King Features expands global publishing to tap into new audiences for its classic IP

King Features Syndicate is revitalising its global publishing programme in a move to deliver its classic franchises, such as The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Popeye to younger generations through graphic novels, coffee table books, YA books and more. The initiative to develop new partnerships for original content is being overseen by publishing director, Christina Nix Lynch

To date, the traditonal publishing programme, spanning IP including Prince Valiant and Mandrake the Magician has focused on comic reprints. While maintaining its reprint market, King Features recently shifted the focus on developing new content for both its classic and new IP.

The new publishing approach gives King Features the opportunity to introduce new audiences to its iconic properties via graphic novels, coffee table books, and YA and middle reader books.

This past year, King Features partnered with StoneBot Studios to relaunch Mandrake the Magician with a young adult comic miniseries that introduced his niece, Mandy, as the lead character. Legacy of Mandrake the Magician unveils a new generation of heroes anchored by a strong female lead who faces off against familiar Mandrake universe foes. By weaving in elements of the original storyline that first debuted more than 85 years ago, the series appeals to both old fans and new.

Last year also marked the 40th anniversary of the Flash Gordon cult-classic film and in celebration, Titan Publishing released Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film, a coffee table book filled with cast and crew interviews, never-before-seen concept art and more, allowing fans to find new things to love about the film four decades later.

In addition, King Features is planning to launch a YA graphic novel series for Flash Gordon with Macmillan that offers a new twist on the classic story as the original characters are re-imagined as young adult heroes. More information, including the imprint and launch dates for the series, will be released soon.

King Features is also reaching new audiences through publishing for its roster of syndicated comics and puzzles. Hermes Press is bringing Bill Holbrook’s On The Fastrack to young readers with a graphic novel centered around Dethany, one of the lead characters from the 36-year-old comic strip. Meanwhile, tapping into the surge in popularity that puzzles have seen over the last year, Leap Year Publishing is working to bring puzzle books based on King Features’ most popular syndicated puzzles to market.

King Features has also spotted the potential to grow its global fan bases through publishing, and in 2020 the firm’s international agents signed more than 50 publishing deals.

Since the first costumed superhero’s debut 85 years ago, King Features has continued to build awareness and grow The Phantom’s fanbase internationally. In India, where The Phantom has been a beloved character for decades, Regal Publishers is releasing 77 new titles in Malayalam and English to tap into affinity for the brand and keep the character fresh for his millions of fans. It is also introducing Mandrake the Magician to the region this year with 20 new titles.

Also in the territory, Shakti Comics will be releasing comics in English, Hindi and Bengali for Flash Gordon, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, while Lion Comics will launch Secret Agent X9, Rip Kirby, The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician comics in Tamil. The Phantom’s popularity also continues in Australia with comics from Frew, and has been thriving in the Nordics for decades thanks to the works distributed by Egmont.

“We are always seeking fresh approaches for our classic IP by partnering with a variety of publishing partners in cutting edge,” said King Features’ director of licensing Christina Nix Lynch.

“For both the longevity of our classic properties and the growth of newly launched or represented IP, it is critical that we find the right partners to develop unique and engaging takes on these characters that will appeal to both original fans and untapped audiences. We are thrilled to have such an incredible roster of publishers helping us achieve this and look forward to working closely together to continue bringing new content to fans worldwide.”

Carla Silva, King Features’ general manager and vice president, global head of licensing, added: “Publishing is a key driver in King Features’ strategic plan to re-imagine classic brands and introduce them to new audiences. And Christina’s work has been instrumental in achieving our goals. From her in-depth analysis of the category to creative thinking around formats, distribution channels and markets, while securing fresh, best-in-class publishing houses as well as emerging talent, she continues to successfully grow our program with partners that are passionate about comics and our brands. Thanks to her efforts, our publishing program is flourishing and positioned for continued growth.”

This autumn, King Features and Hermes Press will release a new coffee table-sized retrospective dedicated to the 90-plus year history of Popeye the Sailorman, while for the company’s slate of newer IP, publishing affords the opportunity to raise awareness for the brands and build a richer, more complex world for fans to explore.

One such example is the robust publishing program that King Features is developing for the acclaimed video game property, Cuphead. Ahead of the highly anticipated release of The Cuphead Show!on Netflix, King Features has signed on a full slate of global publishing partners for graphic novels, art books and middle grade readers.

Dark Horse Comics has renewed its worldwide deal to further expand its lineup of Cuphead books, detailing the launch of the “Art of Cuphead” art book and the graphic novels.

Additionally, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, who released two Middle Grade novels inspired by the video game in 2020, is expanding their program into Russia with the Exmo Publishing Group in 2021. In Spring 2022, Running Press (a subsidiary of Hachette) is joining the video game’s publishing roster with plans to release a Cuphead “Mini Kit”, consisting of a mini book and a Cuphead character figure.

In the future, King Features is also planning to introduce new graphic novels and early reader books to further expand the world of Cuphead for younger audiences.

King Features builds global licensing slate for hit video game IP, Cuphead

King Features Syndicate has detailed a ‘robust international expansion’ for its hit gaming property, Cuphead, with activity encompassing new agents and licensing deals on a global scale for the brand.

The raft of new signings will see Cuphead grow its domestic and international presence with products across apparel, accessories, novelties, publishing, and more, all of which will land ahead of the debut of The Cuphead Show this year. The series has been developed in partnership with Netflix Animation.

Studio MDHR’s award-winning video game will now come to life across the Asian market, with new accessories, apparel, houseware, novelties, toys and games from Ensky and Elsonic this year, along with a collection of apparel and accessories inspired by the game from GZ Fanthful.

Cuphead and Mugman will also be growing their presence in new territories as King Features taps new international licensing agents for the Cuphead brand. The property will be represented by Caravanserai in Spain and Portugal, and by Vertical Licensing in Brazil.

“Cuphead is a true gaming and pop culture sensation, with its popularity continuing to grow as it is discovered in new territories around the globe,” said King Features vice president and general manager, global head of licensing, Carla Silva.

“With the new animated series set to debut on Netflix later this year, we expect the demand for the property to skyrocket and we are thrilled to be expanding our licensing programs with new partnerships and renewed deals to continue bringing fans around the world products inspired by Cuphead, Mugman and their adventures.”

King Features is also growing Cuphead’s publishing program with additional graphic novels from Dark Horse Comics, which has renewed its worldwide deal to expand its existing lineup of Cuphead books. Dark Horse has also expanded its publishing programme internationally on behalf of the “Art of Cuphead” and the graphic novels, with Pix ‘N Love in France, Editoriale Cosmo in Italy, Norma in Spain, Comme il faut in Russia and Sebundo/G Novels in Japan.

Meanwhile, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, who released two Middle Grade novels inspired by the video game in 2020, is expanding its programme into Russia with the Exmo Publishing Group in 2021 and releasing a new “How To Draw” format in late 2022.

Last but not least, Running Press (a subsidiary of Hachette) is joining the roster of new partners with plans to release a Cuphead “Mini Kit” in Spring 2022, consisting of a mini book and a Cuphead character figure.

Cuphead-inspired apparel, accessories, art, toys, and novelty items are available from partners including Fifth Sun, PowerA, YouTooz, Forbidden Planet, Insert Coin Limited,

Fred & Ginger pack Popeye punch into pet products portfolio

The design-led pet product specialist, Fred & Ginger has signed up to create a range of pet treats and accessories based on the classic animation brand, Popeye. The deal was brokered by Bulldog Licensing, the European licensing agency for the property as it continues to grow its consumer products portfolio in the UK.

Fred & Ginger is set to create a full collection of feeding mats and bowls, pet beds, toys, accessories, collars and leads, along with a range of treats, including Easter eggs and advent calendars, as well as pet snacks inspired by the iconic strong man.

Having recently celebrated its 90th anniversary, Popeye remains a popular brand in the UK and the world, with a social presence of 9.8 million fans. The TV show is broadcast on Pluto TV (Theatrical Cartoons, YouTube Shorts, additional Popeye Cartoons). 

The latest deal joins an expanding licensing programme, with two new deals announced at the end of last year, Ecell and Ideal Home Shopping for tech accessories and crafting lines respectively. Additionally, both Fashion UK and Bro Global have renewed their deals for the iconic character.

The offering now spans a range of categories including apparel, accessories, dress-up, and Bulldog plans to further strengthen the portfolio in the near future.

Rob Corney, MD, Bulldog Licensing, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Fred & Ginger on board. The team has a robust experience in creating excellent licensed ranges for pet owners, and we’re excited to see their new creations for Popeye as the brand continues to delight fans throughout the UK.”

Popeye lands its first Australian sportswear partnership with The WOD Life

Merchantwise Licensing has brokered the first Australian Popeye sportswear collection withe the popular online sportswear label, The WOD Life. The deal was struck on behalf of King Features Syndicate.

Launching this month ahead of the Australian summer season, the limited-edition range of fashionably branded Popeye sportswear apparel for women and men includes a high-waisted booty short, fleet bra, motion shorts, slash crop, flex short and printed tank.

‘Popeye’s heart of gold, brave and compassionate personality shines across a number of branded sports and training accessories including a scrunchie, printed socks, an immerse headband as well as a quick dry towel and a face mask covering,’ said the company.

The branded range also extends to training support items including wrist wraps, strength wraps, a four-inch Velcro lifting belt as well as knee sleeves.

The WOD Life will be heavily supporting the range with a ‘Hype’ campaign pre-release followed by an early access marketing activity ahead of the launch at the end of this month. The WOD Life will also drive extensive marketing, digital, media and influencer outreach campaigns for the collaboration.

“For the past three years, The WOD Life has been releasing successful limited edition prints for our customers which can sell out in a matter of hours, said The WOD Life’s director, Ben Dineen.

“Popeye is a cartoon character which our customer base would be familiar with and may have grown up watching Popeye cartoons on TV or the movie during their childhood. We think our customers are going to really relate to the new Popeye x TWL range and will be excited to get into their training space to show off their new style.”

“We are so excited by this Popeye partnership with The WOD Life. Not only is it the first time we have launched an Australian Popeye branded sportswear collection, it is an incredibly comprehensive range featuring apparel, accessory and training support products that are sure to please both Popeye fans and The WOD Life’s extensive customer base,” said Merchantwise Licensing’s general manager, licensing, Kerryn McCormack.

King Features rolls out extensive slate of activity for 40 years of the 1980 cult film Flash Gordon

It’ll be a full four decades since the release of the 1980 cult classic film Flash Gordon this December 5th, and King Features Syndicate has lined up a full roster of activity, including theatrical screenings, fresh content and home entertainment, as well as new licensed products and publishing, in order to best celebrate.

“Flash Gordon’s comic adventures have influenced how we define the modern science fiction genre, but the 1980 film is what really solidified the comic star as a lasting pop-culture icon,” said Carla Silva, vice president and general manager, global head of licensing for King Features.

“We are thrilled to celebrate the 40thanniversary of the film this year with such a strong lineup of partners from across the globe. It’s our mission to continue bringing fans new Flash Gordon products and experiences that showcase their love for the savior of the universe.”

Kicking off the action, Universal Pictures and Fathom Events will present a line up of theatrical screenings in over 330 theatres across the US, each featuring an on-screen introduction to the film by actor Sam Jones (Flash Gordon), as well as the world premieres of a new Flash Gordon comic strip series called Flash Forward – the first ever motion comic strip for the brand.

Meanwhile, this summer, StudioCanal, Europe’s leader in production, distribution and international sales of feature films and TV series, brought Mike Hodges’ cult classic film back to the big screen in 4K Ultra-High definition at Picturehouse Central, The Luna Drive In Cinema and other select UK cinemas with additional screenings across France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand throughout the year.

Launched on Sunday, November 15, a new Flash Gordon original comic strip anthology project features 40 world-renowned artists and illustrators, each telling the story of Flash Gordon through their own unique lens. Talent includes Tana Ford (LaGuardia, Livewire, Black Panther), Jim Keefe (Flash Gordon, Sally Forth), and Liniers(Macanudo) among many others.

“The new product offering of Flash Gordon-inspired comic strips from King Features is an anniversary celebration that everyone who loves the Savior of the Universe will enjoy in both print and digital formats,” said the company.

Next up, Flash Gordon: A Minute to Save the World, the first-ever Flash Gordon motion comic series, made its world debut at the Fathom Events theatrical screening on November 15 when the first five 60-second episodes played on screen. This new twist on classic comic storytelling uses a fresh animation style to follow Flash Gordon’s battle to save earth from Ming the Merciless. The motion comic series is produced by King Features and drawn by David Reddick and will be available to watch on the Comics Kingdom YouTube Channel beginning Sunday, November 15.

In the consumer products space, a robust lineup of Flash Gordon-inspired merchandise and licensed products, including board games, artwork, collectibles and much is all scheduled to land.

Boss Fight Studio, a creator-owned company focused on high-quality, collectible toys, debuted its Flash Gordon figure for the 40th anniversary, which is the first Hero H.A.C.K.S. licensed character. The figure features extensive articulation, multiple hands, multiple heads and a “football” accessory to allow fans to build their collections and continue customizing in a special way.

This limited-edition figure comes packaged in a collectible retro lunchbox featuring a mix of classic movie poster art and brand-new art created by superstar comics artist, Erica Henderson.

This limited-edition figure is the first in the Flash Gordon line from Boss Fight Studio featuring both comic and movie version characters.

King Features is also in developing a new line of Flash Gordon figures with National Entertainment Collectibles Association (NECA).

Meanwhile, Plastic Meatball – creator of pop culture products that should have been, but never were – is developing a retro style Flash Gordon family board game that is launching with a Kickstarter campaign later this year, as well as a series of ‘70s style “Heat Transfer” t-shirts, enamel pins with iconography from the film, a set of four drinking glasses and ‘80s style jigsaw puzzles inspired by the film.

Additional product launches include new stylish art prints inspired by the cult sci-fi film from Art & Hue and Vice Press, Flash Gordon-inspired apparel from CEND International and Trademark Products and a Flash Gordon: Death to Ming card game coming soon from Wayland Games.

King Features is also expanding its publishing program for the brand with the launch of a 40th anniversary title from Titan Books titled Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film, on December 1.

Flash Gordon himself, actor Sam Jones, also embarked on an anniversary tour this year with stops across the country, including one where he was presented with a custom made 40th Anniversary Flash Gordon Harley-Davidson motorbike. Upcoming dates for Jones’ tour can be found on his social channels.

As King Features continues Flash Gordon’s 40th anniversary celebration throughout 2021, fans can expect to see a fresh look for Flash Gordon and his crew as new character art developed by popular comic book cover artist, Amelia Vidal (Marvel Studios, Boom! Studios), is released.

Looking ahead, a new Flash Gordon feature film is in development with 20th Century. Taika Waititi, director of Marvel’s Thor: Ragnorok and Jojo Rabbit, is attached to the production. In the meantime, the latest Flash Gordon content can be found at and the Comics Kingdom YouTube channel.

Korea’s popular animated IP Pucca makes play for US with King Features

The popular Korean animated character, Pucca is looking to make waves across the North American market, having appointed King Features as the brand’s exclusive licensing agent for the region. King Features will look to build on the international success of the brand with a licensing programme targeting milennials and children.

This year sees Pucca brand owners, CJ ENM celebrate 20 years of its flagship IP, a noodle delivery girl who falls in love with a reserved martial arts boy. First introduced to the public as the star of an animated online e-card service, Pucca’s popularity exploded around the globe, eventually leading to an ongoing animated television series, which recently aired its latest season in 3D CGI on Netflix, as well as 2D specials on Kidoodle TV in 2019.

The 3D CGI, Pucca: Love Recipe, series also airs around the world on channels including Discovery Kids, Tooniverse and MBC, and will soon launch on Prime Video and Roku, where the first two 2D seasons are currently available. Pucca has a strong international fanbase, with over 18 million views on Facebook and over 171 million views to date on YouTube.

“In times like these, everyone could use more positivity in their lives,” said Carla Silva, vice president and general manager, global head of licensing, King Features. “Pucca teaches us to love fiercely, to express freely and above all to be ourselves, and we are thrilled to welcome this vibrant and energetic brand to the King Features’ portfolio.

“Consumer demand around classic properties like Pucca remains strong and we look forward to expanding the brand into new categories through strong foundational and creative partnerships in North America that will promote long-term success.”

Young Wook Kim, head of animation at CJ ENM, said: “We are delighted to team up with King Features, whose impressive expertise and track record make them the perfect partners to further build Pucca’s appeal across North America.

“Pucca’s cool and unique look, style and joyful philosophy really strike a chord with today’s kids and young milennials and with King’s astute strategy – fresh and innovative while still staying true to the brand – we are very excited for Pucca’s future success in the territory.”

Pucca is the latest brand to join King Features’ expanding portfolio of licensed properties including Popeye, Betty Boop, Cuphead, The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Archie Comics and recent IP additions, Moomin, Tulipop and PURENorway.

The Pucca representation comes on the heels of King Features’ announcement that they have expanded representation for classic literary and art-based brand Moomin with publishing rights and new product launches in North America as they continue to grow their presence in the territory.

Moomin grows its presence across the US as King Features adds publishing rights to the licensing slate

The classic literary and art-based brand, Moomin, is expanding its presence across North America as its US licensing agency King Features adds publishing rights to its licensing slate as well as brings the brand into active baby wear for the first time in the region.

As the Tove Jansson creation continues to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year, and as part of a global deal negotiated by its Nordic licensing agency, Rights & Brands, King Features has partnered with Reima, a leading kids activewear brand from Finland, to bring its Moomin Baby Kit for newborns to the US market.

Inspired by the carefree and adventurous Moomin characters, the collection includes a stylish wardrobe full of the essential wear that babies will need during the first six months, including 17 pieces of exclusive gender neutral Moomin items.

In addition to growing Moomin in new categories in North America, King Features has also added publishing rights for Moomin to its slate and is expecting a lineup of exciting titles to come.

“Moomin has been one of the world’s most beloved character properties for generations with a highly successful global licensing program,” said King Features vice president and general manager, global head of licensing, Carla Silva.

“We look forward to introducing the next generation of families across North America to the classic heartwarming adventures of the Moomin family and their friends through fresh publishing and products.”

Moomin already has an extensive fan base in European territories and is gaining popularity in North America. The classic publishing property consists of a library of illustrated editions that celebrate the Moomin values of friendship, love, kindness, adventure, courage, tolerance, equality, freedom, individuality and respect for nature.

Moomin characters also star in a new 3D CGI series, Moominvalley, currently airing in multiple territories around the world. The new Moomin Baby Kit from Reima is the latest product line available in the US, following the launch of Moomin plush from Aurora and apparel from Ripple Junction.

Moomin can be seen next at King Features virtual exhibitor booth during the upcoming Festival of Licensing Americas event from October 20 through 22. Registered attendees can click this link to make an appointment with the U.S. licensing team.

King Features rounds off Popeye’s 90th celebrations with Filson partnership

King Features Syndicate is expanding its licensing program for its classic property, Popeye, with limited-edition clothing, stickers and a stoneware mug from Filson.

Under the new deal, Filson – the outfitter and manufacturer recognised for its calibre in the outdooring market – will launch a collection of durable graphic t-shirts and pullover hoodies, all featuring the famous sailor man.

The Popeye short sleeve t-shirts are made with heavy-duty cotton, a rib-knit collar and come in both black and white, while the Popeye pullover hoodie in black is made with 100 per cent cotton fleece, and double-layer reinforced forearms.

In addition to the Popeye inspired clothing, Filson is also debuting a limited-edition Popeye sticker collection. Made locally to Filson, in Seattle, the sticker pack features four individual Popeye designs made from durable, waterproof vinyl, paying tribute the comic-strip icon.

“King Features had an incredible year in 2019 celebrating Popeye’s 90th anniversary and we are thrilled to cap it off with this limited-edition collection from Filson,” said King Features vice president and general manager, global head of licensing, Carla Silva.

The Filson collection closes out King Features’ year-long celebration for Popeye’s 90th birthday, which included a robust merchandising programme, featuring high-end fashion collaborations with HUF, Benetton, Scotch & Soda, and new products from Zara.

It also saw the of Popeye’s Barbershop & Shave Company—a special 90th anniversary collection of men’s grooming products.

The birthday bash launched with the debut of “Popeye’s Island Adventures,” a new animated short series for children, airing exclusively on the Popeye and Friends Official YouTube channel and the highly anticipated “Popeye’s Cartoon Club” comic strip series on