The Art of Negotiation: The Flinch System


“In 1955, (Laurence) Rutman (chief of United Feature Syndicate) persuaded (Charles) Schulz to illustrate Eastman Kodak’s Brownie Book of Picture Taking, letting his characters run loose from the strip for the first time. The syndicate required from Kodak an advance payment against which royalties would be applied at the rate of 5 percent of a camera’s selling price. Sparky (Schulz) happened to be in Rutman’s office in New York on the day when he used nothing more complicated than what he called “the flinch system” to establish these “licensing” fees. When John Schnapp of Eastman Kodak asked how much it would cost for Shultz to provide eight four-panel strips and twenty spot drawings, Rutman answered. “Well, perhaps one thousand dollars,” and when Schnapp didn’t demur, he then stated, “It will be an additional thousand dollars to have Mr. Schulz make the drawings for Kodak’s exclusive use.” When, again, Schnapp took this in stride, Rutman explained that domestic rights to the characters in photography manuals would cost yet more. “And,” as Rutman told it to Schulz, “I keep going up until he flinches, and that’s the figure.”


from Schulz and Peanuts by David Michealis, 2007, HarperCollins