Fast Facts: Newspaper Comic Strips

May 1, 2017

Newspaper Comic Strips

Did you know that newspaper comic strips like MUTTS are distributed by companies called syndicates? Syndicates operate on behalf of comic artists and columnists to place their work in newspapers across the country or world. And since 1994 when Patrick McDonnell first created MUTTS, the strip’s syndication has expanded to appear in more than 700 newspapers in 20 countries.

Old Friends MUTTS Strip
“Spending Time With Old Friends” November 20, 2005

Here are some other fun facts about syndication and newspaper comic strips:

  • MUTTS is represented by King Features Syndicate, which is owned by The Hearst Corporation. King Features celebrated its 100th anniversary in November 2015. Other comics and brands represented by King Features include Blondie, Krazy Kat, Betty Boop, Popeye, Family Circus, and more.
  • Daily cartoonists (like Patrick McDonnell) publish new strips every single day of the year, and they work weeks — sometimes even months — ahead. This ensures that they never fall behind, and also provides newspapers with plenty of time to edit and format the content before it’s time to go to print.
  • Newspaper comic strips have shrunk over the years. In the early 1900s, a strip would often stretch across the entire page, and could be more than four inches tall.
  • The longest-running comic strip, The Katzenjammer Kids, debuted in 1897. It was also considered to be the first comic strip to utilize speech balloons to express dialogue between characters.
  • Charles Schulz didn’t particularly care for the name Peanuts for his celebrated strip. He originally wanted to name it “Li’l Folks” (but United Media — his syndicate at the time — insisted on “Peanuts”). This is why so many of Schulz’s books and television specials didn’t include “Peanuts” in their titles.
  • In 2014, Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) came briefly out of retirement to contribute his artistry to Pearls Before Swine, a comic strip authored by Stephan Pastis. The two collaborated secretly and only notified the public after all three panels to which Watterson had contributed ran in the paper.
  • In 1975, Garry Trudeau (creator of Doonesbury) became the first daily comic strip artist to win a Pulitzer Prize. That same year, President Gerald Ford even commented, “There are only three major vehicles to keep us informed as to what is going on in Washington: the electronic media, the print media, and Doonesbury, not necessarily in that order.”

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