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King Features

Christmas Greetings – King Features 1939

The following are holiday greetings from a 1939 King Features Syndicate Christmas card set.

The artist is listed in the caption if known. If you think I’m mistaken regarding the artist, please drop me a line in the comments section below. Thanks!


Popeye – probably drawn by Tom Sims or Bela Zaboly.

Seein’ Stars by Fred (“Feg”) Murray.

The Phantom by Ray Moore, written by Lee Falk.

Mandrake the Magician by Phil Davis, written by Lee Falk.

The Little King by Otto Soglow.

Just Kids by August Daniel Carter.

The Katzenjammer Kids by Harold Knerr.

 Santa Claus by Louis Biedermann 

Krazy Kat by George Herriman.

Tim Tyler’s Luck by Lymann Young.

Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson.

The Lone Ranger by Charles Flanders.

Barney Google and Snuffy Smith by Billy DeBeck.

Art by Alex Raymond (Flash Gordon).

Prince Valiant by Hal Foster.
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King Features

Evelyn Smith Retiring from King Features

Wishing King Features Senior Comics Editor Evelyn Smith a happy retirement!

As her social media presence is purposefully nil, here’s a pic of her swiped from John Kovaleski’s blog holding the press kit for the launch of his new strip Daddy Daze.

The Daily Cartoonist states that Evelyn spent the 1980s and 1990s as a Managing Editor for Tribune Media Services, then the 2000s and 2010s as a King Features Syndicate editor.

I worked with her during her King Features’ stint – first as a colorist – and more recently as the artist on Sally Forth. She’s one of those people who worked behind the scenes and in the trenches in this business, making sure deadlines were met and that the trains ran on time. She always had my back when needed during a deadline crunch and was a pleasure to work with.

 Here’s wishing her a well deserved rest from the daily grind of comic deadlines!

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Flash Gordon King Features

Laid Off from King Features

Fun fact: The Flash Gordon comic strip for June 3, 2018 was originally released December 20, 1998 when the entire Comic Art Department of King Features in New York (myself included) was being laid off.

The “ancient dialect” I had the evil sorcerer Choong-li speaking is English backwards. Notice the difference between the text in the 2018 strip compared to the one from 1998?


And for those interested, here’s the full strip.

And that’s…

Categories
King Features

King Features – Frank Chillino

When I was hired to work on staff in the Comic Art bullpen at King Features back in 1989 my immediate boss was Production Supervisor Frank Chillino (1920-2007).

1993 King Features Christmas party in New York City Left to right - Jim Keefe, Frank Chillino and Jerry Craft.
1993 King Features Christmas party in New York City
Left to right – Jim Keefe, Frank Chillino and Jerry Craft.

Frank worked under a number of Comic Art department heads – among them…
Sylvan Byck (1904-1982): Head of the Comic Art department from the 1950s until 1978.
Bill Yates (1921-2001): Head of the Comic Art department from 1978 until 1988.
Jay Kennedy (1956-2007): Head of the Comic Art department from 1988 until 2007.

Frank Chillino was the guy at King Features who made sure the trains ran on time. He also devised and implemented the standardized system to format strips for newspapers that’s still used today – a template where a strip drawn in a half page format could be reformatted to a third or quarter page quickly and efficiently. It helped streamline the process saving countless hours of production time (and money) for King.

He was there with the pioneers of the industry – Chic Young, George McManus, Harold Foster, Alex Raymond, Jimmy Hatlo, Roy Crane, Milton Caniff, Fred Lasswell and Bela Zaboly just to name a few.

In a feature piece in Cartoonist Profile he recalled, “When I joined the bullpen in January 1944, I was twenty four years old. Brad Kelly, who was the comics editor, hired me and placed me at a drawing table next to Bud Saggendorf who was then handling production. For my first assignment, Bud sent me to the supply room for a bucket of benday dots which were used on daily strips for grey tones. Being young and naive I did what he requested. Irving Winters who handled supplies said, “Hey kid, he’s pulling your leg! There’s no such thing as benday dots, only a benday acetate sheet with dots printed on it.” Was my face red! When I brought back the sheets and an empty bucket we all had a good laugh. This was the beginning of a lasting friendship between Saggendorf and myself… About a year later Sag was assigned to draw the Popeye comic books. With his suggestion to Brad Kelly I was appointed comic art production supervisor.”

Some other of Frank’s recollections…

“King had a room set aside for visiting cartoonists then, which offered us the opportunity to watch them at work. These guys could ink their strips without penciling. Roy Crane worked on craft tint paper and when he brought the tones up with his brush on backgrounds, the strips would virtually explode with action.”

“Jose Luis Salinas was brought up in 1950 to pen The Cisco Kid which I lettered for 18 years. He was one of our finest illustrators. Alex Raymond, also a great illustrator, idolized Salinas work. Whenever Alex came to KFS he would sit and watch Salinas pencil and brush through his Cisco strips for hours at a time. Jose worked in our bullpen for about six months before he returned to Argentina.”

“There was an aura about them (the cartoonists) when they visited the bullpen. They were fun guys always playing jokes on one another.”

Frank once wrote of his job at King, “I always believed that maintaining a rapport with our (King Features) cartoonists was of utmost importance. Letting them know we cared, and knew that they were out there doing their thing for us – drawing cartoons.”

When he retired in 1990 he had 45 years at the Syndicate under his belt.
The following piece ran in Cartoonist Profiles #88, December 1990 (cited above) and pretty much encapsulates the history of the syndicated newspaper strip.

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Frank Chillino – Truly one of King Features’ greats!

-Jim Keefe

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Categories
King Features New York Ramblings & Reviews

The Palm Restaurant’s Wall of Cartoons – Gone.

The Palm Restaurant’s famous walls, drawn on by cartoonists since the early days of the comic strip, are no more.

The Palm with it's legendary wall of cartoons.
The Palm with its legendary wall of cartoons.

White walls where the drawings once were.
White walls where the drawings once were.

From New York’s Pix 11 on the closing of this historical steak house….

“The owners of the original Palm restaurant decided to permanently close the space after renovating it proved to be too costly. The Palm had been a fixture at 837 2nd Avenue in Manhattan since 1926. The restaurant is known for it’s caricature-covered walls.

Artists hand-sketched the cartoons in exchange for meals throughout the years. Many worked at nearby King Features Syndicate, a comic company. The famed walls were restored in 1995.

Today, Palm restaurants worldwide are run by direct descendants of the founding owners. It was impossible, they said in a statement, to take the original artwork with them.”


When I worked at King Features back in the late 80s, King Features was at 216 East 45th Street. At the end of the block where 45th met 2nd Avenue was the Palm.

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Along with restaurants like the now defunct Pen and Pencil (another steakhouse where cartoonists hung out), The Palm was part of New York’s legendary Steak Row.

Here’s a little fun fact, steakhouses were in abundance in the area because in the early part of the 20th century the slaughterhouses were located just down the street along the East River where the UN now stands. But I digress…

The first time I ever went to the Palm was when I was working on staff up at King Features as their colorist. My boss at the time, Frank Chillino, told me that Joe D’Angelo (King Feature’s president at the time) just had lunch recently with some cartoonists at the Palm and they had added some new cartoons to the walls. My job was to go over there, bring some paint, and add some color to them. I got there before the restaurant was open for business and carefully added color between the lines of permanent marker the cartoonist had drawn – and for the life of me I can’t remember which characters they were.

What I do remember was looking at those beautiful walls filled with cartoons…


The following are pics from an old New York Magazine spread.

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Some vintage shots.

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A few more from Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York.

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I got to have lunch there once, and on King Features’ dime, with fellow Comic Art Department staff member Jerry Craft. Not being a steak connoisseur (hotdog anyone?) I was completely out of my league in the restaurant but soaked up the atmosphere as it was one of those New York and cartooning institutions.

That little piece of comic history is gone now. Glad I was at least a part of it in some small way.