King Feature launches new comic

Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee
King features is launching a new comic strip on November 12 called The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee by John Hambrock. The feature centers around a 10-year old genius named Edison, his family (mom and dad, grandfather) and a talking rat. The strip is described as “An intelligent left-leaning comic strip that masterfully mixes social commentary and humor.”

Here is the John’s bio:

John Hambrock was born and grew up in Ft. Wayne, Ind. As a boy, he displayed a unique talent for art, receiving numerous awards for his artistic achievements. He continued his education at Indiana University,and later,at Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota,Fla., graduating with a degree in graphic design.

In 1985, within months of completing college, Hambrock was recruited by James Courtenay James, Inc., a small design agency in Chattanooga,Tenn. He loved the South, but he longed for the big city. He moved to Chicago in 1986 and landed a position with the HirschDesign Group, awell-established Loop advertising and design agency. That same year, he married his wife, Anne,who he met in high school.Years later,Anne would become a driving force in helping him achieve success in his newly emerging cartooning career.After nearly 10 years as an art director with Hirsch, he decided the time was right to start his own agency, In-House Communications. Specializing in industrial advertising, packaging and print design, his client list has grown to include major industrial and retail manufacturers, as well as one of the countryâ??sleading law firms.

39 thoughts on “King Feature launches new comic

  1. Cancellation? Of what? This feature? It hasn’t even launched yet! Give it a chance.

    Talk about judging books by their cover.

  2. Interesting to see the influence of past artists in new comics. At least from this one spot illustration, it looks as if Hambrock favors Watterson’s style, without the wholesale copycatting of “Frazz” (I like “Frazz”, but to be honest, the art is way too close to Watterson’s style not to go unnoticed).

    I look forward to seeing more samples.

  3. King Features has mailed me the sales kit, but I’ve not received it yet. As soon I get it, I’ll post my review on the artwork and writing here in the comments.

  4. A ten year old and a rat spouting social-political commentary makes me think this is a response to Carmen and Winslow of Prickly City.
    Anyhow…Is this a reworking of Hambrock’s “The Third Degree” of which I know nothing except that it was signed for national syndication about a year ago?

  5. Sounds interesting, until you get to the social commentary part. I’ve grown tired of comic strips that editorialize from ANY direction. Hambrock should reconsider and allow the comic to stand on characterization and humor. On such a basis, Edison Lee could be a licensing success with young would-be geeks as a target market.

  6. Sounds neat.

    Fortunately, when King Features starts a new comic, they’ll run the first three months un-interupted on their website, so I can see them there.

  7. Most are left leaning since the many of the current cartoonist have an editorial cartooning background. i.e. Wiley Miller.

  8. Rob – not all editorial cartoonists are left-leaning, not by a long shot. Nor do all editorial cartoonists who cross over to comic do political strips (i.e. Steve Breen’s Grand Avenue, Jim Borgman’s Zits, Doug Marlette’s Kudzu). Nor do I think all new comics are left-leaning as JR states. I think King Features went with this strip simply based on the quality of writing and art.

  9. Wow. A kid who’s a brilliant inventor. What an original concept, *koff* Jimmy Neutron *koff* Dexter’s lab *koff*
    Cynicism aside (and I have nothing else to go on, as there are no sample strips) what’s wrong with just producing a darn good kid strip?
    If the humour is great, there doesn’t have to be any attendant “originality”.
    Franklin Fibbs is a case in point. They tried to sell it on the fact it was about a guy with an amazing imagination, then found that the concept couldn’t sustain itself, so they changed it to Calvin and Hobbes lite.
    For goodness sake, let talented writers be free to write what grooves them.
    Even though the strip was about a bunch of smartass kids, we were buying Schulz, not Peanuts.
    We were buying Watterson, not Calvin, not Hobbes.

    The premise might be Child Genius, but if the writing stinks, the premise won’t save it. The premise is rarely the new idea, nor the magic ingredient, the talent behind it is.

    Too many old tired and unaccountable folks running these old tired syndicates. That’s where we need the new blood.

  10. Agree, but there are thousands of newspaper editors and only three big syndicate execs.
    Which other industry has such a bottle neck?

    In this age of same old same old, where every newspaper looks like every other, the first one to go back to the old system of paying a cartoonist for exclusive (or near as dammit) content will be rewarded.

    Imagine if, in the eighties, the LA Times was the only place you could see Calvin and Hobbes in print?

    C&H book sales weren’t contingent on how many papers the trip was in – I bought them without ever having seen the strip in newspapers.

    If Watterson had that deal, a great yearly wage, 100% of publishing, and only one editor to answer to, we’d probably still have C&H today.

    Let the syndicates carry the third rate crap if they want, it’s time for the best strips to cut one on one deals with newspapers.

  11. Where did you see the strip if not in the paper? Someone else’s book? The Web wasn’t around yet.

    In the age of consolidation; what industry isn’t bottlenecked by limited ownership of the distribution outlets? And in theory, nothing’s preventing cartoonists from making one-on-one deals with newspapers. And forget the argument that newspapers aren’t even necessary for a starting cartoonist these days (with the Web) and that it’s easier than ever to get contact information and e-mails for editors.

    I think there are a ton of gaps with your argument, none the least is that with your plan, you’d find in these days of budget cutting, staff cartoonists would be among the first to go unless they were a handful of the best of the best. Sound familiar, editorial cartoonists?

  12. >>what industry isnâ??t bottlenecked by limited ownership of the distribution outlets?>And in theory, nothingâ??s preventing cartoonists from making one-on-one deals with newspapers

  13. Sory, don’t know what happened to the rest of my post there, but I didn’t save it so it’ll have to remain out in the ether somewhere.

  14. I was curious if anyone knew of how this strip was picked up? It seems that a few of the recently launched strips weren’t from mailed in submissions. Since some of the syndicates won’t even respond to submissions now, is the web playing a bigger role in what gets picked up?
    Is a strong web presence more important to a new comic than the old mail in? I was just wondering if this was new trend in how the syndicates shop for a new feature?

  15. A ton of gaps in my argument? Seeing as gaps weigh nothing, “ton” is perhaps the wrong term.
    I saw Calvin & Hobbes in a bookstore, pure and simple, just as I saw “Dilbert” a couple of years later, and bought them. Iâ??d never seen them in papers. How many dead wood strips presently cluttering up the newspapers today would sell as book collections? I’d say less than 5%.
    As for your comment >>what industry isnâ??t bottlenecked by limited ownership of the distribution outlets?< <
    What industry has such limited opportunity for entry, with effectively only three gatekeepers?
    The three big syndicates, even in this day and age of hyperfast email, require print submissions which they cannot process quicker than three months.

    How long does it take to look an artist’s work and say “no thanks”? Pop Idol judges do it in seconds.

    Syndicates then allege that it takes more than $100,000 to develop a new strip to presentation standard, thus condemning any strip picked up to an interminable “development” period before it is deemed good enough to be presented to editors.
    And what is the result of this lengthy metamorphosis, this apprenticeship? Why, Mister Potato Head or the execrable “Unfit”, a feature which apparently only made it through on the strength of its creator’s relationship with Scott Adams.
    Has anyone thought to examine the track record of the major syndicates over the last twenty years, their successes and their failures?

    Surely there’s a major thesis there?
    The major syndicates are content not to develop or further strip cartooning but to squat and observe its demise, its inevitable spiral to complete irrelevance.
    The stewardship of cartooning by the major syndicates, their collusion with newspapers in driving down cartoonists wages and keeping them at 1970s levels, their lack of imagination, their laziness and their incompetence deserve nothing but condemnation.
    Why would people lobby their local newspaper to see Pearls Before Swine when they can follow it for nothing on a syndicate web site?
    How much, if any, of the syndicate’s website ad revenue is passed on to the cartoonists who attract it?
    If cartooning was big oil, syndicate heads would roll.
    >>And in theory, nothingâ??s preventing cartoonists from making one-on-one deals with newspapers< <
    That’s the trouble with theories. Everything’s do-able in them.

    Newspapers have had a whole century to be conditioned to only buying strips through syndicates.
    There is no reason, however, for newspapers to continue to be part of this farce, just as there is no reason for them to publish articles that no-one reads.
    Cartoon strips were developed to give one newspaper the edge over another or to get people (especially youngsters) to read newspapers generally.
    Today’s strips are neither fish nor fowl. Not relevant to adults, too old-fashioned for kids.

    If the cartoon revolution happened tomorrow and all the crap strip creators were rounded up to be shot, only about five would escape the bullet.
    The first newspaper or newspaper group to pick up a kick-ass strip for exclusive use will undoubtedly benefit from the experiment. Then  the domino theory will take effect.

    Opus was the best chance to prove this. If Breathed had either gone web-only or single paper-only, it would have been the best thing for him, Opus and cartooning in general.
    Instead, he blundered rudely and arrogantly into the market with loud insistences that Opus would not be seen on the web and that it must occupy a full half page in newspapers.

    Incidentally, now you can now follow it on
    Enjoy. For free.

  16. -Jonathan

    I’m sure the web is playing a much bigger role, but I think the syndicates will still consider any submission they think has potential regardless of the form they receive it in — of course what they view as having potential is the real question

    I have no idea what percentage of recent strips were web vs mail-in, but RETAIL was a mail-in submission … so they definitely still look at them.

  17. The King Features web site (Contact page) clearly states:
    “We do not accept work submitted via the internet or on disk. Due to the extremely high volume of submissions we receive, it is easiest for us to receive, track, and account for the work if everything is sent in via regular mail or courier in the format described above.”

    This has always been the case, as far as I’m aware, so mail-in is the ONLY way they’ll look at them.

    When it comes to being paid by newspapers, however, King shows a refreshing faith in the email/EFT system. No mailed-in checks. Too slow and inefficient.

  18. Hmm, I haven’t looked at the King Features submission guidelines for some time. I thought they used to look at URLs and assumed they still would … I guess I was wrong on that one.

  19. Folks
    What happened to King It hasn’t been working since first of year. I’ve been subscribing to daily comics and received no notice about web site stopping. Bummer.

  20. Russell, are you referring to subscribing by paying money, or subscribing by setting up your browser to pull up comics by thier URL? If you mean the browser action, then you need to know KFS only offers samples at its website. If you’ve been paying someone money to give you access to, you’ve been ripped off. If you are referring to subscribing to King’s pay site,, then it’s still working and you need to contact them about your account (or maybe you just need to renew.

  21. Alan,

    Thanks for the positive reviews and the support. Holding down 2 full time jobs doesn’t leave me a lot of time for surfing the web, but I was pointed to your site and visit when I can. I appreciate the insights into the business that you share with your readers and find the commentary intriguing. I am working on a website for “Brilliant Mind of Edison” Lee but time is a big issue. There never seems to be enough of it. When I get it up and running, you’ll be the first to know. Keep up the good work.


  22. Sorry to hear you are having trouble. It is still working well for me and others. You can’t use, that won’t work. If you’ve let your subscription slip, you can’t renew, you’ll have to sign up a gain. I’d suggest going to and tyring to sign up all over again as a new subscriber. To get a response, have you used the email form on their contact page? I’ve found them to be very responsive.

  23. Jeff

    Thanks for comments. However, when I say no response I mean I can’t get the web site to come up so I Can subscribe. Do you know anyone using an iMac w/OS X 10.4 who can get the web sites w/ the Safari browser? Sorry if I have too many questions for you, but it is puzzling since I had no trouble last year. Next thing for me is to ask one of my kids with Windows PC to try.


  24. I can get DailyINK to come up in Safari using OSX 10.4 on any one of three Macs (one of which is an iMac) in my house and the two in my office. Start by typing in the complete URL, and if it doesn’t come up, you have something blocking it (that is if you’re still getting to other websites.) Are you using a third-party blocking software? If so, you’ll need to reconfigure it to allow DailyINK through. If not, check Safari preferences and see if your cookie settings are allowing cookies to download. If everything’s okay there, you may have a corrupt cookie that needs to be purged. If you don’t know how to find a particular cookie, you can purge all of your cookies, but if you do that you’ll lose your settings for other websites. If all else fails, make a phone call.

  25. Mr. Hambrock:

    I noticed with humor in the Sunday, 01/13/08 release, in which one of the characters refers to teachers as glofied baby sitters.

    My wife has been teaching for some 25+ years now. We heard that comment out in the real world early in her career, and I did the math. It was shocking then, and even more so now that I’ve just updated it.

    Current sources (USA Today,, ect) seem to set the going babysitter wage at $10 per hour, or more. Let’s go with the low figure – or even better, let’s say just $8 per hour. An elementary teacher typically has charge of his/her students 7 hours per day, for about 180 days out of the year. $8 * 7 hr * 180 days comes to $10,080. Per child. A class of 15 children would generate a gross pay to the teacher of $151,200. In some areas, classes of twenty are more the norm – which brings the wage to just over $200,000 per year. One year she actually had 27 students – with NO aide.

    Baby-sitter wages? A teacher should be so lucky!

    William B.
    Ocoee, FL

  26. William.

    My wife, Anne has also been a teacher for over 25 years, my father-in-law for over 40, so the pay issue really hit home for us as well. Our local school district has been trying for years to pass a referendum which would allocate funds for the construction of a new high school. Every time it makes it to the ballot, the voters shoot it down. Our schools, especially our high schools, are overcrowded to the point of crisis, and, yes, the teachers are vastly underpaid as well. Unfortunately, the comments made by the character in Sunday’s strip are one’s we’ve heard quite often.

    I applaud your wife for sticking it out all these years! We can only hope some day that she’ll be justly compensated.

  27. Rich,

    The only part of the teacher package that is even remotely competitive in this day and age is the health insurance. There are a few districts around whose teachers are paid extremely well but they are not the norm and it is almost impossible to be the primary breadwinner on a teacher’s salary. I watched my dad work multiple jobs for years to supliment his teacher’s salary and my mom had to work full time as well. That was not so I could have a swimming pool or a pony – it was to put bread on the table. People also always like to bring up the whole “summers off” issue. Again – my folks worked other jobs all summer to cover that income gap. At least most of today’s teachers have their pay spread out over 12 months instead of 9 which helps the budget process.

    Another factor besides overcrowding that diminishes the teachers’ overall pay scale is all the extra work they have to do to deal with the learning disabled students that make up so much of today’s classroom. Between the students that are medicated (lots of fun to deal with when the meds have been missed or are at the wrong dose) and the ones who should be medicated that aren’t, the average teacher is spending an awful lot of time (in class and out) dealing with stressful situations most of them were never trained for. Our teachers are trying to mold the next generation of productive responsible adults – many of them now filling a near-parenting roll in school districts with more and more disfunctional family and home situations and we still don’t even pay them a tenth of the salary of a starting NFL quarterback. (don’t even get me started on what kind of a roll model some of those guys are.)

  28. Anne … LOL on the English … no doubt all those issues are true regarding the non-teaching aspects of teaching that are now required, in addition to being limited on how teachers can handle situations and students. I’ll leave it at that for now, as I realize I’ve gone way off topic! 😉

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