King Features Syndicate, Inc. is a print syndication company owned by Hearst Communications that distributes about 150 comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons, puzzles, and games to nearly 5,000 newspapers worldwide. King Features Syndicate is a unit of Hearst Holdings, Inc., which combines the Hearst Corporation's cable-network partnerships, television programming and distribution activities, and syndication companies. King Features' affiliate syndicates are North America Syndicate and Cowles Syndicate. Each week, Reed Brennan Media Associates, a unit of Hearst, edits and distributes more than 200 features for King Features.
|King Features Syndicate, Inc.|
|Founder||William Randolph Hearst|
|Products||Comic strips, newspaper columns, editorial cartoons|
|Subsidiaries||North America Syndicate|
William Randolph Hearst's newspapers began syndicating material in 1895 after receiving requests from other newspapers. The first official Hearst syndicate was called Newspaper Feature Service, Inc., established in 1913. In 1914, Hearst and his manager Moses Koenigsberg consolidated all of Hearst's syndication enterprises under one banner (although Newspaper Feature Service was still in operation into at least the 1930s). Koenigsberg gave it his own name (the German word König means king) when he launched King Features Syndicate on November 16, 1915.
Production escalated in 1916 with King Features buying and selling its own staff-created feature material. A trade publication — Circulation — was published by King Features between 1916 and 1933. Syndication peaked in the mid-1930s with 130 syndicates offering 1,600 features to more than 13,700 newspapers.
In 1986, King Features acquired the Register and Tribune Syndicate for $4.3 million. Later that year, Hearst bought News America Syndicate (formerly Publishers-Hall). By this point, with both King Features and News America (renamed North America Syndicate), Hearst led all syndication services with 316 features.
In 2007, King Features donated its collection of comic-strip proof sheets (two sets of over 60 years' accumulation) to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum and the Michigan State University Comic Art Collection while retaining the collection in electronic form for reference purposes.
In 1941, King Features manager Moses Koenigsberg wrote an autobiographical history of the company entitled King News. William Randolph Hearst paid close attention to the comic strips, even in the last years of his life, as is evident in these 1945–46 correspondence excerpts, originally in Editor & Publisher (December 1946), about the creation of Dick's Adventures in Dreamland — a strip that made its debut on Sunday, January 12, 1947; written by former Daily News reporter Max Trell and illustrated by Neil O'Keefe (who also drew for King Features a strip based on Edgar Wallace's Inspector Wade of Scotland Yard):
In the 1940s, Ward Greene (1893–1956) was King Features' editor, having worked his way up through the ranks. He was a reporter and war correspondent for the Atlanta Journal for four years (1913–17), moving to the New-York Tribune in 1917 and then returning to the Atlanta Journal as correspondent in France and Germany (1918–19). He joined King Features in 1920, became a writer and editor of the magazine section in 1925, advancing to executive editor and general manager.
Vice president Bradley Kelly (1894-1969) was a comics editor during the 1940s.
Sylvan Byck (1904–1982) was head editor of the syndicate's comics features for several decades, from the 1950s until his retirement in 1978. A King Features employee for more than 40 years and comics editor for 33 years, Byck was 78 when he died July 8, 1982. Comic-strip artist John Celardo (1918–2012) began as a King comics editor in 1973.
In 1973, Tom Pritchard (1928–1992) joined King Features, and became executive editor in 1990, overseeing daily editorial operations and the development of political cartoons, syndicated columns, and editorial services for King Features and North America Syndicate. Born in Bronxville, New York, Pritchard arrived at King Features after work as a reporter at The Record-Journal (Meriden, Connecticut), as feature writer with The Hartford Times, as editor-publisher of Connecticut's weekly Wethersfield Post, and as executive editor of The Manchester Journal Inquirer in Connecticut. He died of a heart attack in December 1992 at his home in Norwalk.
In 1978, cartoonist Bill Yates (1921–2001) took over as King Features' comics editor. He had previously edited Dell Publishing's cartoon magazines (1000 Jokes, Ballyhoo, For Laughing Out Loud) and Dell's paperback cartoon collections. Yates resigned from King Features at the end of 1988 to spend full-time on his cartooning, and he died March 26, 2001.
In 1988, Yates was replaced by Jay Kennedy — author of The Official Underground & Newave Comix Price Guide (Norton Boatner, 1982). Kennedy was King Features' lead editor until March 15, 2007, when he drowned in a riptide while vacationing in Costa Rica.
Brendan Burford, who attended the School of Visual Arts, was employed for a year as an editorial assistant at DC Comics before joining King Features as an editorial assistant in January 2000. Working closely with Jay Kennedy over a seven-year span, he was promoted to associate editor and then, after Kennedy's death, to the position of comics editor on April 23, 2007.
When asked to speak in public, Byck made a point of telling audiences that King Features received more than 1,000 strip proposals annually, but chose only one each year. However, in Syd Hoff's The Art of Cartooning (Stravon, 1973), Byck offered some tips regarding strip submissions, including the creation of central characters with warmth and charm and the avoidance of "themes that are too confining," as he explained:
Many King characters were adapted to animation, both theatrical and television cartoons. Strips from King Features were often reprinted by comic book publishers. In 1967, King Features made an effort to publish comic books of its own by establishing King Comics. This short-lived comic-book line showcased King's best-known characters in seven titles:
The comics imprint existed for a year-and-a-half, with titles cover-dated from August 1966 to December 1967. When it ended, the books were picked up and continued by Gold Key Comics, Harvey Comics, and Charlton Comics.
In addition to extensive merchandising and licensing of such iconic characters as Betty Boop, Felix the Cat, and Popeye, King Features has diversified to handle popular animation and TV characters (from "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" and "Howdy Doody" to "Mr. Bill" and "Mr. Magoo"), plus publicly displayed, life-sized art sculptures — "CowParade", "Guitarmania" and "The Trail of the Painted Ponies." King Features also represents David and Goliath, an apparel and accessories line popular with teenagers.
As a sales tool, the King Features design team created colorful strip sample folders resembling movie press kits. With rising paper costs and the downsizing of newspapers, the comic-strip arena became increasingly competitive, and by 2002, King salespeople were making in-person pitches to 1,550 daily newspapers across America. King was then receiving more than 6,000 strip submissions each year, yet it accepted only two or three annually. Interviewed in 2002 by Catherine Donaldson-Evans of Fox News, Kennedy commented:
Confronted by newspaper cutbacks, King Features has explored new venues, such as placing comic strips on mobile phones. In 2006, it launched DailyINK. On a web page and via email, the DailyINK service made available more than 90 vintage and current comic strips, puzzles, and editorial cartoons. The vintage strips included Bringing Up Father, Buz Sawyer, Flash Gordon, Krazy Kat, The Little King, The Phantom, and Rip Kirby. Jay Kennedy introduced the service early in 2006, commenting:
With 11,000 subscribers by June 2010, more vintage strips were added to DailyINK, including Barney Google, Beetle Bailey, Big Ben Bolt, Brick Bradford, The Heart of Juliet Jones, Jackys Diary, The Katzenjammer Kids, Little Iodine, Mandrake the Magician, Office Hours, Quincy and Radio Patrol. On November 15, 2010, a subscription rate increase to $19.99 was announced, effective December 15, 2010, with applications available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, plus a "new and improved" DailyINK in 2011. The redesign was by Blenderbox. Added features included original publication dates, a forum, and a blog, mostly promotional, but also with "Ask the Archivist" posts exploring comic-strip history. The "Last 7" feature enables the reader to see a week's worth of comics on one page.
On January 13, 2012, the DailyINK app was voted as the People's Champ in the Funny category in the 2011 Pixel Awards. Established in 2006, the Pixel Awards honor sites and apps displaying excellence in web design and development. Other nominees in the Funny category: JibJab Media Inc, Threaded, Snowball of Duty:White Opps and SoBe Staring Contest.
In 2012, Jackys Diary was dropped from DailyINK, and the Archivist explained: "Unfortunately, we no longer have the rights to publish the strip."
In November 2008, King Features introduced Comics Kingdom, a digital platform that newspapers can embed on their sites. Comics Kingdom splits advertising revenue with newspapers carrying the feature; those papers make local sales, while King handles national sales. During the 30-day period in which strips are made available on the newspaper sites, readers could post comments on local community forums.
Today, Comics Kingdom (comicskingdom.com) features comic strips and editorial cartoons which can be accessed and read online. This website also features some interactive puzzles. Comics are updated every single day, plus a one-year archive is available to be viewed for free. Older comics can be accessed by being a Comics Kingdom Royal (a paid member, subscribed to their premium subscription service). Subscribers to Comics Kingdom Royal also get to keep a scrapbook of their favorite cartoons, get daily email updates, and access a huge selection of classic vintage comics. Comics Kingdom also features over 30 of comic strips in Spanish.
King's A la Carte Online Comics offers syndication of specific strips aimed at "precisely defined audiences" of specialized websites. These are available in such categories as Animals, Environmental, Military, and Technology.
King Features Weekly Planet was created as an online newspaper of King's columns, comics, and puzzles.
Gil is a syndicated comic strip written and illustrated by Norm Feuti. It is distributed by King Features Syndicate.On 2 December 2013, Feuti announced that Gil would cease publication at the end of the year. However, on May 11, 2014, Feuti announced that Gil would return as a Sunday-only comic in the Providence Journal.Marvin (comic strip)
Marvin, later called Marvin & Family, is a daily newspaper comic strip created by cartoonist Tom Armstrong and distributed in the U.S. by Hearst's King Features Syndicate. Debuting in 1982, it revolves around the life and times of a young baby boy named Marvin, along with his parents, Jeff and Jenny Miller, and their dog Bitsy. In 1989, CBS aired a special, "Marvin, Baby of the Year."Moose
The moose (North America) or elk (Eurasia), Alces alces is a member of the New World deer subfamily and is the largest and heaviest extant species in the Deer family. Moose are distinguished by the broad, palmate (open-hand shaped) antlers of the males; other members of the deer family have antlers with a dendritic ("twig-like") configuration. Moose typically inhabit boreal forests and temperate broadleaf and mixed forests of the Northern Hemisphere in temperate to subarctic climates. Hunting and other human activities have caused a reduction in the size of the moose's range over time. Moose have been reintroduced to some of their former habitats. Currently, most moose are found in Canada, Alaska, New England (with Maine having the most of the lower 48 states), Fennoscandia, Baltic states, and Russia. Their diet consists of both terrestrial and aquatic vegetation. The most common moose predators are the gray wolf along with bears and humans. Unlike most other deer species, moose do not form herds and are solitary animals, aside from calves who remain with their mother until the cow begins estrus (typically at 18 months after birth of the calf), at which point the cow chases away young bulls. Although generally slow-moving and sedentary, moose can become aggressive and move quickly if angered or startled. Their mating season in the autumn features energetic fights between males competing for a female.Todd the Dinosaur
Todd the Dinosaur written and drawn by Patrick Roberts, is an American gag-a-day comic strip about a 7 year old Tyrannosaurus attending elementary school. Being only second graders, his classmates accept Todd as they would anyone else. The strip first appeared in 2001 in The Oklahoman and is published by King Features Syndicate. It has also appeared in Record-Journal, Herald News and San Francisco Chronicle. It participated in the second Earth Day comic event of King Features. During one day, 37 of their creators used their comics to advance an environmental theme.