April 6, 2018
New twists in the comic lifecycle
Although the vastness of the Internet is changing how comic strips are seen and read, limited newspaper space still makes breaking into the traditional market somewhat difficult. Newer strips often have to wait to take the place of retired or canceled strips. One character waited 49 years to get a strip: Mr. Potato Head (owned and licensed by Hasbro), was launched as a strip in July 2001, after the property won rave reviews as a cameo character in the Disney/Pixar Toy Story movies.
NowHasbro has tapped the character, originally a hit toy in the 1950s, for further expansion via licensing.
Famed cartoonist Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, and collaborator Brett Koth devised a strip with an entire Potato Head family, including the kids Chip and Julienne. According to Tom Klusaritz, Hasbro VP publishing, the comic strip presents a way to build the brand and saturate the market with daily doses of the characters' antics.
"It's a slower build, but one that produces a solid foundation," says Klusaritz, adding that Hasbro will launch a licensing strategy based on the strip at Toy Fair this month.
The relatively new Mr. Potato Head is currently seen in over 80 newspapers. A more established strip, such as Blondie, boasts a presence in 2,000 newspapers in 55 countries and 35 languages. That kind of constant presence is what licensors dream about - and what makes comic strips a compelling base for retailing.
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