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The Lethargy of King Features

I am worried about King Features Syndicate. I am not sure that their Acquisitions Department is ACTIVELY engaged. The recent news of Deflocked leaving KFS for A/M pressed my apprehensive button.

In the past three years, King Features has lost eight comic features:
Grin and Bear It (2015),
Apartment 3-G (2015),
Edge City (2016),
Bleeker, the Rechargeable Dog (2016),
Heaven’s Love Thrift Shop (2016),
Tina’s Groove (2017),
Piranha Club/Ernie (2018),
Deflocked (2018).

During the same past three years, they have added only one title to their list. And that was back in 2015 when the Swedish import Carpe Diem joined the lineup, replacing Grin and Bear It on the schedule (CD began the day after G&BI ended). [Their King Features Weekly Service, in a 2015 shakeup, also added a new comic strip The Cashier by Ricardo Galvão.]

Since 2015 they have not signed one new comic strip. This is a major departure from their 21st century practice of adding one comic feature every year, and in the early part of that time frame two new additions was not unusual.

So why has the KFS Acquisitions Dept. suddenly gone MIA? Their salesmen are still on the ball – Zits seems to be a popular alternative to the recently ended Soup to Nutz for many editors. And their Licensing Dept. is seemingly gangbusters:  https://www.cartoonbrew.com/licensing/king-features-signs-over-a-dozen-new-licensing-deals-for-betty-boop-158160.html

But Acquisitions energy – zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Certainly with such high profile attractions as Zits, Blondie, Baby Blues, Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois, Family Circus, and some others whose circulation numbers would probably surprise me, they have a very decent share of the market.

But the lack of interest in The New is disconcerting.

Community Comments

#1 Stacy Curtis
May/3/2018
@ 11:12 am

This brings up an interesting question … now that Universal has bought The Daily Cartoonist, will The Daily Cartoonist be a pro-Universal site?
Why take a shot at King Features?

Losing comics shouldn’t be a reason to shame a syndicate. It’s good that comics are retired to allow new comics onto the comics pages. There’s a reason why kids and anyone under 60 don’t read the comics pages anymore.

#2 Mike Cope
May/3/2018
@ 12:07 pm

Not syndicated, but I know King stills considers new content. That said, all syndicate editors have noted to me that newspaper comic pages are shrinking, not getting bigger. Any new feature needs to be good enough to take another feature’s place… Unless a syndicate knows they’re ending one of their own and they try pushing a replacement before the others find out. If King already has a stable of features keeping them in business, maybe they don’t see the need to launch new material. Still, Universal has the advantage of “testing” new features via GoComics before officially launching… Maybe King needs something similar.

#3 D. D. Degg
May/3/2018
@ 1:39 pm

Stacy:
I am hoping to keep this a very neutral site; not pro Universal or anti any of their competitors. In taking on this assignment I asked about the process of submitting posts. The response was that as long as I kept up the spirit of my previous venue (rec.arts.comics.strips) pre-approval was not needed and I also needn’t worry about interference from the owner-operator. So far, so good.

And the above item is in keeping with my past practices.

But in posting this opinion piece (and I had to add “opinion” to the list of tags available) I had in the back of my mind that some would to take it as an attack piece. Let me assure you that the problem mentioned is a concern of mine based on a lifelong fan of comic strips and cartoonists, not because of who owns this site. I certainly meant no shame on KFS, there were probably as many reasons for those lost comics as there were lost comics. And I praised their sales and licensing people.

Maybe I should mention that I have a deep affection for most of King Features’ comic and editorial cartoonists. A longtime love of their features that continues to this day. Also have a unaltering admiration for their treatment of the KFS community – it is my understanding that they have been known to carry features at a loss as long the cartoonist wishes to continue. I salute their loyalty and kindness.

The above post was not sent through any channels, maybe in the future I will get someone to bounce an opinion item off of before posting.
And Stacy, I appreciate your response.
To you and any others: Please continue let me know if anything I do seems, in any way, to be taking a partisan feel.

#4 D. D. Degg
May/3/2018
@ 2:09 pm

Mike: Creators Syndicate had (has?) something like that.
Called “Alpha Comedy” it displayed their syndicated comics along with a number of independent (in development?) strips.
Don’t know if that continues.

#5 Mike Peterson
May/4/2018
@ 3:02 am

“The above post was not sent through any channels, maybe in the future I will get someone to bounce an opinion item off of before posting.”

Wit all doo respeck to a long time colleague, yes. One of the reasons I left rec.arts.comics.strips was too much speculation instead of observation. As an old beat reporter, I can say that observation is fair game, speculation needs to be backed up.

It can mean an email or phone call to ask about something specific, but there is also hope for bloggers like us in the increasing openness to fans and “associates.” The announcement that NCS is planning more public events around the Reubens makes me hopeful, not just for you and me but for fans in general, because things like the Kenosha Festival and AAEC’s increasing presence at CXC lift the curtain and increase engagement.

Offered in encouragement, not chastisement.

#6 david essman
May/4/2018
@ 6:38 am

Maybe the internet(Comics Kingdom) isn’t a big part of King Features business model. Gocomics has acquired a lot of great comics, but how many of them have actually made it to newspapers?

I’d like to see a list of comics and the number of newspapers they appear in.

#7 Norm Feuti
May/4/2018
@ 12:54 pm

King Features is launching “Daddy Daze” by John Kovaleski in June.

https://twitter.com/daddydazecomic

#8 D. D. Degg
May/4/2018
@ 5:55 pm

Yay!
I reached out to him yesterday about the revamped Dadding Badly but haven’t heard back. Would have loved to to put that item right above this one.

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