How it started

The Andrews McMeel Universal (AMU) story begins with the dynamic partnership of Jim Andrews and John McMeel — two charismatic innovators who challenged convention to give voice to the groundbreaking comic storytellers and cultural commentators of the day.

In 1970, Jim and John joined forces to act on their long-held dream of establishing their own media enterprise. With the support and encouragement of their wives, Kathy and Susan, they launched Universal Press Syndicate (UPS).

From a modest beginning (the Andrewses, in a rented house in Leawood, Kansas, where Kathy, as the financial officer, pored over spreadsheets on the couple’s dining room table while Jim, the editorial department, toiled upstairs in a bedroom office; and the McMeels, running sales and marketing from a one-room sublet on Fifth Avenue in New York City), Andrews McMeel Universal has grown to be a global, independent and integrated media company.

Distinguished by a creator-first approach and an uncanny ability to tap into the zeitgeist of popular culture, AMU’s remarkable roster of talent — in newspaper syndication; book, calendar and greeting card publishing; digital consumer experiences and entertainment licensing — includes dozens of New York Times best-selling authors and winners of Pulitzer Prizes, Reubens and Emmy Awards.

Jim and John’s entrepreneurial vision, progressive business philosophy and steadfast commitment to the artistic goals of each creator continue to serve as the foundation of AMU’s culture.


1970s Highlights

  • Universal Press Syndicate (UPS) is founded and Andrews McMeel Publishing (AMP) is established three years later.
  • UPS syndicates Seymour Hersh’s Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé of the My Lai Massacre.
  • UPS launches Garry Trudeau’s revolutionary comic strip Doonesbury.
  • Ziggy, by Tom Wilson, launches in newspapers and merchandising to serves as the cornerstone of AMP’s calendar division, which is now recognized as the world’s premier calendar publisher.
  • UPS introduces Cathy, by Cathy Guisewite, and For Better or For Worse, by Lynn Johnston, giving groundbreaking voice to female perspectives in comics.
  • UPS syndicates venerated columnists James J. Kilpatrick, William F. Buckley Jr., Mary McGrory and James Beard.

1980s Highlights

  • Dear Abby, the world’s most widely syndicated column, and renowned political cartoonist Pat Oliphant join UPS.
  • AMP publishes the first collection of Gary Larson’s The Far Side® and UPS syndicates the strip. The Far Side® Off-the-Wall Calendar becomes the best-selling calendar in history.
  • UPS introduces Bill Watterson’s beloved Calvin and Hobbes and AMP publishes the first Calvin and Hobbes book.
  • AMP enters the gift and stationery market with greeting cards, postcards and posters.
  • Roger Ebert’s book A Kiss Is Still a Kiss is published and UPS begins syndicating his column.
  • Humor columnist Erma Bombeck joins UPS.
  • FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, launches in newspapers.

1990s Highlights

  • AMP begins publishing Mary Engelbreit books and calendars.
  • AMP publishes Scott Adams’ first Dilbert collection and a best-selling calendar. UPS later syndicates the strip.
  • UPS begins national syndication of Where I’m Coming From by Barbara Brandon-Croft, making Brandon-Croft the first nationally syndicated black female cartoonist.
  • The first Magic Eye book is released and sparks a pop-culture sensation.
  • Doonesbury character Andy Lippencott, the first openly gay character in a nationally syndicated comic strip, is diagnosed with HIV in 1989 and dies of AIDS in 1991. Andy’s story later results in Trudeau being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
  • UExpress becomes the company’s first consumer website.
  • Garfield, the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, joins UPS.
  • For Better or For Worse character Lawrence Poirier, a close high school friend of one of the comic strip’s primary characters, Michael Patterson, reveals to Michael that he is gay. This resulted in creator Lynn Johnson being a “nominated finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1994, citing that the strip “sensitively depicted a youth’s disclosure of his homosexuality and its effect on his family and friends.
  • UPS syndicates Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks, which enhances diversity in the comic pages through its satire of African-American culture and American politics.
  • Andrews McMeel Universal is established as the corporate identity for all divisions.

2000s Highlights

  • AMP publishes Bradley Trevor Greive’s The Blue Day Book, which buoys spirits in the aftermath of 9/11.
  • The Puzzle Society launches online and becomes an integral part of UExpress.
  • MyComicsPage (now GoComics) is created to deliver digital content to consumers.
  • AMP publishes The Complete Far Side and The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.
  • The Posh® and Pocket Posh® brand of puzzles, calendars and coloring books is introduced.
  • AMU renovates and moves into the historic Boley Building in downtown Kansas City.

2010s Highlights

  • AMP grows its children’s line with popular AMP Kids series, including Big Nate, Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Wallace the Brave and Breaking Cat News.
  • The iconic Peanuts, by Charles Schulz, joins AMU.
  • AMS took over Jumpstart by Robb Armstrong, a renowned strip for its early feature of an African American family that began in 1989.
  • AMP publishes the web cartoon The Oatmeal by Matthew Inman. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You sells more than 1 million copies.
  • AMU begins distribution of Pearls Before Swine, Get Fuzzy, Big Nate, Miss Manners and Marmaduke, among other features.
  • AMP publishes Rupi Kaur’s transformative poetry and illustrations in milk and honey and the sun and her flowers. AMP revives the poetry genre and leads the category with nearly 50% market share, featuring Kaur, Lang Leav, r.h. sin, Amanda Lovelace and more.
  • AMP partners with Epic!, the world’s leading digital library for kids, to publish Epic! Originals series.

2020s Highlights

  • AMU celebrates its 50th anniversary.
  • Christina “Steenz” Stewart takes over as creator of Heart of the City.
  • Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury) is awarded the Golden T-Square by the National Cartoonists Society.
  • Doonesbury turns 50.
  • Ziggy by Tom Wilson Jr. turns 50.
  • “Rupi Kaur Live!” premieres on Amazon Prime Video.
  • Baby Blues, by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Big Nate debuts as an animated television series on Nickelodeon.
  • AMP launches a graphic novel partnership with Tapas Media.
  • Sherman’s Lagoon, by Jim Toomey, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Marmaduke movie premieres on Netflix.
  • Crabgrass, by Tauhid Bondia, launches in syndication.
  • Pickles, by Brian Crane, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Loose Parts, by Dave Blazek, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Mike du Jour, by Mike Lester, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Crankshaft, by Tom Batiuk, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.
  • Mother Goose and Grimm, by Mike Peters, joins Andrews McMeel Syndication.

Our Award-Winning Creators

Pulitzer Prize Winners
The Pulitzer Prize honors excellence in newspaper, magazine and online journalism; literature and musical composition in the United States.

Tony Auth, editorial cartooning

Matt Davies, editorial cartooning

Roger Ebert, criticism

Jules Feiffer, editorial cartooning

Mary McGrory, commentary

Pat Oliphant, editorial cartooning

Ben Sargent, editorial cartooning

David Shribman, beat reporting

Tom Toles, editorial cartooning

Garry Trudeau, editorial cartooning

Cynthia Tucker, commentary

Garry Wills, general nonfiction

Matt Wuerker, editorial cartooning

Reuben Award Winners
The Reuben Award is given to the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year by the National Cartoonists Society.

Scott Adams, Dilbert

Bill Amend, FoxTrot

Pat Brady, Rose is Rose

Ernie Bushmiller, Nancy

Brian Crane, Pickles

Jim Davis, Garfield

Greg Evans, Luann

Cathy Guisewite, Cathy

Lynn Johnston, For Better or For Worse 

Rick Kirkman, Baby Blues

Gary Larson, The Far Side®

Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur

Pat Oliphant, Editorial Cartoons

Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine

Charles Schulz, Peanuts

Richard Thompson, Cul de Sac

Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

New York Times Bestsellers

Sarah Andersen

Gavin Aung Than
Zen Pencils

Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
America: What Went Wrong?

Erma Bombeck
Forever, Erma

Misha Collins
Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You

Darby Conley
Get Fuzzy

Fiona Cook and Jessica Roux
Wheel of the Year

Catana Chetwynd
In Love & Pajamas

Robert Drake
Empty Bottles Full of Stories

Barry Estabrook

Anne Geddes
Down in the Garden

Leland Gregory
America’s Dumbest Criminals
Stupid History

Bradley Trevor Greive
The Blue Day Book

Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal)
5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You

John Javna
50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth

Rupi Kaur
Milk and Honey
The Sun and Her Flowers
Home Body

Gary Larson
The Far Side®

Elle J. McGuinness
Bee & Me

Stephanie Pearl McPhee
Yarn Harlot

N.E. Thing Enterprises
Magic Eye

Stephan Pastis
Pearls Before Swine

Lincoln Peirce
Big Nate

Yung Pueblo
Clarity & Connection
The Way Forward

Christine Schiefer & Em Schulz
A Haunted Road Atlas

Nick Seluk
Heart and Brain

Dana Simpson
Phoebe and Her Unicorn

r.h. sin
Empty Bottles Full of Stories
She Felt Like Feeling Nothing

Dr. Thomas J. Stanley
The Millionaire Mind

Mattie J.T. Stepanek
Reflections of a Peacemaker

Michelle Tam and Henry Fong
Nom Nom Paleo
Ready or Not!

Garry Trudeau

Abigail Van Buren
The Best of Dear Abby

Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes

Bill Watterson and John Kascht
The Mysteries

Jen Yates
Cake Wrecks