News of Yore 1950: Aussie Syndication Examined

Outside Comics Display Is Envied ‘Down Under’

By Jane McMaster (E&P 7/1/50)

“I am impressed with the way influential New York papers are displayed with the color comics on the outside,” observed A. D. Gorfain, owner of Press Feature Service, Sydney, Australia. “These huge papers—and what they display is the comic strips!

“When we get to that stage in Australia, I will think we have really arrived.”

The 38-year-old syndicate head was the man behind “Streetcar Named Desire” in Australia. He distributes London Express features, which included the Desire dialogue.

Australian representative for General Features and Press Features, New York, he owns his country’s second largest feature dispensary. It’s first, he adds, in the number of features produced.

All told, his syndicate produces nine features — not so many by American standards. It’s different in other ways too:

1. Its 11 artists are staff, not work-at-home, artists. (Most of them are under 22 years old.)

2. Nine of the 11 work on children’s puzzle and brain-stimulator features. The syndicate has created 800 original puzzles for children in four and a half years.

3. The syndicate distributes no columns. “Columns written in Australia are usually not syndicated,” Mr. Gorfain comments. (A popular column there is a round up of short local human interest items, which ends with a gag. This type column is often front-paged.)

4. The country is considered “blanketed” with a feature when it runs in a capital city paper in each of the six states.

5. Mr. Gorfain’s syndicate produces comic books arid children’s books (for publishing by other firms) as well as newspaper features.

There are some “likes” too. Press Feature Service frequently serializes important non-fiction. However, serials of inspirational books are not a fad.

Perhaps the greatest kinship, Mr. Gorfain indicates, is in taste in comic strips. Australians like both gag and adventure strips — possibly in equal proportion—and have a sense of humor more American than British, he believes. One of his Sunday comics,”Holly,” drawn by 19-year-old June Shoesmith could be a sister to Harry Haenigsen’s “Penny.”

“American comics are very popular in Australia,” Mr. Gorfain comments. “And as a syndicate we rather like that. It keeps us on our toes.”

Mr. Gorfain at one time booked films for Metro Goldwyn Mayer but after serving five years in the Royal Australian Air Force decided there was opportunity in the feature field. His trip here was via England and Canada where he placed with syndicates both the children’s features and a “Cross-quiz” — a crossword puzzle with every clue a question.

He has secured rights to produce a comic strip based on the work of Peter Cheyney—a leading British writer of crime thrillers.

Some of the well-illustrated papers in Australia, carry 12 daily comics, and big Sunday color comic sections.

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