McNaught Syndicate

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First episode of Alfred Andriola's Charlie Chan Sunday comic strip (October 30, 1938), distributed by the McNaught Syndicate. The daily strip began earlier that week (October 24, 1938).

The McNaught Syndicate (1922–1989) was an American newspaper syndicate founded in 1922. It was established by Virgil Venice McNitt (who gave it his name) and Charles V. McAdam. Its best known contents were the columns by Will Rogers and O. O. McIntyre, the Dear Abby letters section and comic strips, including Joe Palooka and Heathcliff. It folded in September 1989.


Virgil McNitt (1881–1964) first tried his hand at publishing a magazine, the McNaught Magazine, which failed.[1] He then started the Central Press Association in Cleveland, Ohio.[2]

In 1922, McNitt and Charles V. McAdam (1892–1985) transformed the Central Press Association into the McNaught Syndicate with headquarters in The New York Times building.[3][4] Will Rogers' weekly column started in 1922 in 25 newspapers. By 1926, his daily column ran in 92 newspapers, and it reached 400 papers three years later, making him one of the best paid and most read columnists of the United States at the time.[5] Writers syndicated by McNaught in those first years included Paul Gallico, Dale Carnegie, Walter Winchell and Irvin S. Cobb.[6] By the early 1930s, the McNaught Syndicate had a stable which included columnists O. O. McIntyre and Al Smith and at one time even syndicated a letter by Albert Einstein.[7] From 1925 until 1951, Charles Benedict Driscoll was one of the editors and contributors for the syndicate.[8]

Comic strips[edit]

One of the first syndicated artists was Rube Goldberg. McNaught's line-up of comic strips included Mickey Finn and Dixie Dugan. Ham Fisher's Joe Palooka was at first rejected by McNitt, but Fisher was hired as a salesman for the syndicate, offering McNaught's features to newspapers. After having sold his comic to 20 newspapers, McNitt had to change his opinion and added Joe Palooka to the syndicate, becoming one of the big successes for it.[9]

From 1937 until 1939, many of the syndicate's comic strips were reprinted in the comic book anthology Feature Funnies. In 1939, the syndicate hired Vin Sullivan, then editor of Action Comics, to start a new comics publishing company, Columbia Comics, which would carry both new comics and reprints of McNaught syndicated comics like Joe Palooka. The company existed until 1949 and is best remembered for their publication Big Shot Comics.[10]

Other successes included columns by Dale Carnegie and Dear Abby by Abigail Van Duren. At the time of McNitt's death in 1964, the syndicate was still led by McAdam, providing contents to 1,000 newspapers.[3]

The syndicate continued columns and strips which were already successful when acquired, but it also was active in creating and suggesting new content, from the Will Rogers columns to comic strips like Don Dean's Cranberry Boggs.[11] In one case, McNitt supported a crossover between the comic strips Joe Palooka and Dixie Dugan, a feat which was commented upon by Editor & Publisher.[12]

Their last success came with the comic strip Heathcliff, which they syndicated from the start in 1973 until the late 1980s. Heathcliff appeared in some 1,000 newspapers, and the McNaught Syndicate became the production company for a few Heathcliff movies, including Heathcliff: The Movie from 1986.[13] By 1987, McNaught had only 24 features left, making it the tenth largest comic strip syndicate in the United States at that time.[14] The syndicate eventually folded in September 1989.[15]

Main syndicated content[edit]


This shows how McNaught's Dixie Dugan and Joe Palooka appeared in the comics section of the weekly Grit newspaper. Grit published Sunday strips in black-and-white rather than color. (The Donald Duck comic at the bottom was distributed by King Features.)

Comic strips and cartoons[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Today". Time. 1933-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  2. ^ Simpson, James Herver; McNitt, Frank (2003). Navaho Expedition. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. lxxxi. ISBN 978-0-8061-3570-0. 
  3. ^ a b "McNitt obituary". Time. 1964-06-26. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  4. ^ Rogers, Will (2005). The Papers of Will Rogers. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 277. ISBN 978-0-8061-3704-9. 
  5. ^ Yagoda, Ben (2000). Will Rogers: A Biography. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-0-8061-3238-9. 
  6. ^ Robinson, Ray (1996). American Original: a life of Will Rogers. Oxford University Press US. p. 158. ISBN 978-0-19-508693-5. 
  7. ^ "Stablemates". Time. 1931-03-21. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  8. ^ Riley, Sam G. (1994). Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists. Popular Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-87972-630-0. 
  9. ^ Caplin, Elliot (1995). Al Capp Remembered. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 75. ISBN 978-0-313-29192-0. 
  10. ^ "Tom-Tom, Vol. 1, No. 2". Oddball Comics. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  11. ^ Waugh, Coulton; Inge, M. Thomas (1991). The Comics. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-87805-499-2. Don Dean, its creator, credits Charles V. McAdam, President of theMcNaught Syndicate, with being the guiding light of the strip 
  12. ^ Stephen J., Monchak (1940-02-17). "Editors Split on Fusion of 'Strips'". Editor & Publisher. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  13. ^ "McNaught Syndicate". IMDb. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  14. ^ Alexander, Katina (1987-06-14). "A Superhero for Cartoonists". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  15. ^ "Family offers plenty of fodder to journalist's quick wit". Ohio University Today. 1998. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  16. ^ Riley, Sam G. (1995). Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-313-29192-0. 
  17. ^ Barbas, Samantha (2005). The First Lady of Hollywood. University of California Press. p. 185. ISBN 978-0-520-24213-5. 
  18. ^ "Fair-Haired Boys". Time. 1939-10-02. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  19. ^ Riley, Sam G. (1995). Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-313-29192-0. 
  20. ^ "My Day". Time. 1936-01-13. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  21. ^ "Lyons' New Den". Time. 1941-06-30. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  22. ^ "Columnists v. Columnist". Time. 1935-07-08. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  23. ^ "Obituary". Time. 1951-01-29. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  24. ^ "Syndicate Wars". Time. 1977-09-12. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  25. ^ "Sister Confessors". Time. 1957-01-21. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  26. ^ "Breeches Boys". Time. 1936-10-05. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  27. ^ Beasley, Maurine Hoffman (1987). Eleanor Roosevelt and the Media. University of Illinois Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-252-01376-8. 
  28. ^ Sleeman, Elisabeth (2003). International Who's Who of Authors and Writers 2004. Routledge. p. 483. ISBN 978-1-85743-179-7. 
  29. ^ "New Columnist". Time. 1943-04-10. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  30. ^ "Colyumist Smith". Time. 1930-11-24. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  31. ^ "New Outlook". Time. 1932-08-29. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  32. ^ "Sunday Stuff". Time. 1931-01-12. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  33. ^ "Eager Beaver". Time. 1951-06-11. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  34. ^ Riley, Sam G. (1995). Biographical Dictionary of American Newspaper Columnists. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 331. ISBN 978-0-313-29192-0. 
  35. ^ "Lala Palooz". Time. 1936-11-09. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  36. ^ Brennan, Elizabeth A.; Clarage, Elizabeth C.; Topping, Seymour (1999). Who's Who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-57356-111-2. 
  37. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2006). Who's Who in Animated Cartoons. Hal Leonard. p. 135. ISBN 978-1-55783-671-7. 
  38. ^ "The Bungle Family". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  39. ^ Waugh, Coulton; Inge, M. Thomas (1991). The Comics. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 295. ISBN 978-0-87805-499-2. 
  40. ^ "Dixie Dugan". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  41. ^ "Heathcliff". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  42. ^ "Wally Returns". Time. 1938-10-17. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  43. ^ "The Jackson Twins". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  44. ^ "Joe Palooka's Future". Time. 1959-09-14. Retrieved 2008-09-04. 
  45. ^ "McNaught Syndicate Offers Auto-racing Strip". Editor & Publisher. 1952. Retrieved 2008-09-05. 
  46. ^ Reynolds, Moira Davison (2003). Comic Strip Artists in American Newspapers, 1945–1980. McFarland. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-7864-1551-9. 
  47. ^ "Toonerville Folks". Toonopedia. Retrieved 2008-09-05.