Thanks to movies and television shows, one definition of the term “The Syndicate” is familiar worldwide. Coppola’s Corleone clan was hip-deep in The Syndicate—Tony Soprano ran Syndicate business in New Jersey—Vinnie Terranova infiltrated Sonny Steelgrave’s portion of The Syndicate in the first Wiseguy storyline, while Henry Hill realized his dream of becoming part of The Syndicate in Martin Scorcese’s Goodfellas. To Joe and Jane Average, “The Syndicate” means gangdom, la familia—you know, The Mob.
If you’re reading these words, however, you’re almost certainly aware of another definition for “The Syndicate,” one Joe and Jane are likely unaware of … and it’s that newspaper-type syndicate that was on my mind recently.
The Library of American Comics launched in 2007 and reprinted works from the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate in the form of Terry and the Pirates and Little Orphan Annie.
MIGHTY OAKS FROM TINY ACORNS: THE FIRST ANNIE AND TERRY DAILIES.
IDW was already releasing the third of the Tribune-News “crown jewels,” Dick Tracy, though LOAC took over the series with Volume Seven in 2009. In the previous year we had branched out to reprint a prime offering from the Associated Press: Noel Sickles’s groundbreaking Scorchy Smith.
King Features Syndicate (KFS), of course, has long been a major player in the comic strip business, and in early 2010 our first foray into reprinting KFS material with the Eisner-nominatedBringing Up Father: From Sea to Shining Sea.
THE STATELY KFS LOGO, WITH PEGASUS FRONT AND CENTER.
Syndicates are not gigantic monoliths. They have evolved down through the years—the McClure and Bell Syndicates merged; the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate has changed with the times, becoming TMS News and Features. We’ve managed to offer samplings from large and small syndicates as our range of offerings has grown. Here is a major listing of our titles and the syndicates that originally brought them to the newspaper-reading public. It’s not a comprehensive list—we didn’t get into the details of the way, for instance, King Aroo moved from McClure to Stanleigh Arnold’s boutique Golden Gate Syndicate—but we think it’s still a fun and informative little tally:
Chicago Tribune-New York News:
Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, The Gumps, Crawford, Gasoline Alley
McClure: King Aroo, Archie (early)
Bell: Miss Fury
United Feature: Li’l Abner, Tarzan
Washington Post Company: Bloom County, Outland, Opus
King Features: Bringing Up Father, Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim, Rip Kirby, Steve Canyon, Skippy, Archie (later strips), Blondie, Polly & Her Pals, The Little King, Secret Agent Corrigan
Here’s the best news: any list of LOAC-published features and their associated Syndicates will only grow in 2014. We’ve already announced Essential volumes featuring Alley Oop and The Bungle Family—Batman is on his way—and there are more surprises on the way as the upcoming new year unfolds!