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Record number of features launched this year

If you’ve been counting, there are now seven features that have launched or scheduled to launch this year. That’s a giant leap from the three that launched in 2009. King Features and Creators are releasing features on a near six month cycle this year with Washington Post Writers Group, United Media and Universal Uclick each releasing just one so far. Based on the launch dates so far, it would be doubtful that any others will be released this year.

At least two features are

Here are the features:

Dustin, Steve Kelley, Jeff Parker – King Features (January 4)
Diamond Lil, Brett Koth – Creators (March 1)
Barney & Clyde, Gene Weingarten, Dan Weingarten, David Clark – Washington Post Writers Group (June 7)
Oh, Brother!, Bob Weber Jr., Jay Stephens – King Features (June 28)
Freshly Squeezed, Ed Stein – United Media (September 20)
Thatababy Paul Trap – Universal Uclick (October 4)
Dogs of C-Kennel, Mick and Mason Mastroianni – Creators (October 4)

Any feature launched prior to October 4 is genuinely being launched without consideration of Cathy Guisewite’s retirement.
Universal Uclick tells me that because they syndicate Cathy, they had the insiders advantage to know when to launch a replacement.

Community Comments

#1 Tony Piro
September/20/2010
@ 10:48 am

I’m just an outside observer, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

Maybe this shows that in the current climate syndicates are feeling pushed to take risks and launch more comic strips. Also, these days they might not have a good sense of what will become popular, especially when it comes to gaining an online audience. So their best strategy is to just throw a bunch of stuff against the wall and see what sticks.

Either way, it’s fun to see this happening!

#2 Scott Kurtz
September/20/2010
@ 11:21 am

I really like Oh, Brother!

#3 Darryl Heine
September/20/2010
@ 1:40 pm

Annie is gone, Raising Hector is gone, Cathy and My Cage are to be gone as of October.

#4 John Sanford
September/20/2010
@ 3:43 pm

Oh Brother! Is great!!!
Annie is gone? Cathy is gone? Waaah.
Good. They leave an opening for good NEW comics!

#5 David Jones
September/20/2010
@ 3:50 pm

I think times are changing to and people are wanting something fresh. It is a great day to be a struggling cartoonist! It is great that the syndicates are taking note of us new artists.

#6 Daniel Boris
September/20/2010
@ 5:46 pm

This is very good news! Newspaper comics pages need to get LARGER, not smaller. More new strips, not less.
Yeah, man!

#7 Charles Brubaker
September/20/2010
@ 8:59 pm

Hmmm, maybe this would increase my chance with my comic strip submission.

#8 Zachary Snyder
September/20/2010
@ 9:02 pm

This is great news!
But newspapers shouldn’t just be looking for strips to replace Cathy, they should be trying to expand their comic pages as well!

I know that is unlikely, but a struggling cartoonist can dream…. :D

#9 Jeff Stanson
September/21/2010
@ 8:21 am

Holding out hope for the three yet to begin, but I’d rather read ANY legacy comic than continue reading any of the new comics launched already this year. And I DID give them a chance.

#10 Dan Thompson
September/21/2010
@ 8:38 am

Being part of the 3 who launched in 2009 I can tell you it was rough. Now, Rip Haywire is adding papers, but what a rough year that was…Today, Rip is actually replacing “Cathy” in papers!

#11 Ryan Sohmer
September/21/2010
@ 9:42 am

Is 7 new features in a year really worth celebrating? 7 new features out of how many submissions?

The fact that 7 new features is a ‘record number’ should be a sobering thought.

#12 Steve Skelton
September/21/2010
@ 9:51 am

Rather than a full out launch, I prefer to launch my comic a little tiny bit each day. More like a scamper.

#13 Scott Nickel
September/21/2010
@ 10:15 am

2008 and 2009 were really bad years for new launches. Before the implosion, the syndicates regularly launched at least 2 (and in King’s case) 4 strips per year.

7 new strips this year is hardly a record; it’s more like a return to pre-“Great Recession” numbers.

Does this mean the newspaper market has stabilized?

#14 Scott Nickel
September/21/2010
@ 10:16 am

As for my own strip, I’m waiting till I get 30 years ahead so I can launch it and then retire.

#15 Frank White
September/22/2010
@ 8:54 am

Nobody has to be afraid of “dinosaur strips” if their work is good enough. Bill Watterson did not have to worry about them as his strip probably caused a few of their cancellations and his strip probabaly replaced them.

#16 Dan Thompson
September/22/2010
@ 9:40 am

“Nobody has to be afraid of ?dinosaur strips? if their work is good enough.”
It just doesn’t work that way in comics? if the newspaper editor can’t get a new strip in their papers because they will catch heck from their readers? nobody will ever get a chance to find out if you’re good or not.

#17 frank white
September/22/2010
@ 11:04 am

Dan, how did Bill Watterson make it into newspapers then?

#18 Bob Weber Jr.
September/22/2010
@ 11:15 am

Frank. you are right to a degree, but Dan makes an excellent point. As we all know, the newspaper industry is not where it was 20 years ago. Compared to today, the 1980s were robust times for newspaper comics. Editors were more inclined to take chances on new features, daily and Sunday comic sections were larger in many markets. Editors were still interested in attracting young readers. Today, many editors have given up on attracting younger readers and are desperately trying to hold on to their aging readership. So it really is tougher than ever to replace an old strip. As great as it is, Calvin and Hobbes may not have had the meteoric rise it enjoyed if it launched in today’s market. I think the wonderful Cul de Sac strip deserves to be in 1000+ papers, and maybe it will be, but most likely won’t. Hope I’m wrong Richard!
Dan, I really wish you luck. Brewster Rockit has become one of my favorite strips!

#19 Bob Weber Jr.
September/22/2010
@ 11:19 am

Sorry Dan, I meant Rip Haywire!! I like Brewster Rockit too!

#20 Dan Thompson
September/22/2010
@ 11:26 am

“Brewster Rockit has become one of my favorite strips!”
Also, Frank, another problem cartoonists face with a new strip is when other cartoonists call their new strip Rip Haywire …Brewster Rockit. ;)

#21 Torsten Adair
September/23/2010
@ 8:24 am

Years ago, newspapers had two editions (and sometimes two different papers, like Des Moines). Each edition had two different comics pages, and the syndicates charged by how each paper circulated.

In Omaha, the morning edition of the World-Herald shared only one strip with the evening edition: Steve Canyon. The evening edition (which my family got) had more conservative, all-ages strips, while the morning edition (commuters and retirees) had the newer strips. Calvin & Hobbes started in the morning edition, then moved to the evening edition once it became popular. I don’t think the Far Side ever left the morning edition…it was too “alternative”. (This paper runs Doonesbury on the editorial page.)

Thus feature editors could move strips with more ease, especially if it was a gag-a-day strip with no legacy. Now with one paper in most markets, and with the comics page being ad-free (Why? Dunno.) papers are more careful what they run on a tight budget.

Now? Each syndicate has its own website where readers can read the strip. Using geolocation, a syndicate can survey visitors, what they read, and then suggest a strip to a local paper. Revenue from the website is just another source of income for the cartoonist and syndicate, and like other free webcomics, helps sell the other merchandise associated with the strip. It’s the ebook model, except it never leaves the web, and it’s free. I think THIS is what is encouraging syndicates to launch more strips. Perhaps we’ll eventually see a new strip launched each month…

#22 Tony Piro
September/23/2010
@ 11:29 am

Torsten, that brings up an interesting question. As the syndicates launch a larger number of strips, will they be investing the same amount into publicizing these strips with the newspapers? Or are they hoping that by launching more strips, a few will find a viral audience on the web, which they can they can then subsequently invest in more heavily?

Actually, it’s never been quite clear to me what the syndicates strategy is for advertising on the web. Do they invest in viral marketing campaigns? Targeted advertising? Do they ignore the web and let it run its course? Perhap they do something else that I’m not even aware of?

#23 David T.
September/23/2010
@ 5:54 pm

Diamond Lil is one of the best strips to come out in a long time! Brett Koth is a genius.

#24 Frank White
September/24/2010
@ 4:36 am

@ Bob Weber ” Calvin and Hobbes may not have had the meteoric rise it enjoyed if it launched in today?s market”

On the other hand Bob , how would a lot of today’s new features fare against dinosaur strips if they were launched say 30 years ago?

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