Visit to Andrews McMeel Universal Syndicate

This past weekend our chapter of the National Cartoonists Society gathered in Kansas City, MO for an afternoon of presentations at Andrews McMeel Universal. They are the company behind GoComics and the syndicate that distributed The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes as well as modern webcomics like Sarah’s Scribbles, Heart and Brain, and Phoebe and her Unicorn.

There’s also a giant wall featuring drawings by their most popular cartoonists, past and present.

John Glynn, president of Andrews McMeel Universal, served us assorted beverages and gave us a guided tour of the syndicate offices.

Comic book artist Bob Hall admires a framed cartoon about the creative process by the late, great Richard Thompson.

The staff never stop thinking about comics, even on bathroom breaks.

After the tour we gathered in the main conference room. Cartoonist Eric Scott kicked things off with a prevention of his licensing art, his work for clients like MAD Magazine, as and samples from his syndicated strips Back in the Day and 1 and Done.

University of Nebraska Professor Richard Graham discussed the life and work of illustrator Rose O’Neill, who’s Kewpie Doll characters launched the first big licensing craze in American history. Graham is working on a book about the Kewpie Dolls that will be released in 2019. His previous book about World War II propaganda cartoons was an Eisner Award nominee.

Keynote speaker Wiley Miller discussed his syndicated strip Non Sequitur.

Miller designs his gags to work in both horizontal and vertical formats. Using this template, he keeps the main art in the center square and puts one copy of the caption/punchline in the edge of the horizontal zone and another duplicate copy in the vertical zone.

Here’s an example of how that works. The cartoon is designed so publishers can crop it two different ways.

After the presentations several cartooning books, prints, and original art were raffled off to raise funds for the chapter.

The day ended back in the lobby with a catered dinner and cocktails, again courtesy of the fine folks at Andrews McMeel Universal.
Everyone drove back home really jazzed and inspired to keep cartooning!