McClure Syndicate (aka McClure Newspaper Syndicate), the first American newspaper syndicate, introduced many American and British writers to the masses. Launched in 1884 by publisher Samuel S. McClure, it was the first successful company of its kind. It turned the marketing of comic strips, columnists, book serials and other editorial matter into a large industry, and a century later, 300 syndicates were distributing 10,000 features with combined sales of $100 million a year.
In 1886, McClure's college friend, John Sanborn Phillips, joined the Syndicate, and his cousin, Henry Herbert McClure, was also on the staff. Samuel McClure's brother, Robert McClure, was in charge of the London office. Allen Sangree had a position with the McClure Syndicate in 1892.
As America's first profitable literary syndicate, the company bought an author's work for about $150 and then sold the right to print it to a newspaper for $5. The company lost money during its first few years, eventually turning a profit while distributing and promoting such American authors as Mark Twain, William Dean Howells, Joel Chandler Harris and Sarah Orne Jewett. The roster of British writers included Rudyard Kipling, Robert Louis Stevenson and Arthur Conan Doyle.
One early McClure comic strip artist was Carl Thomas Anderson, who drew Herr Spiegelberger, the Amateur Cracksman beginning in 1903. In 1916, McClure purchased the Wheeler Syndicate from John Neville Wheeler. Another early comic strip artist with McClure was Percy Crosby. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Officer Reserve Corps in 1916 and being called to active service the following year, Crosby was in training at a camp in Plattsburgh, New York. While in training, Crosby created a daily comic panel, That Rookie from the Thirteenth Squad, for the McClure Syndicate, writing and drawing it from the front in France while serving as a first lieutenant in the 77th Division, AEF. The panel was collected into his first two books, That Rookie of the Thirteenth Squad (1917) and Between Shots (1919).
In 1930, Harold Matson was an editor with the McClure Syndicate, and Sheldon Mayer also joined the Syndicate as an editor in 1936. Some the McClure strips were reprinted during the 1930s in Funnies on Parade. In addition to comic strips and feature articles, McClure also syndicated books and stories. In 1938, Theodore Sturgeon sold his first story to the McClure Syndicate, which bought many of his early, mainstream stories before he became known for his science fiction.
In the late 1930s, the company was located at 75 West Street in New York City. In 1952, it was sold to the Bell Syndicate-North American Newspaper Alliance group.
Other McClure comic strips
- Batman by Fred Ray
- Beauregard by Jack Davis
- Bobby Thatcher by George Storm
- The Bungle Family by Harry J. Tuthill
- King Aroo by Jack Kent
- Once Upon a Time by Walter J. Enright
- Strange as It Seems by John Hix
- Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn by Clare Victor Dwiggins
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