BLE NEW EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHT: King Features

The division of Hearst Corporation is making its debut at BLE.
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William Randolph Hearst consolidated his distribution operations during the early 20th century, founding an organisation that could offer a large menu of comics and text features, from which newspapers could choose to make their content more varied and interesting.

King Features Syndicate (stand C060) was incorporated in November 1915 and has been a division of Hearst Corporation ever since.

Hearst Corporation's major interests include magazine, newspaper and business publishing, cable networks, television and radio broadcasting, internet businesses, TV production and distribution, newspaper features distribution and real estate. The Funnies began to capture public imagination duri

ng the early 20th century and the pen-and-ink characters spurred further publishing ventures. Comic books originated in the mid-1930s in the US and King Features created King Comics: A Book of Laughs and Thrills, in 1936.

Popeye appeared in the first issue of King Comics, along with other King Features characters and soon, his adventures were being translated into different languages around the world. Popeye also inspired a range of wind-up toys, puzzles and kazoo pipes, among others.

The firm's longest-standing licensee is Allen Canning, who has been making Popeye canned spinach since 1950. Popeye, Olive Oyl, Betty Boop, Baby Boop, Hagar, Flash Gordon, Phantom, Mandrake and new graffiti art brand, Sprayground are all on show at BLE. While King Features Licensing was initially based on the exposure from its comic strips, the firm has since expanded into cartoon characters such as Betty Boop and Baby Boop; food brands such as Bazooka and art properties such as Romero Britto and Sprayground.

Cathleen Titus explains: "We were exhibitors during an earlier iteration of this show, and have been visitors to BLE for the past several years.

"The show has developed into an important venue for EMEA licensing, providing opportunities to meet with our UK agent and licensees, and also our other European and Middle Eastern agents and partners.

"We decided to commit to a stand for 2010, in cooperation with our UK agent, Allsorts Licensing, and this year we will also be seeing colleagues from India, South Africa and Australia, so the reach of the show is growing significantly."

While exhibiting at the show, the firm is hoping to build its fashion programmes with Popeye, Olive Oyl and Betty Boop by sharing new designs and products with current and prospective licensees.

King Features is also hoping to communicate the success of the Baby Boop brand extension, to highlight its classic adventure properties Flash Gordon, Phantom and Mandrake, and its comic strip Hagar The Horrible and to promote Sprayground.

Titus continues: "We are actively pursuing digital opportunities for all platforms, for both comic strip and character-based applications."

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