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Success in Comics: Chad Carpenter, Bill Kellogg

The first speakers in the Success in Comics Seminar were also the hosts: Chad Carpenter, creator of Tundra and Bill Kellogg who has sold the strip to over 500 newspapers. Chad first talked about getting into cartooning and how he made the strip a success as regional comic in Alaska and then Bill talked about how he took the strip nationally.Chad:

  • Inspired by Mike Peters advice to “draw what you know”
  • Drew up 36 strips to showed them to the editor at the Anchorage paper
  • Sold the strip to four other papers in Alaska
  • Decided to print his first book a year later. Used Garfield’s books as a model
  • The first book (3,000) print run sold out in three weeks. Reprinted 10,000 more
  • Sold the books at weekend markets, state fairs and Christmas shows. Sold a t-shirt, his book and his calendar
  • Was able to make $40-50k on merchandise
  • First six books were in black and white. Now all books are full color, printed in Korea.
  • Do It Yourself is the way to go for publishing books. Foreign printers allow for greater profit margins.

Bill:

  • Bill shared examples of information packets along with their initial meager one
  • Bill advocated anyone going into self-syndication get an FTP site. Most all newspapers pull their comics from FTP servers. Not having one will hurt sales efforts
  • There’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. Be persistent.
  • Try to meet editors personally. Too easy to say no over the phone
  • Sales cycles are long. Can take 1-2 years before a newspaper will pick you up because they first have to drop another beloved strip
  • Modify your pitch depending on paper. Norther papers are pitched a “Tundra is a northern strip” while southern papers are pitched, “it’s an outdoor and nature strip”
  • When pitching to editors, dress like it was an interview.
  • Self syndication killers: spelling errors and regional references
  • Social media is a way to builds fans. Fans buys your merchandise
  • Asked about how declining circulation will affect their business model: Newspapers will be around for a while, but you have think of them as only one of many revenue streams – not the only one

Visit Chad’s Facebook

Community Comments

#1 Mark Stokes
February/29/2012
@ 1:02 pm

Alan,
Thanks much for taking time to write this overview about Bill and Chad’s talks at Success in Comics. For those of us who did not attend, it is much appreciated!

#2 Patti Hart
February/29/2012
@ 2:58 pm

The seminar was jam packed with tons o’ great information for both up and comers in the industry AND we old timers! Thanks, Chad and Bill for a highly informative event! And the black jack and craps were phenomenal! How did you guys do that??

#3 Scott Lincoln
February/29/2012
@ 3:46 pm

It was a great seminar filled with so much useful information my brain is still twitching and the casual atmosphere seemed to foster camaraderie. I know that Chad and Bill are affecting the industry in a way that is profoundly positive and I can’t recommend their events highly enough.

#4 Doug Bratton
February/29/2012
@ 5:30 pm

I ditto that this was a great event, I posted my reasons under the Mark Parisi write up.

Bill and Chad gave some very practical, usable sales strategies, and brought together some other really knowledgable presenters.

Thumbs up!

#5 Rich Diesslin
March/3/2012
@ 1:45 pm

Ditto. All good stuff and nice summary Alan!

#6 Jose Villena
March/8/2012
@ 4:22 am

It was a very interesting seminar with useful information about cartoons world and great authors, speakers and people! I went to the seminar from Spain, really it was worth it.

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