Thursday, 9 July 2009

Universal Press Syndicate and uClick Become One

Andrews McMeel Universal has announced a move that will combine the largest independent syndicate in the United States, Universal Press Syndicate, with digital entertainment provider UCLICK, which has been delivering comics, editorial cartoons to both Web and mobile phones. This move creates a single, full-service print and digital syndication and licensing company, now known as Universal Uclick.

The move means Andrews McMeel Universal is now composed of two distinct but collaborative organizations: Universal Uclick and Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP), a leading publisher of humour, gift, general trade, cookbooks, and calendars with more than 300 new titles annually, including the two most expensive New York Times Best Sellers on record, The Complete Far Side and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Through Universal Uclick and AMP, Andrews McMeel Universal says it is positioned to offer unique access to multi-channel distribution for authors and artists, and to take advantage of rapidly developing opportunities in syndication and licensing, both in print and in the digital realm.

Lee Salem, Universal Press Syndicate president, has been named interim chief executive officer while a search for a permanent CEO of the new company is under way. Former GoComics CEO Douglas Edwards has resigned to pursue other opportunities.

Over the past 40 years, the Universal Press Syndicate has discovered and brought to global markets many of the most popular humor, games, and editorial features in newspapers. Universal Press is a unique success story in that it has been privately owned since it was formed in 1970 by business partners John McMeel and Jim Andrews.

The company provides editorial development, licensing and other distribution services to support major iconic brands including Doonesbury and Dear Abby. The Universal Press legacy includes several of the most significant comic strips and panels in the history of the form, including Bill Watterson's beloved Calvin and Hobbes and Gary Larson's revolutionary, often controversial classic The Far Side, as well as Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Cathy, and Ziggy.

Universal Press is widely recognized for its ability to identify and to promote new talent, most recently with critically acclaimed features such as Lio, winner of the 2009 Reuben Newspaper Comic Strip Award; Cul de Sac, 2009 Award nominee; and The Argyle Sweater, a single panel cartoon that has made a huge splash in newspapers across the country and on top-selling calendars and greeting cards after just one year in syndication.

"The tradition and reputation that have made Universal Press Syndicate the destination for top-notch creative talents are now joining forces with the technological expertise, versatility, and new media innovations of Uclick," said Andrews McMeel Universal founder, chairman, and president John McMeel. "This is a historic move that brings together two industry leading companies to create a dynamic new organization capable of supporting today's renowned creative talents and the superstars of tomorrow, propelling them to new levels of popularity and success, as well as looking to the future by creating new distribution channels and outlets for this beloved art form."

Created to explore opportunities in the emerging digital realm of the late 1990s, Uclick has found great success through its efforts to distribute comics, text features, and games on desktops, the Web, and mobile phones. It offers what's described as the largest collection of comics anywhere on the Web, the GoComics.com site from Uclick aggregates more than 200 traditional comic strip and cartoon features from multiple syndicates and self-syndicated artists, including webcomic features, all in a single robust and active online community.

The most recognized newspaper Web sites, the largest Web portals, and many national media sites rely on content and technology delivered by Uclick infrastructure.

Uclick is also the leading distributor of comics and game content on mobile phones, most recently creating more than 130 apps for iPhone and iPod Touch, covering a broad range of entertainment content, including comic strips, comic books, and graphic novels, webcomics, crossword puzzles, word games, and well-known books.

The merging of Universal Press Syndicate and Uclick into Universal Uclick creates a company that Andrews McMeel Universal is confident will drive content services in the 21st century.

"It's impossible to calculate the value of reputation and innovation in the fast-changing world of content distribution," said Andrews McMeel Universal executive vice president Hugh Andrews. "The infrastructure, planning, and flexibility we provide at Universal Uclick have earned us the reputation as a trusted partner, both to those who create or manage content and to the publishers and other destinations who need new and original creative content to serve their customers."

By providing easy access, simple integration, and delivery options for both single-use licensing and long-term serialized content, Universal Uclick is in position to lead the industry in innovation and forward-thinking options.

Concluded McMeel: "Our goal since we first opened our doors for business has always been to provide inventive opportunities for our remarkably gifted cartoonists, columnists, artists, and creators, and to produce the most addictive and engaging entertainment you'll find anywhere. Universal Uclick is an organization founded with the commitment to bring that talent to the largest audience possible, through every outlet available and through channels still undiscovered."

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