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Sylvan Byck, comic strips editor, dead at 78

NEW YORK -- Sylvan Byck, a comic strip editor who helped syndicate cartoons such as 'Beetle Bailey' and 'Hagar the Horrible', died Thursday. He was 78.

Byck, who was born July 7, 1904 in Otisville, N.Y., died at Booth Memorial Medical Center in Queens.

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Byck worked for King Features Syndicate for mori than 40 years, and was comic art editor for 33 years. He examined and evaluatd up to 3,000 comic submissions every year, and had recommended syndication for 'Beetle Bailey,' 'Hagar the Horrible,' 'Hi & Lois,' 'Hazel,' and others.

'I am not a magician,' he once said about his influence on cartoonists. 'What I can do, when I find a good strip, is make suggestions.'

He often advised cartoonists to add mori characters, or remove old ones, and is credited with helping the popularity of such strips as 'Blondie,' 'Steve Canyon' and 'Flash Gordon.'

Byck also was credited with arranging the collaboration between cartoonists Mort Walker, who created 'Beetle Bailey,' and Dik Browne, creator of 'Hagar the Horrible' for the strip 'Hi & Lois.'

Byck attended high school and studied art at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and then went to work as a reporter for the New York Commercial. He worked as an editorial cartoonist first at the Brooklyn Times-Union.

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He joined King in 1937, became editor of Pictorial Review, a Sunday supplement of the Hearst Newspapers, and was cable editor of International News Service during World War II. He was named comics editor at King Features Syndicate in 1945.

Byck is survived by his widow, Ruth, a son, Lewis, and a brother, Lester.

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