At Large Getting Larger

By: Dave Astor

As syndicates struggle during these weak economic times, the roster of a Pitt Meadows, British Columbia-based distributor has grown from one to more than 35 features since April. What’s going on here?

At Large Features Syndicate President and Senior Editor Gordon Kirkland said a number of newspapers, especially smaller ones, have told him they want something different from what the major syndicates offer. “They don’t want to look identical to the paper 30 miles down the road,” he observed.

But these papers, Kirkland added, aren’t thrilled with the logistics involved in receiving work from, and sending payments to, various self-syndicated creators. “They want different stuff than their competitors, but from one source,” said Kirkland, whose roster consists of many people who were formerly self-syndicated.

So, the need for a company like At Large may be there, but how can it make enough money in this economy? Kirkland, who plowed “five figures” of his own savings into At Large, said he won’t turn a profit until at least sometime in 2002. But low overhead is helping to insure that not too much cash is being hemorrhaged — Kirkland is the only full-time staffer, though he has some help.

And Kirkland, who gives At Large creators 75% of the take (versus the standard 50%) and lets them keep their copyright, said he isn’t in this to get rich.

“I’m not envisioning this will become a multimillion-dollar enterprise,” said Kirkland, 47, who worked in marketing before becoming a columnist. He founded At Large in 1996 to distribute his “Gordon Kirkland At Large” family-humor column before expanding his syndicate’s roster starting in April.

The 20 or so At Large columns cover such topics as business, health, parenting, pets, politics, religion, seniors, technology, and travel. There’s also a column written from a gay perspective, and about 15 cartoon features.

Six of At Large’s columnists and cartoonists are Canadian, while the others are from the United States.

So far, more than 70 newspapers take one or more of the syndicate’s offerings (which can be seen at http://www.atlargefeatures.com). Given that the just-signed “Ask Anne and Nan” had 200-plus clients via United Media’s Newspaper Enterprise Association package, even maintaining some of those papers will significantly increase At Large’s reach.

“We have a saying here,” reported Kirkland: “‘If we’re not careful, this could be a success!'”

***

CARTOONIST IS ALSO DENTIST
Ending Comic Is Teeth-Pulling Job

So what career do you pursue after your comic leaves syndication? How about dentistry?

That’s what Peter Kohlsaat is returning to after deciding that his 15-year-old “Single Slices” panel wasn’t earning enough money to make it worth his while. But the Tribune Media Services creator will, in addition to working on teeth three days a week, continue to work on cartooning projects.

Getting back his dental license wasn’t easy. “I had to take all the boards over again, and it was brutal,” Kohlsaat said.

***

FROM MUSLIM PERSPECTIVE
CAIR Announces New Syndicate

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has launched a syndicate offering commentary on political, social, and religious issues from a Muslim perspective.

“For too long, the Muslim viewpoint has been largely missing from opinion and editorial pages in North America,” said CAIR Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

***

MAGAZINE CANS COLUMNIST …
… For Post-Sept. 11 Commentary

Ann Coulter, a conservative writer for Universal Press Syndicate, was axed as a contributing editor of National Review magazine after some incendiary column comments, according to The Washington Post‘s Howard Kurtz.

Writing about those behind the Sept. 11 attacks, Coulter said, among other things: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity.”

***

NEA SYNDICATING DIANA WEST
She Writes For ‘Washington Times’

Diana West, conservative columnist for The Washington Times, has entered syndication via United Media’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.

***

SCHULZ BIO AND MUSEUM
Book Scheduled for 2006 Release

A HarperCollins biography of late “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz of United Media is slated to appear in 2006. The author is David Michaelis, biographer of artist N.C. Wyeth.

Also, the Charles M. Schulz Museum (http://www.charlesmschulzmuseum.org) is slated to open next spring in Santa Rosa, Calif.

***

DICK TRACY VISITS ‘GASOLINE’
Appearance Marks 70th Anniversary

To mark the 70th anniversary of “Dick Tracy,” Jim Scancarelli has placed the cartoon detective in an Oct. 4-30 sequence of “Gasoline Alley.”

Tribune Media Services syndicates both “Gasoline Alley” and “Dick Tracy,” which Chester Gould started on Oct. 4, 1931. It’s now done by Michael Kilian and Dick Locher.

***

SHNS ROSTER GROWS WITH …
… Intro Of ‘Yard Smart’ Column

“Yard Smart,” a weekly column by horticulturist and landscape architect Maureen Gilmer, is being offered by Scripps Howard News Service.

***

ET CETERA …

The Weather Channel (http://weather.com) is expanding its international presence this fall in Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, France, and Germany. TWC is also launching a desktop application that will provide forecasts for more than 77,000 locations worldwide. The Weather Channel Newspaper Service provides content to 64 U.S. papers. …

Weather Underground (http://wunderground.com) is offering up-to-the-minute weather maps for the Mideast. …

Former syndicated editorial cartoonist Lou Grant, who was with The Oakland (Calif.) Tribune from 1954 to 1986, died at the age of 81. …

United Feature Syndicate took over distribution of the “Spooner” comic by Ted Dawson, who had been with Tribune Media Services (TMS). …

“Rhymes With Orange” cartoonist Hilary Price of King Features Syndicate has revised and expanded her Web site (http://www.rhymeswithorange.com). …

David Rosenberg joined TMS as sales manager for Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services. He previously handled ad sales for the Chicago Tribune‘s TV Week magazine. …

Rose McAllister joined King as promotion manager in the advertising and public relations department. …

In addition to its three Christmas packages, Copley News Service is offering a package of eight color-holiday images. …

Clients of Mildred Culp’s Passage Media-distributed “WorkWise” column and “WorkWise” streaming audio offering can run both features together online, like The Knoxville (Tenn.) News-Sentinel (http://www.knoxcareers.com). …

“Families Today” columnist Dr. T. Berry Brazelton of the New York Times Syndicate coauthored a new book about the preschool to first-grade years called “Touchpoints Three to Six” (Perseus). …

Online syndicator Clickability launched CMPublish, a content-management system. …

“Urban Philosophy,” a comic by R.A. Sirgiovanni, is being syndicated in English and Spanish. It stars a streetwise, good-intentioned character named Faboo. For more information, call 516-933-4000. …

Accuweather.com visitors who view the site from areas where the local forecast is 40 degrees or below will receive a text link for Visit Florida, which promotes tourism in the “Sunshine State.”




To see the last 10 “Syndicate World” columns, click here. Previous columns may be purchased in our paid archives. Search for “Astor” in the “Author” field.

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