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What the Duck coming to a newspaper near you

What the Duck

Aaron Johnson, creator of the What the Duck web comics and the syndication bingo game (see announcement, update, progress report), tells me that it’s official – he’s signed a development contract with Universal Press Syndicate that guarantees a 2009 launch (at the latest). The paper has expressed interest in changing the feature’s name before it’s offered to papers, but that Aaron has retained the right to use the original name for online and personal use.

What the Duck is centered around a struggling professional photographer (who happens to be a duck). According to an article at, the comic was originally just filler content for Aaron’s band’s blog, but quickly became a cult favorite for photographers and hobbyists. Since then Aaron has been able to parlay its popularity into some merchandising.

Aaron’s Syndication Bingo game was a way for him and fans to progress toward syndication as well as track the kind of rejection letters he’d get from syndicates. That page on his web site is no longer available, but here is his original bingo card:

WTD bingo game

Best of luck Aaron. WTD is a fun strip.

Community Comments

#1 Charles Brubaker
@ 7:26 am

Amazing that this all happened because of an experiment. There’s a lesson here somewhere.

Good luck to Aaron. Curious what the new title will be.

#2 Norm Feuti
@ 8:26 am

I was impressed with WTD when I first heard about it. I know nothing about photography (professional or otherwise) but I found the samples on his website funny and accessible nonetheless.

Good luck to him.

#3 Rick Ellis
@ 8:37 am

Congratulations Aaron! What the Duck is a funny strip and hopefully will be around in the papers for a long time.

#4 Chris H.
@ 5:37 pm

Yes, “What the Duck” is very good; the strip on this post is great. “What the Duck” certainly could make it in papers, although I know that he’ll have to change the title. No paper would buy a strip that rhymes with what this one does, and actually in my opinion that might also be what turned away some of the syndicates.

Nonetheless, I thought Mr. Johnson’s Syndicate Bingo was fun to follow back when he was still submitting, and I see that the reworked version that they suggested turned out just as well as the original version. Syndicate Bingo was especially cool because it was an inside look at the process of submitting to the syndicates, and it usually isn’t until one does that that you learn what it’s like. Syndicate Bingo, not to mention Scott Nickel’s equally entertaining rip-off, Syndicate Roulette, were fun to read and valuable to aspiring cartoonists. Thanks to both of you, and no offense to you, Scott.

Too bad WTD doesn’t launch until 2009, though…since a comic like this has been on the internet for so long, you forget that what the cartoonist has received is in fact a development contract to launch the strip a few years later, after a development stage — not to jump straight into newspapers.

#5 JeffM
@ 8:04 pm

It’s about darn time!!

I have WTD bookmarked and checked in every single day. WTD is witty, and attractively drawn.

I guess this is proof just how hard it is to get syndicated. 2009? Good grief……to me WTD is already a successful strip..

#6 Garey Mckee
@ 8:23 pm

I like the title. People sure are touchy LOL!

If Aaron has to change the title here’s a list of possibilities I’d like to see.

Duck You

Duck Stain

Ducking Nuts

Ducking A’

The list goes on. You get the picture :D

#7 Eric Burke
@ 8:36 pm

I think WTD has been one of the funniest toons- webcomic or syndicated – that I’ve read in some time. I’ve loved it since Aaron’s first visit on ToonTalk about a year or so ago. Fun art and sharp-to-the-point writing.

Hope he can keep the name, though.WTD has the look of a very, very, marketable and merchandisable strip.

I smell cashcow…

#8 Jason Slater
@ 11:13 am

Great going Aaron, I’ve been a fan of WTD for a long time and it’s been a real inspiration to me. This great news gives a great deal of hope and inspiration to us who are just starting out !


#9 Lucas Turnbloom
@ 3:15 pm

Congrats Aaron! That’s fantastic news. …And good luck.
Also, when the time comes to change the title, might I suggest:
“Duck Off”

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