A Rant about King Features Syndicate

I haven't laughed so much since Pompeii. -- chief Blue Meanie, Yellow Submarine

2 July 1998. Dear diary: today I put up a page and took it down within a few hours.

The page included an image of the Yellow Submarine from the Beatles' film of the same name. I've enjoyed that film since I was a kid. It has special resonance for me around the 4th of July.

Yesterday, working from a scan of the album cover, I converted the submarine into a vector image using Adobe Illustrator. Then I wrote a page which offered small, medium, and large Web-ready images as well as the Illustrator file itself. The one thing I wasn't sure of was who owned the copyright of the image. I assumed it was Apple Films, and they got credit on the page. The page clearly stated the images were for personal, non-commercial use only.

I just found out that the copyright is owned by King Features Syndicate. This news made me take the page down. The reason is the sad way they've treated one of their properties, George Herriman's classic comic strip Krazy Kat. If you've looked at my 1998 book list, you'll know that I'm a fan of his work. There used to be a good Web site about the strip, but King Features Syndicate effectively killed it. They wanted the page's author to pay $50 per month per image, making the site cost about $5000 per month. Instead, the images were removed.

I wouldn't argue with that if the site were commercial, but it wasn't. It was a labor of love, and an attempt to interest people in a fun bit of comic strip history. That didn't seem to matter to King Features Syndicate. They apparently don't care for Krazy Kat at all; their extensive Web site makes just one mention of the strip, and that's for licensing. They might as well just burn the originals, for all it seems to matter to them.

They don't get my support. Instead, from my non-profit site I've removed a page that gave me great satisfaction to make. Way to go, King Features Syndicate. Are you laughing all the way to Pompeii?


1998-10-11. The Krazy Kat Web site is back. King Features Syndicate contacted its creator, and they worked out their differences. So KFS isn't completely unresponsive.

Last updated 10 March 2001
All contents ©1998-2002 Mark L. Irons

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