Andrews McMeel Publishing Leadership
Kirsty Melville: President, Book Division
James Andrews: Vice President, Licensing
Brent Bartram: Vice President, Operations
Dan Boston: Vice President, Sales–Calendars/Mass Markets
Kathy Hilliard: Vice President, Marketing
Cliff Koehler: Vice President, Production
Lynne McAdoo: Vice President, Sales–Books
Michael Nonbello: Vice President and Creative Director of Calendars and Greeting Cards
The History of Andrews McMeel Universal
In 1970, Andrews McMeel Universal was founded as Universal Press Syndicate by Jim Andrews and John McMeel. The two friends, both graduates of the University of Notre Dame, were encouraged by their wives, Kathleen Andrews and Susan McMeel, to act on their long-held dream of starting their own newspaper syndicate. At the time, Jim Andrews was working in Kansas City as the managing editor for The National Catholic Reporter and John McMeel was based in New York as the assistant general manager and national sales director for the Publishers-Hall Syndicate.
With an impressive company name and energetic young owners, Universal Press Syndicate began in a rented house in Leawood, Kansas—where Kathleen Andrews, as the financial officer, pored over spreadsheets on the couple's dining-room table while, upstairs, Jim Andrews, was the editorial department—and in a one-room office on Fifth Avenue in New York City where John and Susan McMeel were the syndicate's sales and marketing division. Garry Trudeau—then a student at Yale—was the first major talent to be discovered when Jim Andrews read his strip, Bull Tales, in the Yale Daily News. Trudeau's Pulitzer Prize-winning strip, Doonesbury, went on to become one of the biggest success stories in comic-syndication history, and Universal Press Syndicate became a world leader in newspaper syndication, publishing, production of calendars, gift and stationery, and the development of new media.
John and Susan McMeel joined Jim and Kathleen Andrews in Kansas City in 1975, consolidating publishing and sales operations in America's heartland. With the purchase of the Catholic publishing house, Sheed and Ward, Andrews and McMeel became the book-publishing arm of Universal Press Syndicate. As the successful fledgling publishing company grew in stature, Jim Andrews suddenly died at age 44 in 1980. The unimaginable and unexpected had happened.
Today, Andrews McMeel Universal is the largest independent newspaper syndicate in the world and an emerging leader in book and calendar publishing and gift and stationery merchandising. In 1997, the privately-held company became Andrews McMeel Universal to reflect its diversification into magazine publishing and new media. Every year, the company publishes the work of more than 125 syndicate creators and writers, more than 300 books, and a prestigious line of calendars and gift and stationery items. Andrews McMeel Universal continues to exert a lasting influence on American popular culture.
"We're a talent agency," says John McMeel, chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal and co-founder of Universal Press Syndicate. "A special kind of talent agency, because the creators and authors we represent and promote are special kinds of people. The relationships between our company and our creators and authors— and our relationships with the editors, writers and artists on our own staff—are the foundation upon which this company was built and has succeeded. Without them we'd have no company, no reason to exist."
Inspired by one of Erma Bombeck's columns, Kathleen Andrews, vice chairman of Andrews McMeel Universal, says, "Creative people are like kites. They fly high above the rest of us, inspiring us and filling us with awe. But there has to be somebody down here, on the ground, holding the string, pulling it tight, letting it out, or the kite couldn't fly. If you let go of the string, the kite will crash. But if you don't give the kite enough string, it'll never fly as high as it can. That's what our company does. We hold the string—not too tight, not too loose. The kite is the creator. And the flight of the kite is the creativity."