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Justin Thompson becomes ‘Unfit’ artist

The final decision in the “Unfit” Idol competition has come to a close with Justin Thompson as the winner. Scott Adams posted the news on his blog. He lists six reasons why it was a good decision. I’ve posted reason number one below.

The decision was Mike?s alone, but I would have made the same choice. Allow me to explain why. First, I just flat out enjoy Justin?s art. It has what I call ?look back? appeal. After I finished reading Justin?s submission, I looked back at the art several times just to see how he did it.
For me, the only other ?look back? comic strip artists are Breathed (Bloom County), Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes), and now Darby Conley (Get Fuzzy).

To refresh you memory, here is a link to Justin’s submission, as well as other his feature on Comics Sherpa.

I also think more syndicates should hold more open competitions – ala American Idol style. It would be interesting.

Community Comments

#1 Rick Stromoski
February/15/2006
@ 11:39 pm

>>>I also think more syndicates should hold more open competitions – ala American Idol style. It would be interesting.

It’s not interesting… it’s unprofessional, it demeans the artform and it’s degrading to the participants.

Rick Stromoski
President
NCS

#2 Rick Stromoski
February/15/2006
@ 5:39 pm

>>>I also think more syndicates should hold more open competitions – ala American Idol style. It would be interesting.

It’s not interesting… it’s unprofessional, it demeans the artform and it’s degrading to the participants.

Rick Stromoski
President
NCS

#3 Rick Ellis
February/15/2006
@ 11:59 pm

Actually it would be interesting since it would showcase to the public the artistic and humorous talent that’s out there.

It wouldn’t degrade the artform, the syndicates have already taken care of that by running the same ancient strips year after year and picking stale new strips. There’s got to be better humor out there. No wonder newspaper readership is so low.

#4 Rick Ellis
February/15/2006
@ 5:59 pm

Actually it would be interesting since it would showcase to the public the artistic and humorous talent that’s out there.

It wouldn’t degrade the artform, the syndicates have already taken care of that by running the same ancient strips year after year and picking stale new strips. There’s got to be better humor out there. No wonder newspaper readership is so low.

#5 Alan
February/16/2006
@ 3:42 am

Rick,
I fail to see how it would demean the artform. Why couldn’t a syndicate open a competition – take in a hundred or so prospective features, whittle it down to 24 and then for six weeks, each cartoonist puts out 6 weeks of work. The public could vote on each which cartoonist is the best and at the end a syndicate contract is awarded to the winner.

What is demeaning about that set up? Isn’t that what syndicates do now – except the public isn’t involved – they call it a developmental contract. If they see a hint of gold they give you a couple of months to prove yourself and the feature. If they like the direction of the feature, you’re offered a contract, if not they say, “the market isn’t there for the feature,” or “we still think the idea is a bit rough” – or whatever.

If you can explain the demeaning part, I’d love to understand it. As I look at it. It’s just another way to break into the business.

Best,
Alan

#6 Alan
February/15/2006
@ 9:42 pm

Rick,
I fail to see how it would demean the artform. Why couldn’t a syndicate open a competition – take in a hundred or so prospective features, whittle it down to 24 and then for six weeks, each cartoonist puts out 6 weeks of work. The public could vote on each which cartoonist is the best and at the end a syndicate contract is awarded to the winner.

What is demeaning about that set up? Isn’t that what syndicates do now – except the public isn’t involved – they call it a developmental contract. If they see a hint of gold they give you a couple of months to prove yourself and the feature. If they like the direction of the feature, you’re offered a contract, if not they say, “the market isn’t there for the feature,” or “we still think the idea is a bit rough” – or whatever.

If you can explain the demeaning part, I’d love to understand it. As I look at it. It’s just another way to break into the business.

Best,
Alan

#7 Dann
February/16/2006
@ 12:41 pm

Now that it has a decent artist, when does the contest to find a good writer for ‘Unfit” begin???

#8 Dann
February/16/2006
@ 6:41 am

Now that it has a decent artist, when does the contest to find a good writer for ‘Unfit” begin???

#9 Rick Stromoski
February/16/2006
@ 1:14 pm

The comparison to American Idol speaks perfectly to this situation. A freak show cattle call for the amusement of an audience and free publicity for the organizers. No serious musician would touch Idol just as no illustrator with an ounce of professional integrity would touch this.

#10 Rick Stromoski
February/16/2006
@ 7:14 am

The comparison to American Idol speaks perfectly to this situation. A freak show cattle call for the amusement of an audience and free publicity for the organizers. No serious musician would touch Idol just as no illustrator with an ounce of professional integrity would touch this.

#11 Rick Ellis
February/16/2006
@ 1:37 pm

I agree with Alan. It wouldn’t be demeaning just because Rick Stromoski says it will be. People want to see well written/funny and humorous drawings. Older cartoonists wouldn’t like it because people may wake up and realize that there’s something better out there to replace the tired worn out strips or the mediocre recent strips.

Isn’t it just like Alan says “Isn?t that what syndicates do now – except the public isn?t involved”? Maybe the public should be more involved, since the individuals picking the strips that are running now don’t have a clue.

Of course the way it would have to be run is the cartoonist would have to do both the writing and the drawing. A bit different from The Adams’ Artist Search.

#12 Rick Ellis
February/16/2006
@ 7:37 am

I agree with Alan. It wouldn’t be demeaning just because Rick Stromoski says it will be. People want to see well written/funny and humorous drawings. Older cartoonists wouldn’t like it because people may wake up and realize that there’s something better out there to replace the tired worn out strips or the mediocre recent strips.

Isn’t it just like Alan says “Isn?t that what syndicates do now – except the public isn?t involved”? Maybe the public should be more involved, since the individuals picking the strips that are running now don’t have a clue.

Of course the way it would have to be run is the cartoonist would have to do both the writing and the drawing. A bit different from The Adams’ Artist Search.

#13 Alan
February/16/2006
@ 5:22 pm

I guess we’ll call this a “agree to disagree.”

American Idol is a talent contest to find fresh voices to be in the music industry and just about all the winners have gone on and become quite sucessful. Yes there is the element of freak show for the first couple of weeks, but then they get voted out and it gets serious and the real show begins.

I’m seeing this as an innovative way to find new talent. A while back there was a thread on Toon Talk about the cronyism factor in the syndication process (people who know people in the industry have better shots at getting a contract than the unknowns off the street). I think that element does exists and this is a way around that to find real talent.

#14 Alan
February/16/2006
@ 11:22 am

I guess we’ll call this a “agree to disagree.”

American Idol is a talent contest to find fresh voices to be in the music industry and just about all the winners have gone on and become quite sucessful. Yes there is the element of freak show for the first couple of weeks, but then they get voted out and it gets serious and the real show begins.

I’m seeing this as an innovative way to find new talent. A while back there was a thread on Toon Talk about the cronyism factor in the syndication process (people who know people in the industry have better shots at getting a contract than the unknowns off the street). I think that element does exists and this is a way around that to find real talent.

#15 Chippy Me Word
February/16/2006
@ 5:50 pm

Demeans the art form?

All you have to do is look at any major cities comics page and you’ll see a minimum of 10 strips that are taking up spots and cashing checks that should be for younger and fresher properties. That demeans the art form far more than any contest.

#16 Chippy Me Word
February/16/2006
@ 11:50 am

Demeans the art form?

All you have to do is look at any major cities comics page and you’ll see a minimum of 10 strips that are taking up spots and cashing checks that should be for younger and fresher properties. That demeans the art form far more than any contest.

#17 Rick Ellis
February/16/2006
@ 6:41 pm

Looking at any major cities comics page is analogous to only getting two channels on you tv; TV Land and PBS. One’s old and the other too PC.

#18 Rick Ellis
February/16/2006
@ 12:41 pm

Looking at any major cities comics page is analogous to only getting two channels on you tv; TV Land and PBS. One’s old and the other too PC.

#19 Robert
April/17/2006
@ 3:49 pm

I’ve heard now that Mike Belkin has decided not to have Justin draw his cartoon but to continue doing the artwork himself.

#20 Robert
April/17/2006
@ 9:49 am

I’ve heard now that Mike Belkin has decided not to have Justin draw his cartoon but to continue doing the artwork himself.

#21 Brian Dunaway
May/8/2006
@ 1:46 pm

There already has been an American Idol for comics. King Features used to run a comic that featured new artists every week I believe. I don’t think they do it anymore.

But that was much better way of showcasing an artists work.

#22 Brian Dunaway
May/8/2006
@ 7:46 am

There already has been an American Idol for comics. King Features used to run a comic that featured new artists every week I believe. I don’t think they do it anymore.

But that was much better way of showcasing an artists work.

#23 Norman Feuti
May/8/2006
@ 11:14 pm

It was actually Tribune Media Services that used to run a website called Comics Edge. Each month they would run 4 or 5 of their strongest submissions and have viewers vote on them.

#24 Norman Feuti
May/8/2006
@ 5:14 pm

It was actually Tribune Media Services that used to run a website called Comics Edge. Each month they would run 4 or 5 of their strongest submissions and have viewers vote on them.

#25 Alan
May/9/2006
@ 1:18 am

King Features’ feature for undiscovered talent was called the New Breed (mostly sure on that). I’m not sure when it was discontinued or if any cartoonists started in that line up were eventually picked up.

#26 Alan
May/8/2006
@ 7:18 pm

King Features’ feature for undiscovered talent was called the New Breed (mostly sure on that). I’m not sure when it was discontinued or if any cartoonists started in that line up were eventually picked up.

#27 D.D.Degg
May/10/2006
@ 2:51 am

King Features’ “The New Breed” ended March 1, 2003
according to my notes; it started in 1991(?).

Some cartoonists who appeared there were Kieran
Meehan (Meehan Streak, A Lawyer, A Doctor, & A
Cop), Todd Clark (Lola, gagwriter for misc.),
and Margaret Shulock (Six Chix, Snuffy Smith
co-writer, Apartment 3-G writer), and, I’m sure,
many other well-known and not-so-well-known
(but talented) cartoonists if not debuted at
least appeared there.

#28 D.D.Degg
May/9/2006
@ 8:51 pm

King Features’ “The New Breed” ended March 1, 2003
according to my notes; it started in 1991(?).

Some cartoonists who appeared there were Kieran
Meehan (Meehan Streak, A Lawyer, A Doctor, & A
Cop), Todd Clark (Lola, gagwriter for misc.),
and Margaret Shulock (Six Chix, Snuffy Smith
co-writer, Apartment 3-G writer), and, I’m sure,
many other well-known and not-so-well-known
(but talented) cartoonists if not debuted at
least appeared there.

#29 Rick
May/10/2006
@ 1:21 pm

I was featured in it back when I was working on a strip called Stitches. I think I was in one of the last ones King published.

#30 Rick
May/10/2006
@ 7:21 am

I was featured in it back when I was working on a strip called Stitches. I think I was in one of the last ones King published.

#31 I.B. Nelson
May/5/2009
@ 10:26 am

About the New Breed comic:

I was one of the original group of artists chosen by Jay Kennedy to inaugurate the strip in 1989 and drew for the feature until it officially closed in 2003, February 23rd. An announcement of sorts was published at:
http://www.allbusiness.com/services/business-services-miscellaneous-business/4695028-1.html

I have compiled a very incomplete list of contributors (with their websites) along with my own panels on my website at: http://ibnelson.com/NewBreed/newbreed2.html

My New Breed page also includes a link to an obituary for Jay Kennedy, Founder and Editor of the New Breed, who died in 2007 in a swimming accident while on vacation in the Caribbean. Jay was very inspirational to a lot of people, jump-starting many careers AND features.

The strip was closed without notification to the artists as far as I know: I actually had a batch of ten ready to mail when I discovered the strip had been cancelled. I miss it a lot: it was a great ride. Yes, it WAS a bit like being on Idol…you were in a constant competition against all other contributors, no matter how long you had a part of the feature.

#32 I.B. Nelson
May/5/2009
@ 4:26 am

About the New Breed comic:

I was one of the original group of artists chosen by Jay Kennedy to inaugurate the strip in 1989 and drew for the feature until it officially closed in 2003, February 23rd. An announcement of sorts was published at:
http://www.allbusiness.com/services/business-services-miscellaneous-business/4695028-1.html

I have compiled a very incomplete list of contributors (with their websites) along with my own panels on my website at: http://ibnelson.com/NewBreed/newbreed2.html

My New Breed page also includes a link to an obituary for Jay Kennedy, Founder and Editor of the New Breed, who died in 2007 in a swimming accident while on vacation in the Caribbean. Jay was very inspirational to a lot of people, jump-starting many careers AND features.

The strip was closed without notification to the artists as far as I know: I actually had a batch of ten ready to mail when I discovered the strip had been cancelled. I miss it a lot: it was a great ride. Yes, it WAS a bit like being on Idol…you were in a constant competition against all other contributors, no matter how long you had a part of the feature.

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