Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

November 18, 2008

King Features Launches Comics Kingdom

No one's going to believe me, which is fine, but I swear I knew nothing about this beforehand. King Features today formally launches its own web-based comics application, Comics Kingdom, that works with newspaper sites in order to enhance their comics offerings and facilitate traffic in their direction. On first glance -- and I reserve the right to change my mind on this -- this seems to me to stand in stark contrast to United Media's just-announced revamp, whereby a ton of material including extensive archives is put on-line at the syndicate level, with the idea that there's an eventual boost for the individual strip and their newspaper clients from the increased exposure and ability for individual readers to sample and subscribe.

imageObviously, I have no idea what will work in the long run, and I'd suggest no one really does, even when they bluster and use capital letters and a well-placed, funny insult or two. It's just that my gut and my head together find encouragement in a strategy that works with newspapers and their sites and directly addresses the issue of ad revenue for such sites. In the end it just seems to me that with people winnowing down their basic on-line destinations that there's a greater likelihood of comics finding a place with something that ties into people going to their local or most vital newspapers as opposed to those same folks all of the sudden catching Drabble fever just because more of it is out there now. It also keeps the syndicate in partnership with newspapers in a way that should protect the remaining millions of dollars that are available to made through print, which figures indicate has significant reach no matter how poorly it's constructed to meet the challenges of the current market or how many people are performing last rites (or in the cases of the businesses running newspaper, seppuku). It also ostensibly allows for other strategies to be tried without having to move away from free, which is one difficult move.

So I guess we'll see how it goes, and how it's executed, but theory-wise I'm encouraged by this. I also think it's good I'm finding out about this in USA Today. I'm a bit disappointed neither United Media nor King Features chose to contact this site and sites like it beforehand to give me a heads-up on this release or to point me towards their test project or to offer up principals for interview. I'm not surprised, though. The syndicates frequently display hostility towards/disdain for/discomfort with new media that I find increasingly ludicrous as the years pass, but at least in terms of the overall announcement it's clear there's some publicity going on with Comics Kingdom.

Updated: I got a press release on it from KFS at 10:43 AM ET.

I do like Drabble
posted 7:25 am PST | Permalink

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