of about 200,000 originals is now stored in Boca and Connecticut.
Both “Peanuts” and “Beetle Bailey” started in 1950. Reruns of the former comic still appear in about 2,400 newspapers, while Walker’s strip has about 1,800 clients.