Also published on this date: Shelf Awareness for Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday, February 10, 2020: Dedicated Issue: Andrews McMeel

Andrews McMeel: Andrews McMeel 50th Anniversary

Editors' Note

Happy 50th Birthday, Andrews McMeel!

With the support of the publisher, Shelf Awareness celebrates the 50th anniversary of Andrews McMeel Universal. The company has a heritage of cutting-edge publishing that encompasses a range of platforms and categories from comics to gift books to kids to poetry, all united by their strong voices, original perspectives and humor.

Andrews McMeel: 50th Anniversary, Premier Independent Calendar Publisher

Books & Authors

Andrews McMeel: A Focus on Talent, Partnerships, Humor, Original Voices

Kirsty Melville

During Andrews McMeel's 50 years, there are several constants that help explain the company's success. For one, the company has always focused on "identifying talent, nurturing talent, and then launching it into the world," as president and publisher Kirsty Melville says, a principle encapsulated in the company's slogan of "talent, recognized."

Perhaps the best example of this approach is Garry Trudeau, "our very first author and creator," Melville says. In 1968, Andrews McMeel co-founder Jim Andrews discovered Trudeau's strip Bull Tales in the Yale Daily News and, after working with him to develop the strip, Doonesbury premiered in 28 newspapers across the country in 1970. The widely read strip continues on Sundays and has resulted in a series of bestselling books over the years. (See below for more information about the next one, Lewser: More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump, appearing July 7. The company will also offer a special 50th anniversary edition of Doonesbury packaged with a jump drive of his complete comic strip collection.)

Garry Trudeau

Trudeau is an example, too, of another Andrews McMeel principle: many of the company's authors are distinguished, Melville says, by their "strong opinions and points of view." Most of the time, they are mixed with humor, which Melville calls "our backbone. Everything we do has a spark of humor just beneath the surface."

In its early years, the publishing division of Andrews McMeel Universal went on to publish many beloved comics authors, most famously Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin and Hobbes, and Gary Larson, creator of The Far Side®. Both strips were wildly popular during their runs and continue to inspire and entertain readers in bestselling collections. A more recent comic addition to publishing is Lincoln Peirce, creator of the Big Nate series. Big Nate had been in syndication for over 20 years before finding success in the children's category.

"Over the past decade, we've become really strong in children's comics," Melville comments, which consists of board books, illustrated readers and series that share content that "kids relate to today." This has included a partnership with Epic! called Epic! Originals, a line of books created with the digital library for kids that reaches millions of teachers and schoolchildren.

Lincoln Peirce

In recent years, the company has also focused on online cartoonists, including Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, and Sarah Andersen, creator of Sarah's Scribbles. Their works "address the issues of our day with humor," Melville says. Humor-driven web comics are a favorite of younger fans, as exemplified by Dana Simpson, creator of Phoebe and Her Unicorn. Andrews McMeel also recently launched a new website, which can be seen here.

Over time, the company expanded into other categories, of course, adding, for example, The Best of Dear Abby by Abigail van Buren, creator of the daily newspaper "Dear Abby" advice columns; the Magic Eye series by Cheri Smith that focuses on 3D images; and The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive ("the book that transformed the gift book category," Melville notes). It has a strong selection of cookbooks, too.

Strikingly, in less than a decade poetry has become a major category at Andrews McMeel. The company accounts for 40% of poetry sales in the U.S. and is "dominant in many other countries," Melville says. Much of this growth in poetry is attributable to the titles it has published by Rupi Kaur--milk and honey in 2015 and the sun and her flowers in 2017--which have sold seven million copies and been translated into over 40 languages. Melville calls Rupi "a talented writer, poet and artist with a distinctive point of view, a creative voice challenging orthodoxy. We have nurtured and supported her as she has shared her work globally."

Rupi Kaur

Publishing Rupi has opened many doors in poetry for Andrews McMeel, which now publishes a range of poets from around the world, many of them also bestsellers. (See more on upcoming poetry books below.) "We publish leading poets who people relate to," Melville observes. They represent the diverse voices of today, including people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, as well as writers of different faiths and backgrounds. "We're trying to publish for a global, multi-faceted world and poetry does that best, particularly in difficult times," Melville adds.

Partnership is another key principle at Andrews McMeel. Partnership starts with the company's authors. "We work closely with our authors and give them a lot of creative control and participation in the process," Melville says.

That partnership extends to publishing authors on a variety of platforms. "From the beginning, we were not a traditional company but saw the opportunity for launching our authors and creators across many platforms," Melville says. While the overall Andrews McMeel Universal company started with newspaper syndication, the Andrews McMeel Publishing division quickly came to include calendars, one of the company's major divisions. The company publishes 200 a year, primarily wall calendars, day-to-day calendars, and planners, in a wide variety of subjects, including humor, art, food & drink, pop culture, sports, inspiration, science & nature, and travel. Many are licensed, such as the Disney calendar from the Thomas Kinkade Studios, the Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune calendars, the Mary Engelbreit calendar program, the Dilbert boxed calendar or the recent success, We Rate Dogs.

Dana Simpson

Andrews McMeel also publishes greeting cards, puzzles, games, and does licensing. As a result, "we're the place where authors build their brands," Melville says. "We look for authors who want to foster a long-term relationship with us."

An important partner for Andrews McMeel since the beginning have been independent booksellers. "We have longstanding partnerships with indie bookstores," Melville says. Indies are "a huge part of our success because they have supported our publishing, share our passion for original voices and hand-sell our books. We have enjoyed creating many successful events with booksellers across the country."

Another important partner for Andrews McMeel is Simon & Schuster, which began by providing fulfillment and now handles sales and distribution for the company around the world.

John McMeel and Hugh Andrews

Still, the core of Andrews McMeel's operations--publishing, marketing and creative--is done at the company's headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. While far from the center of U.S. publishing, that location has worked to Andrews McMeel's advantage. "Not being in New York makes us nimble," Melville says. "We have to work harder and focus on what we do best, which is be a publisher of humorous and inspiring stories and voices in the form of comics, poetry and more. We try to make universal connections through everything we do."

Andrews McMeel's All-Time Bestsellers

The following are Andrews McMeel's top bestsellers in its 50 years, in chronological order:

The Best of Dear Abby
by Abigail Van Buren. This collection from the nationally syndicated newspaper advice columnist was published in hardcover in 1981 and in paperback in 1989. It became the company's first New York Times bestseller.

The Magic Eye: A New Way of Looking at the World by Cheri Smith. Published in 1993, this book of 3D illustrations ignited a pop culture sensation with books, calendars, and syndicated features in newspapers. Magic Eye I, II, and III appeared on the New York Times bestsellers list for a combined 73 weeks, and more than 20 million copies of Magic Eye books have been sold in more than 25 languages.

The Blue Day Book: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up by Bradley Trevor Greive. Originally published in 2000, the book's charming animal photographs and its humorous, compassionate message buoyed spirits in the aftermath of 9/11 and went on to sell more than 13 million copies.

The Complete Far Side by Gary Larson, published in hardcover in 2003 and paperback in 2014. This is the heaviest and most expensive New York Times bestseller, with nearly a million copies sold. Interest in The Far Side has surged recently again with the December 2019 launch of, bringing the iconic panel online for the first time.

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, published in hardcover in 2005 and paperback in 2012. Calvin and Hobbes are unquestionably one of the most popular and beloved comic duos of all time, and this New York Times bestselling collection continues to be a fan favorite, with more than one million copies sold.

Big Nate: From the Top by Lincoln Peirce. Andrews McMeel's first Big Nate comic collection launched the New York Times bestselling series that have sold more than six million copies since their introduction in 2010 and have become a cornerstone of the company's kids' program. The 22nd Big Nate Collection, Big Nate: Blow the Roof Off!, will be released March 3, 2020.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal). Published in 2012, this was an early web comic collection and has sold more than one million copies.

milk and honey, published in 2015, and the sun and her flowers, published in 2017, by Rupi Kaur are both #1 New York Times bestsellers. Rupi's transcendent books of poetry have transformed the poetry category across the globe and have sold more than 7.5 million copies and been translated into 40 languages. The New Republic recently named Rupi the "Writer of the Decade."

Top calendars:

Andrews McMeel publishes some 200 calendars annually in a variety of formats. Among its bestsellers over the years are Thomas Kinkade, Mary Engelbreit, Dilbert, Jeopardy, Johanna Basford, all in multiple formats, as well as The Far Side® Wall Calendar. The all-time most popular calendar is The Far Side® Off-the-Wall Calendar, the world's bestselling calendar for nearly two decades (with nearly 50 million copies sold).

Upcoming 2020 Titles: A Selection

The following are major titles from Andrews McMeel appearing this year:


break your glass slippers (you are your own fairy tale) by Amanda Lovelace. The bestselling and award-winning author of the "women are some kind of magic" poetry series presents a new companion series, "you are your own fairy tale." The first installment, break your glass slippers, is about overcoming those who don't see your worth, even if that person is sometimes yourself. (March 17.)

Dear Girl by Aija Mayrock. Celebrated activist and spoken-word performer Aija Mayrock presents her debut poetry collection that takes readers on an empowering, lyrical journey through being a woman in today's society, exploring issues like suicide, sexual assault, self-image, and healing. (April 7.)

Prince Neptune: Poetry and Prose by Cody Simpson. Los Angeles-based Australian writer, singer, songwriter Cody Simpson is thrilled to share his first book with the world. It's Jack Kerouac meets Arthur Rimbaud for the millennial generation. (April 7.)

She's Strong But She's Tired by r.h. sin. A poetic documentation of pain, loneliness, courage, and triumph by the New York Times bestselling author. (September 22.)


#VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl's Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini by Nicole Byer. The actress, comedian, and podcaster extraordinaire's guide to being a #brave, bikini-wearing badass. (May 19.)

How to Vegan: An Illustrated Guide by Steven Wildish. A brilliant, incisively funny guide on how to eat vegan and how to talk vegan written by a vegan who is also an infographic genius. Walking the line perfectly between tongue-in-cheek without being offensive to either vegans or meat-eaters, Wildish provides helpful and humorous infographs for being, shopping, and eating vegan. (September 15.)

Illustrated Humor:

Snug: A Collection of Comics about Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd. From the author of the bestselling Little Moments of Love, Snug perfectly captures the honest, playful, and relatable snapshots of romantic life. (February 4.)

I Left the House Today: Comics by Cassandra Calin by Cassandra Calin. Hilarious and relatable comics about one young woman's life, relationships, and day-to-day humorous musings on why it's good to leave the house sometimes--and when it's better to stay home. (June 2.)

Fangs by Sarah Andersen. A new gothic romance series from award-winning Sarah's Scribbles creator Sarah Andersen (author of Adulthood Is a Myth, Big Mushy Happy Lump, Herding Cats). Fangs has quickly become one of the most popular comics on Tapas (and Sarah has an online platform of more than five million). (September 1.)


Big Nate: Blow the Roof Off! by Lincoln Peirce. This latest in the Big Nate series takes readers on a hilarious, romantic, rock-and-roll adventure. (March 3.)

Camping with Unicorns: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure (Volume 11) by Dana Simpson. The latest installment in this bestselling series is full of mischief, magic and adventure--as well as an important reminder to always stay true to yourself. (April 7.)

Also, AMP will introduce up to 20 new titles from its latest initiative in children's publishing, Epic! Originals, featuring an exclusive new line of books created in conjunction with Epic!, the world's leading digital library for kids.


This year is the 50th anniversary of the debut in syndication of Doonesbury by Pulitzer Prize-winning Garry Trudeau on October 26, 1970. Lewser: More Doonesbury in the Time of Trump, appearing July 7, is a mirthful and merciless skewering of the Trump administration that will include two years of original Doonesbury Sunday, full-color spreads, and 18 previously unpublished strips. The book will complete Trudeau's Trump trilogy, and arrives just as the 2020 election is in full swing. Yuge!: 30 Years of Doonesbury on Trump and Sad: Doonesbury in the Time of Trump were his previous bestselling Trump collections.

Andrews McMeel: 50th Anniversary Giveaway

Andrews McMeel: 50th Anniversary, Bold New Voices

Andrews McMeel: 50th Anniversary, Iconic Brands & Creators

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