Friday, October 19, 2007

Determined (to Protect Your) Productions

As a cartoonist and creator, protecting what I create is most important, and I've been an outspoken critic of Calvin and Hobbes' Bill Waterson for not employing the likes of Determined Productions to protect his comicstrip. He didn't want his "baby" to become a product-producing cottage industry. But, I contend, by not allowing licensing, he had no one protecting his "baby"-- making sure no one perverts or demeans these great characters, Schulz' Peanuts had Determined Productions, and was extremely successful on both income and protection of his properties. Cartoon Brew's Thread concerning Schulz, swang in this direction, and prompted me to say this:

I think the lasting image of Calvin will be him wizzing on a car brand name on vehicle back windows everywhere.
He chose NOT to merchandise so all there is is low rent bogus leadpainted Chinese made toys, poorly made ragdoll Hobbes, and ALLLLLLL those Piss Stickers! Yeah, put out a great strip and let the world cheapen it for you because you wanted it to be all about the strip itself, no toys, no anything—which adds up to alot of crappy things in your cartoon’s image. Schulz and Determined Productions were a great fit for many years— Standard poster designs, calendars, toys always looked like the Peanuts gang! All I can say is… “GOOD GRIEF!”

That prompted James Walley's response:

James Walley said: Bill, you claim that Watterson refusing to license merchandising was what brought about the “Calvin pissing on (something or other)” bumper-stickers. Possibly, but I remember, back in the late ’60s (when Peanuts was at its height of fame and Schulz-approved merchandise was being sold everywhere), Spencer’s Gifts ran a series of posters of Lucy, Patty, and Violet, all very pregnant, shouting “Damn you, Charlie Brown!” It would appear that even the most active merchandising and licensing program is no protection against someone making a buck with tasteless rip-offs.
Determined Productions made many raids on that merchandise- which said in the top panel “Good ‘Ol Charlie Brown–” with close ups of the girls faces, and in the bottom panel a wide shot w/ them very pregnant, saying “How we hate him!”- the phrase was used in the very 1st Peanuts daily strip-in a different context of course. These bootlegs came and went within weeks, were in very small supply, most Charlie Brown mavens have ever even heard about that due to the swift legal resoloution.
In stark contrast, EVERYONE is aware of the Calvin Pissing sticker, they first surfaced 11 years ago, and they are still sold every year by the MILLIONS, unchallenged by Watterson, because he has no license management, or fraud investigators. I asked 10 folks of different ages and asked if they’ve seen the bogus sticker- they all had, then, asked the same about the pregnant Peanuts Posters that you equate to this. No one had heard of nor seen them, officials yanked them off the shelves so quickly, even you didn’t remember the right captions.
Peanuts was totally protected because they had Determined Productions in the field, actively removing anything not on their master list of products and licensing, something Bill Watterson can only wish he’d done, as well.

I was lucky that Jason Geyer knew what I was talking about--- He commented soon after:

Bill, I used to work for Determined Prod. and you are right on the money. They cared very much about protecting Peanuts and making sure that Schulz was happy with the products, etc.
I have some interesting stories about how Watterson reacted when offered the same merchandising deals for C&H, but I can’t repeat them here. ;) Let’s just say he did not appreciate the attention from licensors.

I don't want to detract from the Schulz' kids commentary on the Michaelis book, so I'm bringing the Determined Productions discussion over here--- I'm anxious to get more views on this-- So please feel free to add your thoughts!

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