Located in Kansas City, far from the center of the book world, Andrews McMeel is a powerhouse of newspaper comic strip reprinting, thanks to its ties to sister company Universal Press Syndicate. "We're continuing to build our cartoon and humor publishing program," said editor Erin Friedrich. The company's biggest fall release is The Complete Far Side—a hefty two-volume, $135 set collecting everything Gary Larson has ever drawn for The Far Side.
The company always does well with some familiar names, like Dilbert by Scott Adams (whose most recent book is Words You Don't Want to Hear During Your Annual Performance Review) and Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau (whose forthcoming collection Got War? ends with a series of strips about Howard Dean). "We have a very strong backlist—we're constantly reprinting the Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes and Dilbert," Friedrich said. The house has also released several breakout series, including John McPherson's Close to Home and Darby Conley's Get Fuzzy.
Andrews McMeel is also experimenting with titles collecting some even newer strips, syndicated by other companies as well as by Universal. "We like the strips we publish to appear in as many papers as possible," Friedrich told PW. "That tells us there's a vested interest and recognition from the public." Although, Friedrich also said, if a new strip shows potential, "we might make a deal before it even starts running in the papers. We're trying to reach out and form relationships with up-and-coming cartoonists."
The company has book deals with two strips that have yet to appear: Mullets by Rick Stromoski (who also does Soup to Nuts) and Steve McGarry, who happens to be president of the National Cartoonists Society; and Darren Bell's Candorville.