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Interviewed: Stephan Pastis on Pearls, industry

Michael Cavna talks to Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis regarding his strip’s success and the state of comic strips.

Stephan:

?We need more cartoonists to truly retire when they retire, and not run repeats,“ continues Pastis, bemoaning the state of the industry. ”Repeats are the absolute soul-crushing killers of the comics page."

Community Comments

#1 Steve Skelton
October/5/2012
@ 10:51 am

Is there really still a market for new newspaper comic strips? Seems to me the window that Stephan talked about closing is closed by now….

#2 david essman
October/5/2012
@ 11:49 am

?Repeats are the absolute soul-crushing killers of the comics page.”

Well said!

If only newspaper editors would brave the angry letters of readers demanding their Peanuts reruns to free up the space for new cartoonists.

#3 Fran Deppen
October/5/2012
@ 1:32 pm

It’s understandable that the loudest cry to stop running repeat cartoons comes from cartoonists who want their turn at the shrinking comics page. Unfortunately, it seems that most readers are content and don’t want their favorite “classics” taken away. How do you impose a change to this?

#4 RYAN BROWN
October/5/2012
@ 3:35 pm

I think since newspapers are dying anyway, they should eliminate all repeats and give those precious slots to some newer cartoonists so that they can at least enjoy being syndicated before the newspaper industry inevitably falls off the cliff anyway.

#5 Naus
October/5/2012
@ 6:39 pm

Repeats should definatly never happen, once your done, so should your comic.
the comic strip industry also needs it’s sensorship raised up to the 21st century. there’s wose things in the actual paper that the strips are in.
but yes, it is probably to late for the newspapers. but possible not the next frontier what ever that may be.

#6 Steve Skelton
October/5/2012
@ 7:29 pm

That is my question, I suppose.

If you were starting out as a cartoonist today, would you be better off working on strip concepts for newspaper syndication, or would you be better off just starting a web comic? Albeit both routes are riddled with challenges, but what route is right for the budding cartoonist who has drawing and writing abilities?

#7 Donald Rex Jr.
October/6/2012
@ 12:00 am

The point of reprints is to decrease expense. Cartooning has always been a cutthroat business, so drastic reductions in newspapers and their income will mean cartoonists will have to be creative marketers of their work as virtually all other fields of art have become. Apparently one must give it away free in some manner, attract an audience, then sell the audience by the click.

#8 Marc Davidson
October/6/2012
@ 12:30 am

Pastis is as overhyped as Honey Boo Boo.

#9 Mike Peterson
October/6/2012
@ 4:14 am

#7 — Repeats cost the same as original works.

The benefit to the syndicate is that the money continues to come in. The benefit to the newspaper is that fans of the strip don’t complain when it stops showing up in the paper.

However, my experience is that readers will accept the fact that a cartoonist has retired or died or chosen to stop producing new work. They get angry when an editor simply decides that a strip is tired and a new one would be an improvement.

But editors make people angry with that kind of decision all the time — the good ones realize that they’ve probably pleased most readers (and heard nothing back) and only annoyed a small number who complain.

Good editors being in as short supply as fresh slots on the comics page these days.

#10 Donald Rex Jr.
October/6/2012
@ 7:52 pm

I mean’t the cartoonist’s expense. Sorry if I was not clear.

#11 Tom Racine
October/8/2012
@ 11:17 am

I suspect most of it has to do with money. (I know…”duh.”) But something like Peanuts still brings in a huge amount of money for the syndicate and the papers love it and would get killed for ending it…so they’re not going to free up that space for new, untested stuff.

As for syndication, if I was starting a new strip, I’d just treat syndication as another avenue. It used to be THE avenue…the only one. But why not take 30 of your strips and send them off? See what happens. But at the same time, develop your website, promote your own stuff, find your own niche and market. If your stuff has a “newspaper sensibility” to it and fits that audience, there’s no harm in sending it off. Even in the high flyin’ days of the 1980s, you still only had a 1 in 8,000 chance of getting into papers at best…at least today, we have a lot more options to get our work seen.

#12 Mike Lester
October/8/2012
@ 11:51 am

“But why not take 30 of your strips and send them off?”

Where? To camp? Exactly where should a cartoonist send these strips “off” to? And while admittedly new to the game, I’m pretty sure any sending “off” of content would be viewed negatively by a hard working synd. sales staff (assuming syndication).

But, like I said, I’m new to this and all ears.

#13 Tom Racine
October/8/2012
@ 12:35 pm

I meant “send them off to the syndicates.” Not many left, but I’d still send them to Universal, King, etc….to see if I could get syndicated in papers. I’m just saying that it’s not the only goal for an aspiring cartoonist like in the old days. You should definitely be trying your own routes, maybe even formatting your stuff to fit the iPad screen, etc. Syndication would still be a huge feather in my cap, but it’s probably not to some 20 year old starting off. But I’d still advise them to give it a shot.

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