While you were getting all misty eyed over how rationally Jack Daniels handled a little trademark infringement, I was out discovering that the liquor company was far from the first to take the suggestion of copyright infringement with, if not a smile, at least a knowing nod, pat on the head and a gentle “move along.”
I discovered at a flea market proof that even Peanuts creator Charles Schulz knew how to tell an enterprising author that she was in possession of a very bad idea without breaking her spirit.
Peanuts is arguably one of the most popular comic strips of all time. The adventure-less tales of eternal children with sometimes adult-level anxiety resonated with generations of fans. So much so that the strip continues to run in thousands of newspapers around the U.S. and enjoys a healthy digital presence more than a decade after Schultz's death.
Though many popular strips have seen a succession of artists inherit the drawing duties, no one but Schultz ever drew the Peanuts strip. It was his, and his alone. Not that some didn’t try.
I grew up drawing Peanuts characters. I’m sure many would-be cartoonists did, but few likely took it as far as Howard Beach resident Chaye Arotsky.
In 1968, at the very height of Peanuts popularity, Arotsky apparently sent Schultz a pitch about a book she'd written detailing exactly how to draw the Peanuts characters.
Schultz, who was known to be a sometimes dramatic, even prickly sort, took the request in stride. He sent Arotsky this letter (photographed above) on United Feature Syndicate letter head, which happened to feature a large printed drawing of Charlie Brown and Snoopy.
In the letter, Schultz gently explains, without condescension, the impossibility of Arotsky’s request:
I suppose you may send me your book of instructions of how to draw Charlie Brown Cartoons, but I really do not see the purpose of it. If this is a book that you have prepared for publication, you must realize that we could never consider such a project.
Charles M. Schultz
Is the letter authentic? I'd say so. This signature pretty closely matches Schulz's known style and many others found online and Schulz, who was known as "Sparky" to his friends, often used United Features Syndicate stationary.
In case you’re wondering, the guy selling the framed letter and envelop wanted $350.
As for Arotsky, she is, at least according to the Internet, alive, in her mid-80’s and living somewhere in New York. I’ve reached out to relatives who might be able to put me in touch with Arotsky for comment.
So how do you think Schultz’s non-litigious largess compares to Jack Daniels’ southern comfort?
This story originally published on Mashable here.