Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Comic Web Sites Are Going Head-to-Head

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Comic Web Sites Are Going Head-to-Head

Article excerpt

The new, rapidly growing uComics.com is competing with powerhouse comics.com for the eyeballs of cartoon fans

Universal features were disunited from United's site and put on a new site run by a former Universal division, which just made its site more universal by uniting with Tribune. Also, one site is e-mailing comics, and the other's about to.

Yes, much is happening at two consumer-oriented, humor-laden, online entities that feature the almost identical addresses of http:// www.comics.com (from United Media) and http://www.uComics .com (run by uclick, the Web-distributing firm spun off a year ago from Universal Press Syndicate).

First, some history. Back in 1999, a number of Universal comics were added to comics.com, which already offered comics from United, Creators Syndicate, and the Washington Post Writers Group.

But this past fall, uclick pulled the Universal comics from United's site and put them on its new uComics site. And last week, Tribune Media Services announced that more than 60 TMS features would be added to uComics, giving the site a total of more than 100 content offerings. These include strips such as "Doonesbury" and "Garfield," editorial cartoons by people such as Paul Conrad and Pat Oliphant, columns such as "Dear Abby" and "News of the Weird," games such as "Jumble," and animated and interactive features.

So uComics.com has quickly become a formidable competitor to comics.com -- whose roster of 80-plus comics includes "Dilbert," "Peanuts," "For Better or For Worse," "B.C.," and the interactive "Trevor." It also offers 14 editorial cartoonists, including Steve Benson and Rob Rogers, and just began posting cartoons from The New Yorker magazine.

The 6-year-old United site, renamed comics.com in 1999, amassed 129 million page views during the fourth quarter of 2000 -- up 12% from the fourth quarter of 1999 and an average of about 43 million page views a month. The uComics site received about 10 million page views in January, two months after it launched. "This exceeded our expectations," said uclick President and CEO Harry Campbell.

Of course, high traffic can attract more advertisers to a site and lead to more sales of comics-related merchandise.

United's reaction to uComics.com? "The competition is good and healthy for both of us," said Lisa Klem Wilson, United vice president for sales and marketing. …

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