Moustache to star in cartoon series

The moustache of John Oates (of Hall & Oates fame) will star in an animated series.

Billboard reports that ‘J-Stache’ follows the adventures of Hall & Oates star John Oates, who is coaxed out of his family man life and back into the music world by… his moustache (voiced by comedian Dave Attell).
Speaking to Billboard, Oates said: “In a cartoon setting, the moustache has its own personality. Just as I’m represented as the John Oates of today, the moustache is the John Oates of yesterday.”

156 thoughts on “Moustache to star in cartoon series

  1. This sounds a lot like a BIG RIP OFF of a comic that used a talking mustache on from a coupla years ago.

    “The Hovering Mustache of Lee Strasburg” in NAVY BEAN comics on

    One of my favorite characters in one of my favorite strips.

    Let’s see what else they can steal.

  2. Who exactly reads the comics in Comics Sherpa? I visited your Navy Bean comic and found nothing but a mishmash of words in an impossibly small font and a bloblike character sticking his head out of a mailbox. This is obviously where I’d go if I wanted my next big comedy idea.

  3. Navy Bean is a brilliant strip. I think it’s one of the best written strips that’s ever been on Sherpa.

    As for this cartoon series, it sounds hilarious.

  4. I like alot of the strips on Sherpa, there’s some good work there. Strips like Green Planet, which is consistently funny and well written.

    Just stay away from God awful stuff like oh…say…I dunno… Police Limit.

  5. If I got paid to do it (like John Glynn), then I might be willing to sacrifice precious life minutes to wade through the God-awful stuff on Comics Sherpa too.

  6. Police Limit doesn’t have talking or a family so it’s doomed to obscurity.

    But meanwhile, back at the topic thread, John Oats has always been outspokenly perplexed by how his mustache in the 80’s took on a sort of iconic life of it’s own. I think this animated cartoon project is a clever nod to the Hall and Oates phenom of the 80’s. Plus they are local boys from Philly so I gotta champion the cause.

  7. Speaking of Comics Sherpa, did anyone see what the new gocomics format did to it?

    Before readers could be reading Cathy or FBOFW & easily quick search the Sherpa titles from those pages, now a reader has to first enter Sherpa via a separate window to see the selection.

    The point of Sherpa was to be equally side by side accessible with the syndicated strips, not to be an annex.

  8. >>>The point of Sherpa was to be equally side by side accessible with the syndicated strips, not to be an annex.

    No… actually, it’s purpose was and is to suck $ from gullible wannabe cartoonists to post their strips on a site that nobody frequents.

  9. Rick, I use Sherpa as a portfolio site for my strip, mainly because I could pre-schedule the releases, an option only recently added to Blogspot–making Sherpa less necessary for my needs. Truth is I get far greater response to the strip via Blogspot & MySpace–so trust me, I never had grand illusions about Sherpa.

  10. I’ll tell you what would go a long way in improving the quality and consistency of the comics on Sherpa.

    If an author does not update his or her strip in over three weeks, that feature should then be automatically dropped from the site’s list of available strips, regardless of that author’s account status.

  11. Garey, Never going to happen–Sherpa isn’t going to implement a policy that could discourage someone from paying the 100 bucks sign-up fee.

  12. “Noâ?¦ actually, itâ??s purpose was and is to suck $ from gullible wannabe cartoonists to post their strips on a site that nobody frequents.”

    Why does P.T. Barnum suddenly leap to mind?

  13. Garey, Never going to happenâ??Sherpa isnâ??t going to implement a policy that could discourage someone from paying the 100 bucks sign-up fee.

    Do they really charge a $100 sign up fee?? Holy Deliverance, Batman!

    At least Ned Beatty got a nice vacation before he was porked…what’s the charge for? The monthly fee should be enough…


  14. Eric, That is the monthly fee but you have to pay it in non-refundable bulk for either six months or a full year–you can’t bail out with only a $10 or $20 loss.

  15. All this would be worth it on Comics Sherpa if there was a decent sized audience that visit it. Does anyone happen to have any stats or figures on how many people visit the Comics Sherpa part of gocomics daily?

  16. >>>>Does anyone happen to have any stats or figures on how many people visit the Comics Sherpa part of gocomics daily?

    Just a perfunctory visit to the site and a glance at about 25 sherpa features randomly chosen illustrates a complete lack of talent. Not one feature made me want to see 2 consecutive days. Just looking at how some were drawn was cringe inducing. Why would anyone got there and waste their time looking at poorly drawn atrociously written elementary school scribblings is beyond me.

    It ticks me off that a major syndicate is exploiting desperate amateurs in this way. But then I remember the old adage that noone can take advantage of you without your cooperation.

    >>>Iâ??m getting the impression that some of you guys have negative opinions on Sherpa.

    I think what astounds many of the pros who feel this way is that the amateurs that fall for this scam don’t concur.

    Ask yourself one one question. If you were sitting at a table having drinks with Mike Peters, Lynn Johnston, Garry Trudeau or Steve Brodner would you be proud to tell them that you have a feature on Comics Sherpa?

    Your answer would clarify how much respect you’d deserve for your work. If your answer was Yes, you’re a rank amateur and if it was no, why be a part of it in the first place?

    I have ultimately far more respect for cartoonists who create a web presence for their features and promote it on their own…Yes I’m talking about the Scott Kurtz’s and Dave Kelletts out there.

  17. Gee, I started out on Comics Sherpa.

    Thank God there are big, smart, strappin’ guys like Rick and Wiley to point out how I and other Sherpa-ites have no talent and are gullible idiots.

    P.S. Wiley, the quote you’re thinking of was never uttered by PT Barnum.

  18. Doug eat Doug was picked up by Creators wasn’t it? For the vast majority of features that appear in Sherpa, it’s pretty obvious that Universal has no intention of syndicating any of them. Doug eat Doug would have been picked up regardless of your Sherpa “exposure” Brian. It obviously stood out. But the sherpa folks at Universal were doing you no favors. You can take offense to what I or anyone here says about Sherpa, but at least we’ll tell you what you need to hear, no holds barred as opposed to telling you what you want to hear. It may seem blunt, but in the long run it’s a bit more honest than anything Sherpa will be telling you while they cash your checks.

    You obviously have talent, but you certainly were gullible thinking Universal charging you money to give them web content was going to do anything for you professionally.

  19. Rick, Are you saying my work is induces cringing? Or that my work doesn’t deserve respect by your ‘standards’? Or that I’m a gullible pigeon because I use Sherpa along with my own site? It’s very easy to find 25 random stinkers on Sherpa so generalizing every strip guilty defeats your argument.

    If you bothered reading my earlier post I noted using Sherpa because I could bulk down load for specific release dates which blogspot couldn’t do until recently.

    Do most of their strips suck? No one has EVER debated that. Have there been some good strips? Yes, including a few that are now print or web syndicated (guess they achieved success despite themselves).

    And no, I never had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Peters & proclaim that I’m on Sherpa, but I have heard from other syndicated cartoonists & animators contact me to compliment the strip–guess they were slumming it or offered kind words out of pity.

    My post was a consumer note on their change of service, but as you pointed out–what difference could this change make anyway.

  20. The gullibility aspect of Comics Sherpa is where people somehow think this is going to be a faster track toward syndication. I can understand that desperation.

    But there is a positive aspect to Comics Sherpa in developing one’s self in cartooning, and that is to use as nothing more than a training camp in testing yourself to produce a daily feature. When we first start out in developing a comic strip, we have absolutely no clue on what it’s really like to produce a syndicated comic strip. We all just work it out in our spare time, then after a while package it up and submit it to the syndicates, dreaming about what a great and easy job it’ll be to just draw cartoons every day for a living instead of a regular job at an office. If your feature is offered a contract by a syndicate, you’re euphoric. And it keeps getting more exciting as you work your way up to the launch of the strip. Then, after a couple of months or so in publication, you discover the reality of deadlines, as the advance work you’ve done is all gone and you’re still working on a schedule of doing cartoons when you feel like it.

    It’s happened to ALL of us, even seasoned pros in another field of cartooning who develop a syndicated strip.

    So my advice is to use Comics Sherpa for your own use, without any thoughts of anyone else reading it. Pretend that the feature is in syndication and that you have to produce six dailies for at least 3 weeks in advance, and assess how well the material holds up. Do the gags and/or storylines get better as you go along or does it wane? Does the feature run into a creative dead end or do the ideas keep coming as you venture further into feature? This is how you find out if you’re cut out for this venue or not.

    And Brian, I note in your attempt to make yourself out to be a victim that you didn’t say anything to refute the accuracy of anything Rick or I said. That actually validates our assessment. What we are trying to do is help young cartoonists find their way, and a big part of that is trying to steer them away from things that are just going to waste their time and, in this case, money. I have been in continuous syndication since 1980. I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get there and, more importantly, to stay there. Rick is also a seasoned pro who knows his way around. So if you want to dismiss what we have to say and play the victim role, that’s entirely up to you. I know that’s a very popular position to take on internet chat boards, as the snark factor rules supreme here.

    Or you can learn something… something of a rarity in this so-called information age. It’s entire up to you.

  21. Rick, So what you’re saying is–regardless on how talented Brian is, his route to becoming one of the hottest cartoonists today is invalid because he was on Sherpa?

    Think I’ll stick with Mr Anderson as an inspitration–no offense, Rick.

  22. Argyle Sweater started on Sherpa … and he launched in 135 papers with a calendar deal less than 2 years later.

    I’m not saying there isn’t any truth to the criticisms … but there are at least a couple of success stories that shouldn’t be dismissed.

  23. “You obviously have talent, but you certainly were gullible thinking Universal charging you money to give them web content was going to do anything for you professionally.”

    So now you’re insulting and psychic. How did you know what I was thinking when I signed up?

  24. Wiley, Posting on Sherpa is like when the Marx Bros or Jack Benny started in small-time vaudeville. You fine tune your act with the ulitmate object of someday playing The Palace.

    But, regardless if most of the strips suck or traffic doesn’t reach the millions–people on there should get the format they paid for, to be on the main page & not a seperate pop-up.

  25. “Posting on Sherpa is like when the Marx Bros or Jack Benny started in small-time vaudeville.”

    Yes, that was pretty much my point of using it as a training ground, Larry. It can be very useful in this way.

  26. Now I’m a victim hiding online. Great. More insults.

    Any day you or Rick want to call me gullible or a victim or snarky to my face, please feel free.

    “And Brian, I note in your attempt to make yourself out to be a victim that you didnâ??t say anything to refute the accuracy of anything Rick or I said. That actually validates our assessment.”

    You guys said sherpa cartoonists were gullible and had no talent.


    If you’re going to sling insults, at least be man enough to stick to it. Don’t start trying to spin it around when someone actually calls you on it.

  27. IMO, Comic Sherpa was an ingenious way for the syndicates to make some cash. From what I have read, they get about 6,000 submissions a year. $100.00 x 6,000 equals a number that would make me want to start Comic Sherpa.

    My initial fear of Comic Sherpa was that they picked a few of the top talents and gave them a development contract and that’s it – and I was worried that they did that just to dangle a carrot and keep the natives from getting restless. It’s good to finally read that there were some success stories from it – that made it all the way to the big leagues.

    Just remember, Comic Sherpa can also backfire on you – if you don’t maintain a consistent schedule, the syndicate may take note of that and think you don’t have what it takes to maintain a daily routine.

  28. Yah, Jason, a lot of great strips have come out of Sherpa.

    However for me, Sherpa was just part of my overall marketing for the strip. My background is online marketing, so when I started DeD as a webcomic I was always looking to try out different avenues for promotion.

    Now it wasn’t the most successful of my campaigns, but it did bring in a lot of readers and traffic to my main site.

  29. Jason, You don’t submit to Sherpa, you pay ’em & you’re posted. I recall one strip they did pull due to content.

    You may be mixing the 6,000 figure with Universal Press Syndicate’s print submissions numbers. Sherpa doesn’t carry anything close to that.

  30. It’s pretty easy to spot members of the back-slapping Sherpa Brotherhood on this site. I particularly get a kick out of how proud they are for “graduating” from Sherpa. Inexplicably sad.

  31. >>>>â??Posting on Sherpa is like when the Marx Bros or Jack Benny started in small-time vaudeville.â?

    Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers didn’t pay vaudeville theaters to perform their acts in public. The analogy is a bit faulty.

    >>>Rick, So what youâ??re saying isâ??regardless on how talented Brian is, his route to becoming one of the hottest cartoonists today is invalid because he was on Sherpa?

    Who said anything about Brian’s work being invalid because of Sherpa? If you read my post with open eyes you’d see that Doug Eat Dog and Argyle Sweater are exceptions to the rule that Sherpa features are mostly cr@p. They would’ve gotten launched without it.

    >>>You guys said sherpa cartoonists were gullible and had no talent.

    Of the 25 or so features amongst the several dozen there I looked at, that statement is true. Whether any one of those were yours, I don’t know, I didn’t pay attention to the authors.

    What I actually wrote was ” FOR THE VAST MAJORITY of features that appear in Sherpa, itâ??s pretty obvious that Universal has no intention of syndicating any of them.”

    Historically, that has been true. I stand by that statement.

    When I write Vast majority it means that there will always be a couple of diamonds in the rough. My point was that those diamonds would most likely have gotten a syndication deal regardless of Sherpa. Argyle Sweater and Dog eat Doug are the exceptions, obviously. In Your features case Brian, you got a deal from an entirely different syndicate. Which proves my point. That for the vast MAJORITY of comics on sherpa, Universal has no intention of syndicating any of them.

    There’s no way you can convince me or any other professional cartoonist that paying a syndicate to have your work on their site is a savvy business move. It’s worse than giving away content for free. You’re PAYING to give content to a syndicate. That’s generally considered a bad business move in most circles. Even if you use Wiley’s model and have sherpa be a training ground to see if you can hack the daily output that syndication demands, you shouldn’t have to pay for the priviledge. You can do that on your own for free. Or if in a proper development deal, the syndicate should be paying YOU to develop this skill, just as they have in the past with every other feature that’s been launched over the past decade or so.

    I’m on YOUR side whether you think so or not. I’ve always been against Sherpa because it exploits artists. And I’d say it to your face Brian (whatever that implies)… Pointing that out may pi$$ you off but it doesn’t invalidate anything I’ve said.

  32. “Itâ??s pretty easy to spot members of the back-slapping Sherpa Brotherhood on this site. I particularly get a kick out of how proud they are for â??graduatingâ? from Sherpa. Inexplicably sad.”

    Great, another insult slinging know it all. I didn’t “graduate” from Sherpa. Sherpa was just a small part of marketing for my strip. A lot of my present day readers found me on Sherpa.

    But that, along with my other campaigns helped build a sizable, international audience.

    And I’ve always been willing to share those strategies with other cartoonists, as opposed to calling them gullible, snarky, or inexplicably sad.

  33. “Thereâ??s no way you can convince me or any other professional cartoonist that paying a syndicate to have your work on their site is a savvy business move. Itâ??s worse than giving away content for free. Youâ??re PAYING to give content to a syndicate. Thatâ??s generally considered a bad business move in most circles.”

    Again, Sherpa was part of my overall marketing. Now it wasn’t the largest part, but at the time, cost wise, it was a great deal for the amount of readers I was getting.

    So in a lot of business circles, that’s a very good move.

    You and Wiley jumped the gun with too many assumptions and now have to back track on everything you’ve stated.

    If you had assumed from the beginning that maybe, just maybe, some cartoonists were smartly using Sherpa for exposure and to build a reader base it would’ve saved you the trouble. And possibly given some cartoonists a new avenue to explore.

    Okay, done with the name calling mamby-pambies. Really, third grade was a long time ago for me.

    On to giving some helpful advice:

    Just like any marketing campaign, you test it out. Now first off, in order to track traffic from Sherpa, I had my own site set up. That made it easy for me to toss Sherpa in the spreadsheet with other campaigns.

    Now obviously, unlike for example, adwords, you don’t have any control over the traffic. But you can see how loyal the traffic is as opposed to a banner campaign or other advertising.

    Like I said before, Sherpa was not my no. 1 souce of traffic, but the returning visits stats were at the top. That, along with the cost made it a very successful campaign.

  34. >>>Great, another insult slinging know it all.

    And nobody’s insulting you. It’s pretty much a consensus that DED deserved syndication and that you are a talented cartoonist. Stop being so thin skinned. Nobody’s denegrating your work.

    The belief here is that you didn’t need Sherpa.

    The derogatory comments here are directed at the Sherpa process itself and the vast majority of the garbage features that are posted there.

  35. I agree with Rick that there is a lot of junk to wade through out on Sherpa. I think that there should be filters in place for comics that haven’t updated in x amount of days/months/whatever.

    But, I have to admit, Sherpa was great exposure from a web standpoint. It definitely helped my first feature get off the ground and get some eyeballs on it.

    I don’t know why it’s so impossible for some folks to just let people push their work the way they see fit without being made to feel like a slob for doing it. You don’t like Sherpa. We get it. There are way more important things to whine about.

  36. Exactly the point, Mike.

    Don’t jump to the belief that everyone on Sherpa is gullible and being taken advantage of.

    Take off the blinders and you might learn something. I would’ve dropped Sherpa in a heartbeat if it wasn’t paying off for me.

  37. “Even if you use Wileyâ??s model and have sherpa be a training ground to see if you can hack the daily output that syndication demands, you shouldnâ??t have to pay for the priviledge. You can do that on your own for free.”

    Yes, absolutely. One can, and should, do this on their own, but some people need an extra incentive to put themselves in the mindset of producing as though their on deadline.

    The do it yourself method is one I’ve mentioned here before, where you test yourself by setting a goal of producing a month’s worth of dailies (26 cartoons) with a two week deadline. This simulates real life deadline pressure in syndication. Then set that work aside for a week or so, then go back and look at it with as objective an eye as possible too assess the quality and consistency of the work. If you struggle to produce that when the feature is fresh, then you’ll never be able to produce it on down the line.

    And, Brian… you really need to read the posts more carefully. They are not insulting you. They are general criticism. You still haven’t said anything that refutes the accuracy of the criticisms. Just saying “I refute that” doesn’t refute anything. Of course there has been some quality work on Comics Sherpa, and some features that have moved up to syndication. But they didn’t reach success because they were on Comics Sherpa. I would think that they would have attained the same thing had simply been developed and submitted the way we all had done in the past.

  38. Beware Romans baring gifts..

    Rick, I’m probably older than you are so please don’t push your opinions as guidance or consumer protection–there are far more worthy a School of Visual Arts freshmen who may find your ‘tough love’ more welcoming.

  39. Larry – sorry my initial post wasn’t clear. Yes, I meant that syndicates get roughly 6,000 submissions a year – so that’s a lot of submissions that might possibly use their Sherpa service.

  40. Wiley, Rick — it’s certainly not that you aren’t right. You are. It’s certainly not that you aren’t respected. You are successful veterans in an uber-competitive field. And veterans, I might add, who continue to grow and produce original work, which is even more impressive.

    But the John Houseman routine is becoming, well, tiresome. It’s not wrong to call crap crap. I don’t presume to ask you to sugarcoat or head down the treacherous path of political correctness. But why not share the advice without the baiting insults? Or perhaps like a curmudgeon college professor, that is your intention in order to toughen up the students. If this is the case, I must say, that whole “don’t play the victim, Brian” bit was a passive-aggressive gem. Bravo!

  41. “Noâ?¦ actually, itâ??s purpose was and is to suck $ from gullible wannabe cartoonists to post their strips on a site that nobody frequents.”

    “Why does P.T. Barnum suddenly leap to mind?”

    These are Rick and your words.

    What I have refuted is your assumption that Sherpa cartoonists are gullible and suckers (and again, PT Barnum never said the quote you’re referencing).

    Then I went one and offered my advice on how I used Sherpa for marketing my strip.

    I’d love to see more positive ideas as opposed to carpet bombing other cartoonists with nasty assumptions.

    “And nobodyâ??s insulting you.”

    And for crying out loud, I don’t care if anybody insults me. I spent ten years of my life in the ring. I can take a punch. I took umbrage to the blanket assumptions tossed at a group of cartoonists.

  42. Wiley, Another point is for a lot of people Sherpa is a less costly & time consuming option (people do have day jobs).

    Going back to the quality issue, without question most Sherpa strips are bad–most ANYTHING is bad, but that doesn’t make the concept of Sherpa invalid–it’s the ‘open enrollment’ that should change.

  43. >>>But the John Houseman routine is becoming, well, tiresome.

    Mr Hart, here’s a dime. Call your parents and tell them there is serious doubt of you ever becoming a syndicated cartoonist.

  44. I have to agree with John Auchter. I’ve been on countless of cartooning forums and I’ve seen these threads develop countless of times. Surely after so many times, Wiley & Rick, you have to re-examine the way your posts come across and maybe rephrase things? You can’t possibly think that so many different aspiring cartoonists are just misreading your threads and it’s all some kind of cosmic coincidence.

  45. Rick Stromoski: “Ask yourself one one question. If you were sitting at a table having drinks with Mike Peters, Lynn Johnston, Garry Trudeau or Steve Brodner would you be proud to tell them that you have a feature on Comics Sherpa?

    Your answer would clarify how much respect youâ??d deserve for your work.”

    Just to be clear, I have not used Comics Sherpa. However, if it was part of my marketing to further my goals, even having had paid a small fee for the exposure to drive traffic to my feature, yes, I would. In the same way I would tell them that my first real cartooning gig was having a single-panel cartoon published in my hometown weekly newspaper, for free. A paper that served a measly 1855 people. And then from that freebie, as part of my marketing to get published and “move up,” I would tell them I then approached another weekly paper in the next town, but offered my cartoon for $10 a cartoon, which they took. And then I’d tell them that I took that and worked up the confidence to approach Jay Kennedy at King “The New Breed” years ago, and he bought about 5 of my toons. and then I’d tell them how I took that confidence, and took a batch of my work to the daily newspaper in the next city, and offered my panel cartoons to them, and they turned me down. And so I tweaked my approach, because I had gained confidence in myself, and offered more… cartoons, illustrations… and they asked if I could do editorial cartoons, and I said yes. And they hired me at $25 a cartoon weekly for editorial cartoons. And how that gave me the confidence to approach them about working for them full-time a few months later, and they turned me down. 3 times. And I kept at ’em, and offered to do grunt work in the backshop, if they’d let me do my cartoons as part of the job. And it worked. And I did it. And won awards. And 6 months later, I was promoted out of the backshop and into a full-time editorial cartoon position, with a hefty raise, as well as doing a daily gag cartoon on Page 1, and newsroom illustrations, eventually for the whole company of 450 newspapers nationwide. And I took that to syndication with Scripps Howard, Artizans, magazines, newspapers, websites, published a book or two, and eventually wound up working for Jim Davis on Garfield, while also becoming successful with my own online webcomics, etc through CBS/STARTREK.COM, and others. I’d be proud to tell of how I worked my ass of any way I could to make it in my chosen field. And know what? I have actually talked to Lynn and Mike Peters, and even Sparky and of course Jim Davis, and many others. And what I got from them, even in my early days of struggle, was a gracious, positive and inspiring thumbs up to keep pushing, work hard, meet deadlines, get better, study the masters and keep trying. And I was treated with far more respect and inspiration than anyone will find from Wiley Miller or Rick Stromoski on these boards.

    Sparky once told me that the best thing to do is go to your local newspaper and offer a batch of your cartoons, and work your way up from there. Of course, now, there are many other options, Sherpa among them.

    Sorry for the long diatribe. But my point is, you do what you have to do to make it. You work hard at it. Rick, Wiley, you know that better than anyone. Young amateurs who may be “gullible” as you say (and yes, some are, they’re not pros YET, not all… it’s a risky business. I would call them “Hungry” before calling them gullible.) and unpolished today at Sherpa, may be the Schulz and Davis and Stromoskis of tomorrow. You can’t diss that.

    You offer up your “helpful” advice to young cartoonists, yet you come off like know-it-all curmudgeons who have all the answers and anyone who does otherwise is a gullible moron whom you denegrate with your comments.

    Sometimes all a young cartoonist has are dreams and high hopes. When we become professionals, we learn the ropes, the realities. It can be daunting. The odds are hard, near impossible. But not impossible. But you press on, and if you do, and improve, you just might make it.

    So, young cartoonists, if Sherpa works for you, and you are willing to spend your herd-earned bucks on it so the syndicate might exploit your money (and yes, they are), yet offer you an actual place to improve, show your stuff, grow a thick skin from the criticism, (and these boards) and offer you a way to get a taste of deadlines and readers demanding your work to a higher standard than just a hobby, do it. But don’t set your eggs in that basket alone. Build a website of your own. Spend that hard-earned money on a URL for your comic. Start a free blog. Go to your local newspaper. Seek out magazines and greeting card companies and other viable outlets for your work that WILL pay you. Educate yourself not only in your craft of writing and drawing, but also in business and promotions. Not good enough just yet? Stay at it. Bust your ass. Mort Walker once said he always felt he had to work twice as hard as the next guy, and that it would make him a success. It worked. You have to do that. The cream always rises to the top. This ain’t kid’s stuff. Use Sherpa to gain feedback and criticism. Improve.

    The rest of us await your polished comics work. 😉

  46. It’s great when I hear (in private or via email) from noted cartoonists & animators but the feedback that counts the most (to me anyway)are from the average reader. They are the ones who make or break us.

    Rick, To answer your earlier question: Yes, Lynn Johnston actually did critique my Sherpa work. She daringly had all positive things to say other than I should go from single-2 panel dailies to 3-4 so readers could spend more time getting to know the characters– nothing about being me being lowly Sherpa rift-raft.

  47. Iâ??m trying to stay out of this â?? but I take umbrage with the accusations being made there. Massive umbrage. An umbrage so big Iâ??ve had to stop wearing legwarmers because â?¦ well, that’s another story. I digress.

    I’m sorry there are people here who think we’re swindling cartoonists. “Swindling”? Really? Feels a bit hyperbolic to my delicate ears.

    Here are some facts:

    We charge $8.25 a month per cartoonist. There’s no sign-up charge. There are 150 or so cartoonists active at any month â?? thatâ??s $1250 a month to run the whole site … not really a good business model. The ads are bought on a bigger buy from our network of sites â?? and the Sherpa traffic is dwarfed by the bigger sites we run, so the ad revenue helps, but again hardly worth the effort to manage and maintain. If we had to decide whether to run the site or not due to the profit/loss statement we would shut it down.

    We do it for two â??businessâ? reasons. 1) Thereâ??s a â??first right of refusalâ? built into the agreement when you sign up. It doesnâ??t mean we automatically get the rights if we want them, it means that if someone else approaches you and is interested, you have to be sure weâ??re not interested. Donâ??t like that idea? I understand. Letâ??s agree to move on. But if you hadnâ??t heard from us before youâ??ve been given an offer from another entity, I doubt we would — and to this point, have not, gotten in the way. Even if we did, now you have two suitors â?¦ increasing your leverage in negotiations. It’s not matching rights, it’s first right of refusal, there’s a big difference. 2) It gives us a great way to monitor a stripâ??s progress and growth. And yes, there are only 5 to 10 strips we actively monitor at any one time, but that list changes. We get a lot of submissions where the first 36 strips are great â?¦ then the next 36 not so much â?¦ then the next 36?? Hmm. — “Is this the same person?” This helps us do some weeding.

    Weâ??ve debated the whole subscription price back and forth till weâ??re blue in the face here. Thereâ??s a large contingent here who thinks there should be no charge, others think that if we lower the bar/cover charge the quality on the lower end will get even lower and it’ll be even harder for readers to find the good comics. So, right now, weâ??re settled that the cartoonist has to at least show the commitment to a $9 a month to post. But that could and probably will change â?¦ weâ??re always examining.

    I take further umbrage with the no traffic claim. The Top 10 Sherpa strips in traffic would be in the lower 80-85 percentile â?? yes, toward the bottom but ahead of many â??professionalâ? syndicated features if they were on Thatâ??s all based on their work â?¦ no promotion â?¦ no handsome syndicate marketing their work.

    Argyle Sweaterâ??s traffic after a few months on Sherpa and then gocomics put it the Top 20 percent of all everything on the site. To me thatâ??s what the site is all about â?¦ build a good comic and the audience will come. Build a bad comic or quit after a week â?¦ well, you know.

    And if you can build an audience on the Web here (or anywhere) it can be a great part of the sales story â?? it certainly was with Argyle Sweater. Any piece of data that we can use in the sales pitch helps these days â?¦ anything. Newspaper editors are in a bad spot and buying a new comic these days (no matter what the quality) seems to be less and less a priority â?¦ the more ammo we can give them the better.

    If a creator could start his/her own site for $100 a year and get all everything Sherpa offers with zero back-end work â?¦ GO DO IT! Sherpa isnâ??t perfect and not for everyone. I have a ton of respect for guys like Kellett and Kurtz â?¦ theyâ??re talented and smart and have committed resources and time to build their brand and their sites. And if youâ??re at the same place as those guys, follow their model, if not Sherpa is a convenient, no mess option. But this isn’t a swindle, it’s an opportunity … getting paid to do your comic is a long shot … and this is one option â?¦ but we’ve never claimed that signing up is gonna make your comic better.

  48. I had a friend who used to offer me guidance with geniune thoughtfulness & humor, his name was Mark Cohen. This gentleman on every level, professionally & personally, was an inspiration to me! Though Mark passed away before there was a Sherpa, I wouldn’t be doing AW PRUNES! without his encouragement and for that I’ll always be grateful.

    Rick, The route you’re taking is very negative & serves no purpose other than venting your opinions under the mask of guidance. I like your strip but I’m very disappointed by your posts.

  49. “Mr Hart, hereâ??s a dime. Call your parents and tell them there is serious doubt of you ever becoming a syndicated cartoonist.”

    See, this is exactly the type of thing that the folks on here are complaining about. Everybody on this board had to start somewhere.

    Who gives a rats @$$ how long you’ve been at your craft. It doesn’t give you the right to try and make them feel like worms. Keep it to yourself once in a while. Contrary to your belief, not everyone cares what you think.

  50. To follow-up on John’s post, Universal Press Syndicate indeed shows up a few times a month on my Site Meter. They absolutely do keep tabs on the strips, including offering Editor’s Picks every few weeks.

  51. I’ve been trying to stay out of this too, John, but I do feel I have something to add. The internet is a huge highway system. The road going to my site is a dirt road. The road going to Gocomics is a superhighway with an exit that says”Comic Strip Lovers Exit Here”. Hmmmm…….Which site would I like to post my strips on?

    And Rick, didn’t you say on another board that you had never had a strip rejected by a syndicate? That might explain your lack of understanding in what it is like to be like most of the rest of us. We are aspiring and we are hopeful. We are talented and we want to be validated.

  52. For those who don’t like seeing Sherpa strips that haven’t been updated in a long time, there is an option to view a list of comics in order of most recently updated.

  53. John Glynn wrote:

    “I take umbrage with the accusations being made there. Massive umbrage. An umbrage so big Iâ??ve had to stop wearing legwarmers because â?¦

    “We charge $8.25 a month per cartoonist. Thereâ??s no sign-up charge. There are 150 or so cartoonists active at any month…It gives us a great way to monitor a stripâ??s progress and growth. And yes, there are only 5 to 10 strips we actively monitor at any one time, but that list changes. We get a lot of submissions where the first 36 strips are great â?¦ then the next 36 not so much â?¦ then the next 36?? Hmm. â?? â??Is this the same person?â? This helps us do some weeding.”

    Well, John, see this is where I take umbrage. Traditionally this model was once called a “development period” where a syndicate interested in a feature would PAY the cartoonist to see if they could sustain the rigors of putting together a daily feature. It wouldn’t be much, anywhere between $2k and $4k for 3 months work but the syndicate would still pay for the priviledge of having a cartoonist develop a feature under their tutelage with a right of first refusal rider attached to it.

    To me and most professional cartoonists this is taking advantage of unschooled cartoonists’ who don’t know any better. If Wiley or I came to you with a new feature you can be sure we would not work under the conditions that Comics Sherpa artists are asked to work under. We would get paid for our development deal. You say you pay attention to 10 or so features…then you must know darn well you have no intention of doing anything for the other 150 or so amateurs whose checks you’re cashing every month.

    And let’s be honest here. The PRIMARY motivation for artists participating in Comics sherpa isn’t to bring readers to your feature or website but to get a syndication deal. And the syndicate befifits from charging artists for web content and free development deals that they normally should be paying for the few features that show some promise.

    And my John Houseman quote was posted to lighten up things up so Witmer take a chill pill. I’m on your side you ding dong.

  54. I used to be a Sherpa guy, but stopped after the full paid year.
    At this point, I’m probably no furthur, and no more back, than I was when I was on Sherpa.
    I’ve got one of those “dirt road” sites Steve S mentioned. Sure, i may be lost in the sea of the internet, but at least I can promote myself better (with a somewhat proper sounding webadress).
    Whereas, with Sherpa, I was lost in the sea of really lame scribbles no one in their right mind would call comics (I’m being literal here), with a web address that was way too long and complicated and scared people off. (something a long the lines of… Catchy, eh? Looks even better on a business card.)

    Plus, from what I saw, the only Sherpa surfers seemed to be other members, and they, in turn, stole each others jokes at a ridiculous rate! (It really reminded me of theose “Have your poems published in this book!” things, which you’d pay $20 for, and get a book of badly written poems, by no discernable talents, who also spent $20 for the privilege… and they’re the only customers!

  55. “And my John Houseman quote was posted to lighten up things up so Witmer take a chill pill. Iâ??m on your side you ding dong.”

    It’s like a little mouthy 4th grader who runs around calling people names, then when people stand up to them they say “Gosh golly, calm down. I’m just playing”.

    Then they go right back to picking on people.

    Let’s all just concede Rick and Wiley are just smarter than everyone else.

    That way the rest of the gullible, snarky, sucker, ding dong (did I miss any?) cartoonists can get back to discussing actual ideas that can grow your cartooning business.

  56. Rick, get real. It’s a different world, a different market out there. In defense of Sherpa, they do have bandwisth issues, and do provide a template for cartoonists to unleash their wares. Look at the newspaper market. It’s tough. And while they keep their eye on those 10 or so comics, those other 150 had and have every chance to catch attention too. The cream rises to the top, just like the slushpile of mail-in submissions Universal or United Media, etc deal with. Only this is a public way of developing one’s feature.
    Of COURSE the primary goal for a cartoonist is to get syndicated through Sherpa. Some have. Some very GOOD ones (i.e., Dog Eat Doug, Argyle Sweater, etc). And some use it as a promotional tool.
    The models are changing out there. Savvy cartoonists, even amateurs do what they have to in an every changing and demanding market.
    One thing you have to say for every single Sherpa cartoonist at Comics Sherpa, that has not been said: “They’re DOING it.”
    INstead of dreaming and sitting and wishing, they paid some cash upfront to risk humiliation, criticism, accolades, improvement. They are actually writing and drawing, for all to see, damn the consequences. That, in itself, even to me as a professional, is inspiring, and I say “Here, here” to them all.

  57. I wonder how many more great cartoons would be out there if everyone didn’t feel the need to “discuss” every nook, cranny and crack of this crumby industry.

    I’m starting to realize all these forums and blogs just plain suck. They suck you in and then they suck the fun out of everything.

    I dig what Alan does here with the news and updates, but I wonder if comments section is such a good idea.

    I also wonder why I’m not playing right field for the Yankees, so its possible I’m just blowing in the wind.

    Blowing to suck.

  58. Rick, not that I think you’ll listen to anything I have to say, but here it is: Sherpa doesn’t force anyone to pay. They don’t hold a gun to anyone’s head. What they offer is a site with a high volume of traffic that will give a new artist (or an established artist for that matter) a wider visibility almost instantly. Sure, sherpas could build a site and pay for advertising and pay for marketing and spend countless hours on the internet networking (and in most cases they will even after they launch on sherpa).

    But sherpa provides a chance to get feedback from readers and other artists who are much in the same boat as they are.

    You come across so aggressively on this topic. It’s almost like you think Sherpa is forcing people to shell over the money. It’s ridiculous. You have made some decent points in between the badgering and the stupid-ass comments. If you could just stick to the good points, people might actually hear ya.

  59. This is so strange, because I recall a discussion from another thread on this very website where Rick and Wiley and Ted Rall insisted I bring them evidence of print cartoonists crapping on the work of webcartoonists.

    I guess my search for that evidence continues.

  60. *ahem*… Let’s all take a ten minute break and cool down. I want to make sure Alan has a site to come home to after his vacation — not the remnants of a nasty bar room brawl.

  61. Corey, first of all, might I say that I have noted in just about every post you toss into these forums that you consistently use the terms “you people suck,” “cartoonists suck,” “cartoonists are idiots,” “I hate this industry,” “I hate other cartoonists,” and in this very last post “this crummy industry.” Which baffles me considering I enjoy your comics, and you do very well with your various works. If you hate it so much, why, my friend, do you continue? Stop and smell the roses, buddy! 😉

    And Scott, you have found your evidence here. Case in point, cause, um, yeah, Wiley and Rick have a knack of waiting atop a tree like Snoopy in vulture mode, or like Lucy holding a football in an open field, ready to pounce on any Charlie Brown cartoonist hopeful and inspired to kick the cartooning football and be what they were born to be.
    Rick, if someone sat you down and told you all the impossilities of becoming successful when you were just starting (and I’ll wager some did), would you have quit? No, I doubt it. Chill out, dudes. We’re all in this together, to better each other. Not crap atop others’ heads who think differently, or have the brains to see that the traditional ways of entering this wonderful industry have changed, will change, andthat we all must acclimate to it.

  62. If you’re looking to find readers of your strip or to possibly increase the number of readers, it’s the easiest $100 to spend on a little “marketing”, if that’s what you want to call it. I mean, come on! The EASIEST $100!!!! Now, having said that, I find today that it takes 4 clicks to get to my strip on Sherpa. What are they thinking over there?

  63. .>>Noâ?¦ actually, itâ??s purpose was and is to suck $ from gullible wannabe cartoonists to post their strips on a site that nobody frequents.

    Rick, this is your original post. Which I thought was both mean-spirited and ill-informed. I felt like I’ve successfully explained that we do not do it for the money. And that some of these “wannabee” cartoonists are getting more traffic than your “professional” brethren.

    I’d put Universal’s reputation for bending over backward for their creators up against any company … in any media. So for you to attempt to sully our reputation with an uninformed comment on a well-read industry message board — is both unacceptable and unprofessional.

    And we still do development contracts. But the strip has to be 95% ready to go … not “close.” We don’t have a magic pill that makes a good strip great.

    And, maybe I’m just a simpleton myself, but I think you overestimate the amount of “gullible” cartoonists out there, the Web can get you up to speed on the basics of any industry pretty quickly.

    But what if you are right? And Sherpa is littered with dimwitted country folk convinced they’re going to be the next Watterson? In the grand scheme of things, if they’ve spent $100 to learn that maybe they don’t have what it takes … instead of flailing away for years, I’d say money well spent.

    And you’re entitled to your opinion as to why we do it, but I’ve outlined the reasons why I KNOW we do and yet you still balk.

    Fair enough. But it seems counterproductive to continue to try to convince you when you’re so sure of your stance as to analyze our business from hundreds of miles away and armed with seems to be nothing more than your own personal “evil syndicates ripping off the stupid little guy” theory.

  64. Don’t worry, David, I firmly believe that Corey loves us all. He’s just trying to become the “shock jock” of cartooning. Maybe there’s too much Howard Stern playing in the background when he’s inking.

    Trying to develop a “bad boy” image in comic geekdom. Now there’s an oxymoron in development.

  65. “But what if you are right? And Sherpa is littered with dimwitted country folk convinced theyâ??re going to be the next Watterson? In the grand scheme of things, if theyâ??ve spent $100 to learn that maybe they donâ??t have what it takes â?¦ instead of flailing away for years, Iâ??d say money well spent.”

    A’men to THAT, brother.

  66. Here, here. John, I admit, your first explaination actually was very beneficial, and I confess I learned some things I didn;t know. Thanks for that, bud.
    And your most recent post made a verty good point about investing in ones self, that makes me think of another analogy to paying for Comics Sherpa’s service.
    Many of us pay for business cards, postcards, one-sheets, our own web domains, supplies, wacom tablets, Cintiqs, those comfy-easy-on-the-tailbone-butt-donut-cushions for our chairs, etc., to further our business plan, as part of our overall expense(and Sherpa creators, yes, your payment for Sherpa is a business expense for your business if you are a freelancer who makes your cartooning any sort of living at all, make sure you’re including it on your taxes as such!). If Sherpa is part of that plan, to drive traffic and interest in one’s work, the same way that set of business cards did, then what the hell is the problem?
    And in my honest opinion, there are some damn good strips at Sherpa, such as “Imagine This,” that are attention getting (and in my opinion the NEXT Argyle Sweater or Dog Eat Doug!). Call it the American Idol of comics on the web. There are some Sanjayas, some Clay Aikens, and some Kelly Clarksons out there, and all manner in-between. If you’ve looked at your comic page in the newspaper, the same can be said for those syndicated too. But again, it is the philosophy of “Just Do It.” Which I find to be a positive thing, ultimately.

    What I wanna know is, can any Sherpa creators divulge the sort of traffic they get at their Sherpa page, or how beneficial it has been to their core website as a promotional tool? I’d be interested in that.

  67. ” So for you to attempt to sully our reputation with an uninformed comment on a well-read industry message board â?? is both unacceptable and unprofessional.”

    Unprofessional? Why…isn’t that one of the pre-requisites of being in the NCS? I do believe that it is.

    Rick, does this mean the NCS is loosening their position on professionalism? If so, I would like to formally resubmit my application.

  68. >>John Glynn wrote:

    “Iâ??d put Universalâ??s reputation for bending over backward for their creators up against any company â?¦ in any media. So for you to attempt to sully our reputation with an uninformed comment on a well-read industry message board â?? is both unacceptable and unprofessional.”

    I agree with your assessment regarding Universal’s reputation as a great syndicate to work with. You syndicated me twice. Lee Salem is the best at what he does and I have many friends still at Universal. But let’s drop the accusations of “sullying your syndicates reputation” and “unprofessionalism” and let’s look at it honestly. There is a hierarchy at every syndicate when it comes to talent. Sherpa artists are treated worse than the red-headed step child.

    If you asked any cartoonist working in syndication today what they felt about Sherpa and if it’s an ideal avenue towards syndication, or if they’d reccommend it to any up and comers who have syndication aspirations you’d get a pretty much unanimous opinion against it. Pointing that out on a bulletin board where these newcomers congregate may irritate you some but it’s neither unprofessional or unacceptable position to take.

    >>>â??But what if you are right? And Sherpa is littered with dimwitted country folk convinced theyâ??re going to be the next Watterson? In the grand scheme of things, if theyâ??ve spent $100 to learn that maybe they donâ??t have what it takes â?¦ instead of flailing away for years, Iâ??d say money well spent.â?

    In the past , that information came in the form of a rejection letter costing the cartoonist nothing but maybe some hurt pride. Now it costs $100 or even more if the artist is willing to pay and Comics Sherpa will cash his checks.

  69. “What I wanna know is, can any Sherpa creators divulge the sort of traffic they get at their Sherpa page, or how beneficial it has been to their core website as a promotional tool? Iâ??d be interested in that”

    David: Here’s the breakdown:

    Fresh strip: 800+ a day

    Rerun: 200-400 a day

    Far as I know Sherpa subscription readers are not included in the final tally because they get the strip emailed on a seperate page. Plus, keep in mind each archive page viewed registers as an additional hit. I’ve had readers go thru the entire archive in one sitting which greatly increased the final stats for those days.

    Does Sherpa traffic carry over to my core website? Yes, but I regular readers break down to which site they prefer & stick with it. Some prefer blogspot because it’s easier for to scroll down a full page of strips or clicking character/theme menus on blogspot rather than hitting the reverse icon each time on Sherpa. On the other hand, many readers prefer Sherpa’s larger images (blogspot images have to be clicked to full size). Plus on Sherpa I can easily use gif animation (as with the one currently posted), on blogspot animated strips have to be clicked to full size for them to work.

  70. My experience: After sending a submission package to the syndicates years before I was ready, John Glynn got back and immediately put me on comics sherpa. I guess the stuff was good enough to warrant interest and they eventually offered me web syndication, which I had for years until UFS picked me up.

    I also wrangled some of the better strips on the site into a smaller collection that we self-published. It was to help promote ourselves and was unaffiliated with Universal. John was nice enough to write the intro for us.

    They are paying $100 a year to get their work looked at? That’s chump change compared to what I spend annually promoting myself. Cartooning is a money hole for 99% of creators.

  71. >>>And youâ??re entitled to your opinion as to why we do it, but Iâ??ve outlined the reasons why I KNOW we do and yet you still balk.

    Who’s balking? I think we’re both in agreement as to why you do it. I fully understand the motives.From your own words You get to develop potential talent from a pool of what is mostly ghastly submissions, nothing different there from the traditional model of the syndication process. The worm in the ointment now versus how it was done in the past is that cartoonists never had to pay for the priviledge of having their features assessed. And it was instant feedback. You either had what it takes or you didn’t. But now that process can be drawn out indefinitely as long as the creator wishes to send in his monthly fee. The syndicate gladly takes that money, knowing full well they will never launch 99% of the features. And those that do show potential you get to develop them for free versus paying for that as you did in the past. Actually you make a profit since the cream of the sherpa crop still has to pay their fee.

    The income helps supplement paying for the bandwidth and any development deals fees you actually occur when you decide something is worthy. So far that’s amounted one feature from Sherpa in what 7 or eight years. But even if it just breaks even it’s worth it to do since it pays for itself.

  72. “Donâ??t worry, David, I firmly believe that Corey loves us all. Heâ??s just trying to become the â??shock jockâ? of cartooning. Maybe thereâ??s too much Howard Stern playing in the background when heâ??s inking.

    Trying to develop a â??bad boyâ? image in comic geekdom. Now thereâ??s an oxymoron in development.”

    The only things I love live in my house.

    As for being a “shock jock”, never was a fan of Howard, who’s quite full of himself. I have always included myself in the sucking, so I’d be a bad “bad boy” of comic geekdom, as it were.

    I guess for me, it comes down to “Hey, I can draw these funny pictures, and hey, someone will pay me for them. All right, I’ll do that for a while.”

    No over-analyzing, no group therapy as to where, when how and why… And certainly no telling others how to be exactly like me. Can you imagine? “Be a Fake Rockstar! The ass-backwards depressed way!”

    I’m just a drunk with a pen and the occasional paper, waiting for the fireworks.

  73. $100 may seem like a lot(it’s surely more than paying for a domain and webhosting) but I’m pretty sure(correct me if i’m wrong) Sherpa started before sites like blogger took off.

    Sherpa was a way to publish comics without worrying about coding a website, and making archives. These days there’s blogger, and stuff like comicspress.

    On sherpa all you had to do was upload a jpeg. they took care of the hosting and they took care of the archive.

    That doesn’t mean there were( and still are) problems with sherpa.

    Sherpa suffers from the same problems that gocomics and suffer, the interface. You have to click on a comic which loads up in a new window, then hit the back button and wait for the menu to load again. With the professional sites people generally know what they want to read, or they sign up for the emailed comics page. for someone to read all the comics on sherpa would take quite a while.

    And that two column list. How are people supposed to wade through that? They are basically reduced to picking a comic based on how good the title sounds. That is by far the WORST part of Sherpa. Most people don’t want to spend an hour clicking through each and everyone.

    The Best (free) model I’ve seen for displaying comics is defiantly by far the AAEC. You just click next, and you can read all the cartoonists that updated for that day. Whoever came up with/made that model, you rule!

    The other problem was the fact that Sherpa hasn’t changed at all since it started. And I’m sure there have been calls for changes. The only change they’ve made is getting rid of rating systems(which was faulty). No tracking for visitors, no site states, nothing to gage your readership.

    And if you’re paying $100 bucks a year the least they could do is offer a critique at least once a year.

  74. Touche. Maybe I was being a little melodramatic.

    So let’s drill down to your beef. You’re angry about the $100? That’s in place to keep out people who aren’t committed. I told you we would shut down the service if it was a standalone business.

    You’re angry that no one visits the site — Larry has 800 visitors a a day. That’s amazing. And better than a lot of features on GoComics.

    You’re angry about the way we treat the cartoonists? We make no promises or guarantees of anything other than what’s in the agreement. It’s a meritocracy. Don’t like it. Don’t sign up.

    Just angry in general? … here’s a dime …

  75. “You know what would really improve Comic Sherpa? An animated cartoon starring the mustache of John Oats.”

    Excellent! I don’t care what anyone says, the idea of John Oates’ mustache being voiced by Dave Attell is comedy gold.

    Comics Sherpa chime-in: I had a strip on there for a year and it was worth the money I paid. I got exposure along with feedback and constructive criticism from readers and fellow cartoonists which helped me hone my art and writing.

    Is Comics Sherpa the ideal path to syndication? No. The ideal path is mailing a package to syndicates and then getting a call saying â??We want your strip.â? (Spending only a couple bucks on a mail package vs. $60 on a six-month Sherpa contract.) However, along with the possibility of getting picked up for a development deal, Sherpa also offers a forum for cartoonists to meet and network with each other. I met about a dozen cartoonists through Sherpa who are now my friends. I wouldnâ??t have met these folks if I only tried the â??traditionalâ? route.

    Yeah, Sherpa isnâ??t perfect but the plusses outweigh the minuses. If people choose to try it out, why knock â??em? We all take different paths in this cartooning world, and Comics Sherpa is a path.

  76. John, You should put me directly on gocomics just to spite Rick!

    I haven’t posted on Sherpa recently but look for a massive wave of new strips beginning in a few days!!!

    “The only change theyâ??ve made is getting rid of rating systems(which was faulty)”

    When Sherpa had the rating system I had someone coming on 50 times a day to vote ‘1’ (faulty is an understatement). But to their great credit, Sherpa removed the system and readers can still privately vote & touch base via the feedback option.

  77. >> Who’s angry?


    But I’m feeling better … I just had some jasmine tea with honey. Very refreshing.

    Go look at Rabbits Against Magic and tell me there’s no talent on Sherpa … .

    We’re working on making it a better more helpful experience … does that mean it will ever be free? I don’t know. That’s a scary thought. Do we need better ways to navigate? Absolutely. It’s admittedly (many times here) not perfect, but there are a lot of success stories that had some ties to Sherpa. That’s not to say we had any or everything to do with their success … just a fact.


    Dog Eat Doug
    Argyle Sweater
    Matt Bors

    Great unsigned strips that are or at one time were on Sherpa:

    Tree, Pinkerton, 44 Union Avenue, Imagine That, Mythtickle, Hubert and Abby, Lost Sheep, Bob the Squirrel, , Bleeker the Rechargable Dog, Pursuit of Mandy, Small Wonder, Pigtails and Potbellies, Navy Bean, Green Planet, and many, many, many more … apologies if I’ve forgotten are all great strips on their own that for various reasons we have chosen not to syndicate.

  78. apologies if Iâ??ve forgotten are all great strips on their own … that for various reasons we have chosen not to syndicate.

    forgot the ellipsis there … apologies

  79. Whether or not Sherpa sometimes leads to something better, the point is that we cartoonists have to improve our self-image so that we don’t buy into models like Sherpa. This isn’t meant as a dis on John, who has great credentials as a UPS editor, or as a dis on anyone who’s on Sherpa. My point is more about how we cartoonists accept the unacceptable, whether on Sherpa or in any other setting.

    I’ve sparred with Rick before, but I’m going to extrapolate and say his and Wiley’s ire have to do with the complete backwards direction that paying a syndicate to run your work takes us in. It’s bad enough we give up 50 percent of revenues. This is a step in the wrong direction.

    Until I started meeting NCS cartoonists, comic strip syndication — by no means an automatically rewarding experience, but something I was and am pursuing — seemed like a unattainable castle in an impenetrable, 500-foot high wall. Once I personally met cartoonists and editors, that perception, even before I became syndicated, vanished — and I realized that there was a 500-foot wall around my BRAIN, preventing me from seeing myself as a professional cartoonist.

    Out of desperation, I almost posted on Comics Sherpa. I’m really glad I didn’t. In my opinion, it was the wall in my brain â?? meaning a fearful, unliberated way of seeing myself and my creative life â?? that let me even consider it.

  80. John, Don’t forget–Sherpa is also the home of AW PRUNES!

    Rick left me with an insecurity complex & I need all the home court encouragement I can get 🙂

  81. As a current content provider of ComicsSherpa, I’d like to offer this…

    After submitting my strip, and promptly getting rejected by the syndicates, I got into ComicsSherpa with the dream that this was my shot at the big time. If I worked hard and developed my strip, someone there would take notice and I’d be on my way. Naive? Most definitely – I certainly know that now.

    Shortly after, I discovered a little book called ‘How To Make Webcomics’. It opened my eyes and – through the podcasts – ears to what I needed to do to become successful. The great thing about the HalfPixel guys is their frank and supportive take on everything to do with Comics.

    Now I use ComicsSherpa as PART of my overall development plan. It’s supplied me with incremental, but increasing exposure and traffic. And to compliment David’s excellent post above, it gave me confidence to work harder and develop my strip. Today I’m admitting my naiveté in my comment here, tomorrow I may tackle another obstacle/objective.

    BTW – “One can, and should, do this on their own, but some people need an extra incentive to put themselves in the mindset of producing as though their on deadline.”
    This is a good point.

    I’ve learned that I may not make it big through syndication, but I can make a living at something I love to do if I work hard and develop a loyal reader base. I need to be able to handle the business as well as the creative end and I don’t mind not getting paid to develop my strip because in the end, I will be in control of my creative and my business.

    On a side note, I’m not receiving criticism or accolades from ComicsSherpa so I must be doing it all wrong.

  82. In this day and age, I’m surprised that most of the syndicates haven’t introduced a “web trial” component to their submissions process. While I personally respect the experience and opinions of any syndicate editor, most will admit that they’ve mistakenly passed on a good opportunity in the past. As John mentioned, there’s no “magic pill” for creating a feature that readers respond to.

    While I’ve been very tempted to try Sherpa in the past, my ONLY reason for using this service would be to attract an editor’s attention for syndication consideration … But I can already do that via the traditional submission process, so I don’t see any additional benefits.

    I’m sure that there’s a core group of cartoonists out there right now who’ve frequently read the words “You’re work ranks among the top that we receive, but …”

    As one still seeking syndication, my open suggestion is to create a “web trial” component (similar to a development contract) where the “top” submission packages that you receive are released over a 4 to 8 week period. At the end of this trial, readers can tell you if they’d be interested in reading more … After all, they’re the ones we’re all targeting in the end. The only catch here is that the cartoonists wouldn’t be required to pay for this trial — they’ve already invested enough time with their writing and artwork (and paper and postage costs). Traditional development contracts would follow a successful “web trial.”

    Of course, you probably don’t want your competitors to know what features you have in the works, so I think I’ve just killed my own suggestion 🙂

  83. At the end of the day the only opinions that count are those of the readers. If the strip gives them a good laugh, I did my job correctly!!!

  84. Comics Sherpa may be a fine way to gather an audience at a small price, and Iâ??m sure it has convenient programming, but I canâ??t believe that many aspiring cartoonists would choose to participate on the site it if it were not for the perception that they were buying an opportunity for Universal to better consider their cartoons for syndication. If Comics Sherpa was a service offered by another company that wasnâ??t a syndicate, there would be no issue.


    You surely know that Comics Sherpa has been criticized for years, and is seen by many cartoonists as cynical and exploitative of the dreams of aspiring cartoonists.

    You could put the issue to rest just by no longer charging aspiring cartoonists to be on the site. Run Comics Sherpa from ad revenue, like you do the rest of If you need to charge something to limit participation to â??seriousâ? cartoonists, then have the fee go to charity.

    You wrote that the cartoonistsâ?? fees only amount to $1,250/month – that canâ??t be worth the continuing stain on Universalâ??s fine reputation, among many in the cartooning community.

  85. Apparently, we’re all pretty passionate about this stuff. Hollywood’s really missing out. “American Idol: Comic Strip Artist” Rick and Wiley can be the judges.

  86. Cartooning is a mirror of life itself, you never put all your eggs in one basket and I doubt most do just because they’re on Sherpa or believe it’s a ‘guaranteed pipeline’ to Lee Salem. It’s an cheaper & easier option for people who don’t have the time or resources to invest in their own domains.

    I remember an old interview Bill Yates did as KFS Comics Editor, he noted the bulk of submissions were bad, with a few truly horrific including one he received drawn on toliet paper. If someone chooses to post their 2 ply renderings on Sherpa believing the site is paved with syndicate contracts, it’s their c-note to spend! As John noted, Sherpa never makes such promises.

    As I said 80 posts ago (yipe), I originally chose Sherpa for it’s convenience of bulk downloading strips for specific release dates, which blogger couldn’t do back in 2006.

    Nothing is a sure thing, just look at all the excellent newer strips that recently ended. Just do your best & use the path (including Sherpa) that works best for you!

    As Stan Lee used to say ’nuff said.

  87. “Apparently, weâ??re all pretty passionate about this stuff. Hollywoodâ??s really missing out. â??American Idol: Comic Strip Artistâ? Rick and Wiley can be the judges”

    Rick is easily the new Simon. If Wiley has the legs, he can be Paula Abdul’s counterpart.

  88. If i have my own comic strip on Comics Sherpa and then start my own website, do I still have to give them the right of first refusal as technically it is still being offered elsewhere. Or do I let them take it, put it on GoComics (web only) possibly never to see the light of day again beyond that site. They could just probably sit on it effectively by keeping it there and thus prevent myself ( and other creators) from really getting BIG EXPOSURE and BIG AUDIENCES elsewhere. I am sure this is happening to a lot of features that ‘migrate’ to GoComics and then the original audience for them wanes. It probably wouldn’t bother GoComics that the features are getting less audience as they would have then succeeded in preventing the competition of a rival successful webcomic.

  89. Kati, The right to first refusal is only for a 2 week period & only covers offers from other syndicates, not if you sell the strip via a different venue (self-syndication, comic books, animation, greeting cards, etc.)

  90. I also have to chime in here.

    When I started “The New Adventures Of Queen Victoria,” I was posting it on LiveJournal. After two months, I signed up with Sherpa just as an extra venue for it. I got great feedback from readers, good comments and criticism from Dave (the Aide De Sherpa), and eventually a web syndication deal from the main GoComics site.

    If I had just created my own site, I would have paid $10.00 for the domain name, $4.00 a month for hosting, and either would have had to invest the time in designing my site or paid someone for a design package. Never mind promotion. Granted, I ended up spending that money later on to have an “official site,” but it would have been as much of an upfront expense as the money for Sherpa had been.

    Is there a lot of crap on Sherpa? Yes. But there are a lot of crappy webcomics doing it by themselves, too. And, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of crap on the comics pages as well.

    Last week, I was interviewed by Maggie Thompson of “Comics Buyers Guide,” and we were talking off the record about my disdain for certain strips out there right now. She smiled at me and said “you won’t be saying that when you’re sitting across the table from them at an NCS dinner.” I said “they don’t let webcomics in the NCS.” She said “that will change. It’s just another medium.” And services like Sherpa are just another part of that medium.

  91. CS gets about 7,154 visits per month vs. 2,408,157 for CS actually has more pages viewed per visit, meaning the viewer who goes to CS tends to “stay around”.

    Those 7K could “possibly” be the CS cartoonist “checking” thier cartoons :-).

    They need to just open up CS. Add the ability to upload videos and .swf animations. Now that Google can index .swf files CS would get tons of hits from people doing regular Google searches.

    I had a strip called GameFace on CS. I was actually the second strip on CS. A guy had a cool strip about a bird, rat, and some other animal on CS. I forget the name of his strip. It was about city animals and was a really whimsical strip. His strip was the first strip on CS.

    I was asking them them (CS), in 2003 to let us upload videos and flash animations (.swf). CS was like no, that would not really work, viewers would not like the whole “video” thing.:-0

    That was the reason why I stopped using CS. CS could be very cool, they just need to allow really short form animation / video and redesign both sites to be alittle more web 2.0.

  92. From a previous thread, Sherpa Brotherhood member Pab S. said:

    Argyle was the first of a great batch of Sherpa strips to be â??graduatedâ? from Sherpa to GoComics. Hereâ??s hoping that some of the other strips that followed behind it (like â??Bleekerâ? and â??Pinkertonâ?) soon follow suit!

    Congratulations, Scott! Nice to see a fellow Sherpan make it to the big league.

    Graduated?! The big league?!

  93. Yes. “Graduated” in terms of being moved from the service where we paid for hosting the strips to where we were being paid for it. It was either Mike Witmer or Jonathan Mahood who used that in our chats with each other, and we’ve always used quotes around it to denote that we don’t consider it a literal graduation.

    And as for big league, I’d call national print syndication the big league for those of us who do daily strips. Wouldn’t you?

  94. All Internet video is not on youtube. ABC, NBC, Hulu, and a host of others have online video. They don’t just say “go to youtube to see our videos”. That is giving away your “eyeballs” to Google for free. CS really needs to take the
    next step.

    This would also allow the new talent more opportuinites (static cartoons and shorts animation). These new directions may be “just the thing” that some cartoonist need to breakout and get popular. I think what CS is doing is a really good start, they need to just “keep moving” and not “stand still”.

    I mean, dag, if stuff like “J-Stache” is getting a greenlight anything is possible. J-Stache?!?!?! WTF…(rolls eyes)

  95. J.G., with all due respect, comic strips are not “standing still” and “old-hat” to all of us. They are an artform unto themselves that deserve as much respect as shiny flash animations which require usually a small team of people to produce, which is cartooning by commitee. We don’t all get excited about cartooning by commitee in this way with our own creations. That’s the beauty of COMICS. One guy or girl can sit in their room and do them and keep their vision very personal for others to share. Yes, comic strips can be supplemented by animating them in other forms, which is very cool, but don’t dismiss static comic strips as being useless in a way that means doing them is “not moving forward” or “standing still.” These suckers have been moving forward for well over a hundred years now, and are worth every dead tree and pixel they are printed on.

  96. I think animation adds to a webcomic if it contributes to the gag & not just there as window dressing.

    Unfortunately Sherpa files are limited to 1MB so when I do gif animation it’s simple stuff like Dewey’s foot sniffing a fire hydrant (and other tasteful humor).

  97. With all that’s being said about Sherpa here, there is something that I have experienced that I thought would be worth sharing. I have my strip on Sherpa and I have it published everyday in my local paper. The feedback that I get from the paper is far better and more helpful than the feedback I get from Sherpa. It is also great to see your stuff in print everyday. It helps to see your stuff in print because you know there are people reading it and reacting to it, whereas on Sherpa it is all but lost. Now that Ucomics has redesigned their site, it is very Sherpa unfriendly. It takes four clicks to get to any one strip.

    So, in the end, being in one paper and getting positive local response has been far better than my experience, or lack there of, on Sherpa. Newsprint wins again!!!!

  98. “Now that Ucomics has redesigned their site, it is very Sherpa unfriendly. It takes four clicks to get to any one strip”

    Steve, This is the original issue I brought up 100 posts ago, Sherpa’s strips are now a seperate annex window rather than being directly quick-link accessible from any gocomics page.

    I heard from David (aide de sherpa) who is on vacation. He said the changes are still ongoing and will give me additional information & updates when he returns.

  99. Oh wow, your THAT David. LOB is a great strip. Your work is verrrrry good! I like the clean look and the overall style of LOB. The writing is funny.

    I feel you David. Static comics are the foundation; it is how most of us got “hooked” :-). I just hate how the Comic Arts is the “poor cousin” in the media world. Comics get left behind because comics won’t change.

    It not about “paper vs. web” –

    What makes comics fun is the concept and the content, not the “printed or static” page or animation for that matter. Animation is just a delivery method that media “gets”. Video is easy for media to use. Video is easy for media to SELL.People are lazy. Reading a page is harder than staring at a screen.

    Video killed the radio star long ago and cartoonists just did not get the memo.

    UPS has “seen the light” finally! They are going to do animated versions of comics. I wonder what on EARTH took them so damn long to figure this out.

    UPS needs to just hire flash animators and do the animation in house, that way they control everything. About 2 years from now Alan will be posting this –

    Breaking news: UPS announces that they have an in house animation department.

    Don’t outsource what you can do yourself.

    Print or web, it does not matter. You â??portâ? the content to various formats so that you can satisfy your customer needs.

    Customers really like online video these days.

  100. It’s about the ads –

    limited animation, imho is the only way to get comics and advertising merged together again. Remember, Comics were originally “in play” “back in the day” because comics drove newspaper ads.

    youTube has shown that videos, like the comics in the early 1900s can drive ad$. So much so that Google paid big buck$ to own youTube. Google know where the money i$.

    Go where the money i$ –

    Cartoonists need to move to where the money i$. Money is what drives everything in the media world. No money, no media. This is why comics are dying. The only comics that are thriving are the sure bets, Snoopy, Garfield, Dilbert.
    The new guys like PVP, PFB, Achewood have the content but since most of it’s static they can’t take it to the next level without killing themselves.

    Google get$ it –

    Google is giving The Family Guy creator wads of cash to do what…..make animated comics AND sell ads next to his animated content, hmm, that sound just like something a guy named Hearst did in the 1900s. It worked then and it will work now.

    Ad money is why rich companies are rich. Once you have content that can drive ads the world is your Google, er oyster.

    Get a piece of the media pie –

    Limited animation really is the only way to ratchet things up so that more cartoonists can get what others in the media world take for granted (money, cool projects, a little fame…)

    This also will stop people from getting burned out. Cartoonists just don’t see any “payoff” and just move on to other things, (PFB, Spot the Frog, many others…)

    Movies, music, and “fine art” all get way more “love” than the Comic Arts. Hell, most of the “good” money making movies out are based on……COMICS!

    We just need to do “something” to get our “piece of the media pie”. imho

  101. >>>Rick is easily the new Simon. If Wiley has the legs, he can be Paula Abdulâ??s counterpart.

    I take that as a compliment. Who’s opinion is sought out and taken seriously , is the most accurate and honest on Idol?

    Unless you want someone to tell you “You look lovely tonite”


  102. I think Corey’s penchant for inebriation would make him a more appropriate counterpart for Paula Abdul.

  103. “I take that as a compliment. Whoâ??s opinion is sought out and taken seriously , is the most accurate and honest on Idol? Unless you want someone to tell you â??You look lovely toniteâ? :)”

    Rick, I always look dapper in the evening 😉

    Now that you accept the role of Simon, does anyone have a pic of Wiley in shorts?

  104. J.G.
    Yeah, couldn’t help but notice the ads. Especially the one that kept following me around while I was trying to look at your site.

    As far as Comics Sherpa goes, I wouldn’t do it. Right now I’m practically giving my newspaper my editorial for free, why would I pay someone to show my cartoon? That don’t make no sense.

    Concerning harsh criticism, that’s just part of the gig. If you can’t take rejection and the occasional “you suck” comment then you are doomed. In fact the most poisonous substance is flattery.

    I’m intrigued about J-Stache, might be amusing.

  105. “I think Coreyâ??s penchant for inebriation would make him a more appropriate counterpart for Paula Abdul.”

    Whoa, hey now. Let’s not get nasty…

    1. American Idol is what’s wrong with the world.
    2. I’d rather not be lumped in webcartoonists AND/OR crazy print cartoonists who frequent forums on the big ol’ scary Interweb… I’m my own insecure drunk.
    3. I prefer “talent for drinking” over “penchant for inebriation”.

  106. “Concerning harsh criticism, thatâ??s just part of the gig. If you canâ??t take rejection and the occasional â??you suckâ? comment then you are doomed. In fact the most poisonous substance is flattery”

    Beth, There’s a BIG difference between a ‘you suck’ & being told I’m completely void of all self-respect for using Comics Sherpa.

  107. “3. I prefer â??talent for drinkingâ? over â??penchant for inebriationâ?.”

    Duly noted. You are by far a more talented drinker than Paula Abdul. And my legs are longer than all of Paula Abdul.

  108. Ha! If memory serves, there was a picture of Wiley in hawaiian shirt and shorts in a submission package for Non Sequitor years back (when I worked at the newspaper)… or maybe I’m thinking of one of Paula Abdul’s album covers from that time…

  109. “after a while you wonâ??t even miss your self respect. I donâ??t”

    Beth, You’re right–using Comics Sherpa as a portfolio site does indeed strip me of all self-respect, the shame is right up there with hocking my nana’s dentures for india ink money.

    I’ve seen the err of my ways, when my Sherpa subscription is up I’m going to use that $100 to buy my sweet nana new teeth. I feel so much better now, whewww..

  110. Animation does nothing for a comic strip. It does not belong anywhere at all in a comic strip. If a certain comic strip starring a certain orange cat(just a example orange cat loving fans) has him blinking his eyes or chomping a pizza back and forth does that REALLY add anything to the enjoyment value of the comic at all? If anything I say it detracts hugely away from the whole purpose and point of a comic strip. Humour is based on timing , getting the joke as quick as possible, using as short a form of words and writing as possible and still pulling off a great joke/story/character interaction. Any animated part of the comic will SURELY lengthen the time it takes to read the comic and weaken the joke as a result.
    Remember how Bill Watterson changed the way he drew the pads on Hobbes’s paws by omitting the black pads altogether because he KNEW that they only detracted the reader’s attention away from the joke in hand….so imagine what any animated parts of a comic will do…I dread to think

  111. That’s so sweet Larry, I’m sure your sweet nana understands. Anyways, use what works for you as far as marketing goes. If Sherpa works, great. I haven’t really started marketing myself yet so what do I know? I just don’t have a lot of scratch to throw at people so I’m picky. I feel lucky to see my cartoon in print where other people can see it. And that is pretty much all I care about.

    By the way, the first comment was not addressed to you. The second one was snarky (I mean, how could I resist?). This 3rd one is to wrap it all up in a nice little bow because I want a cheeseburger and a beer.

  112. By the way Larry I hold an exception for your comic and it’s animated bits. I think Aw Prunes is brilliant!!

  113. Beth, I’m just grateful Nana didn’t press charges.

    What counts most to me are the reader. Yesterday when John said my stats are on par with a couple of the gocomics strips, that meant a lot to me. A large part of cartooning is touching base with your readers & I’m very grateful to everyone who reads my strip on Sherpa.

    PS: I checked out your site & I have no doubt you’re going to achieve great success. Enjoy the cheeseburger & beer!!!

  114. Hello. My name is Brian….and I used Sherpa once.

    Sherpa was and is still underdeveloped, but I have always forgiven them their shortcomings because I thought the service was spot on for the price.

    I believe from what I have read from Rick and Wiley that they are looking at Sherpa as a way to bypass or replace submissions to the syndicate and from that stand point their critisism of the service is probably valid. Why should cartoonist pay to be reviewed by a syndicate. Insane.

    I personally did not sign up for the Sherpa service as a bypass to submission to the syndicates. I saw a way to join a comic community that was one of the largest on the internet to meet other cartoonists who were on the same path as me.

    I met a lot of great cartoonists and I am still in contact with at least 5 or more of those after almost 7 years since I canceled my Sherpa account.

    One of those people is Brian Anderson. Not only is he a great cartoonist he is a great person.

    Justin Thompson (mythtickle) and Tom Racine (booksmarts) co-host a podcast with me where I have had the honor of meeting quite a few of you.

    So I would say my Comics Sherpa experience has made a pretty big impact on me.

    Would I be proud to tell syndicated cartoonists where I first published my comic strip….YES. Do I feel a brotherhood with other Sherpas…YES

    Because to me…that was what it was all about.

    As a matter of fact. I may just join back up.

  115. Well put, Brian. When you get down to it, Comics Sherpa isn’t that far off from the other “co-ops” of comics creators. It’s a community as much as a service. And if I can ever get “Hairball Hollow” up to the standards I want, I’ll put it on Sherpa to start it off. First, though, I really need to learn to draw.

    When are you three going to interview me for Comics Coast to Coast, anyhow? 🙂

  116. I feel like I should apologize. I didn’t mean to start a whole big scandalous Sherpa ruckus. I use sherpa because it puts my work infront of civilians rather than law enforcement. Most of my traffic to my site comes from those in law enforcement, but since I’ve been using Sherpa my site traffic has increased and so has my civilian audience. That’s worth the 8 bucks and change per month.

    I have no delusions of syndication. My work is more of a catharsis than anything else.

  117. And hey, J.G., I mean no disrespect, seriously, Iâ??m just obsessively passionate about my darn comics! (As I know you are too, bud) 😉

    David, I think that JG is just mad that yet another Boston sports team has won a championship. Boston’s good luck in the sports department over the last eight years sometimes affects JG and his forum decorum, right JG 😉

    Don’t worry my man, football’s right around the corner. Start chilling the beer now…

  118. Pab…consider yourself invited on CC2C. 🙂

    Late to the party, which seems to be wrapping up nicely, but reading a lot of this thread has inspired me to cancel my Comics Sherpa account. Not because I’m ashamed of it, or that I think it’s useless…I’m with my esteemed colleague, Brian Dunaway in his thinking. It was a chance for a wannabe to have his stuff seen by more than his immediate family and friends, and just the contacts and friends I’ve met through it have been more than worth the price of admission. (My main inspiration to join in the first place was just for the simple convenience of not having to create and maintain my own site.) But through Sherpa, I’ve been able to meet and converse with some great cartoonists and artists, and finding that sort of supportive community is invaluable to an artist.

    So, why am I cancelling? Mostly due to the idea that I really agree with the concept that the best thing something like Sherpa can do for you is to keep you on a schedule of doing comics 5-7 days a week; boot camp for comics, the minor league concept. And I haven’t posted in forever…so really, I’m just wasting my $$$ at this point. If I want to step up to the plate with an actually syndicateable idea (not my strongpoint, apparently), I’d re-up with Sherpa in a second. For now, at least, my philosophy is “Those who can’t do, Podcast.” 🙂

  119. Sorry I’m a bit late to this, as my internet access has been nil owing to an incompetent ISP.
    I was a big critic of Sherpa when it was launched, as the cleverly worded blurb was clearly designed to take advantage of wannabes who were encouraged to think that syndicate suits would be looking at their work.
    Clearly, the thinking was “what the hell, we have to look at this crud, let’s make money out of it’.

    Naturally, any syndicate rep would not admit that, but that was obviously the way the meeting went.
    Later, as I had gotten good reactions from a couple of syndicates from my initial submission of “Eve” (and they had asked to see more) I used Sherpa as a motivator. It was an outside agency and it forced me to draw a strip per day. After about 40 uploads, I got snowed under with other work and couldn’t keep doing it.

    This goes back to Rick’s comment previously. Syndicates aren’t offering solid development deals anymore, they’re merely pointing promising cartoonists to the web, offering nothing except an unpaid slot and encouraging them to keep uploading – Forever.

    Lost Sheep got fed up waiting, and What The Duck (a strip I picked last year as a keeper) is supposed to appear on the horizon in a few months time, after the creator has spent untold hours promoting it in email bulletins to his fans.

    I was well treated by Sherpa, who had taken note of my acid comments and entered into polite correspondence with me. I liked the guys I dealt with, and they sent me a note regretting that I decided to pull my strip “Eve” from Sherpa after what they felt had been no time at all.

    I explained that my purpose was merely to force my lazy @ss to draw about 20 more strips and that my goal had been achieved. Eve has since entered a long hibernation, but I’m sufficiently conceited to think it’s a very commercial product and in the intervening years I have entered into conversation with a number of US editors on its merits.
    Without exception, they said that if it was offered by a syndicate sales person, they would buy it, but notice that they insist it must be offered by a SYNDICATE.

    This is why I have a huge beef with the major syndicates. What gives the one or two people guarding the gate at each syndicate the rights to control my access to the market? Blind adherence by newspapers to procedure and bone idle laziness on behalf of editors, that’s what.

    So Diesel Sweeties gets the nod, is hawked around, and now is cancelled, whilst “Eve” can’t get sold even though editors have written to me saying they like it and want it?

    I was curious as to whether “Eve’ ever really grabbed the attention of any Sherpa fans. Today I Googled and found a blogger’s entry from 2005 (jeez it was that long ago).

    “I peruse the daily comics and find only a handful that are humorous. Foxtrot is my favorite, followed closely by Dilbert. Beyond that the pickins are slim. I see a couple of comics on Comics Sherpa that are Class A material and should be published. Eve is one…. Eve is exceptionally well drawn and very insightful, as well as being quite funny…. Check them out at Comics Sherpa.

    No-one asked that guy to write that, I’ve never heard of him, I don’t belong to his clique, but he felt strongly enough about a strip he’d never seen before to type it.

    And I feel strongly enough about my abilities and talents to write this. As long as the wrong people are choosing the strips which make it into the sales peoples briefcases, the industry will continue to decline. Where is the accountability? If these people continue their litany of rotten choices and promoting duds, do any of them lose their jobs? Apparently not.

  120. “If these people continue their litany of rotten choices and promoting duds, do any of them lose their jobs? Apparently not.”

    I think new editors should have to prove their comic strip choosing ability for at least two years without pay, to prove their competent at picking at least one semi successful strip. New cartoonists don’t get paid.. why should they?

  121. Malc wrote:

    Eve has since entered a long hibernation, but Iâ??m sufficiently conceited to think itâ??s a very commercial product and in the intervening years I have entered into conversation with a number of US editors on its merits.
    Without exception, they said that if it was offered by a syndicate sales person, they would buy it, but notice that they insist it must be offered by a SYNDICATE.

    It is true that many editors prefer to deal with syndicates. They have a lot of work to do just getting the paper out each day. Can you imagine what if would be like if they had to sort through dozens of new comics feature submissions each day?

    That said, if you can document that you have editors ready, willing and able to sign a contract to buy your strip, you should put together a list of contact names with your submission and send it to the syndicates. It’s nice to start out with a big initial client list.

    This is why I have a huge beef with the major syndicates. What gives the one or two people guarding the gate at each syndicate the rights to control my access to the market?

    It’s somewhere in the Constitution. The 29th Amendment or some such. Unless Bush got rid of that one, too. In which case, it’s God.

  122. When you do some background research into how the bigger syndicates were founded and syndicate execs appointed, you find that the stories are very similar. One exec who seems to walk to the beat of a different drum, however, is Amy Lago of WPWG. Her track record includes formerly occupying the hot seat at United Media and developing the strips we now regard as the better features, and she was very supportive of “Eve”. It was me who actually closed the door on discussions. I had a choice to either concentrate on the work I had on my desk or concentrate on an indeterminate period of development with no promise of jam tomorrow. I chose jam today.

    Amy was the first syndicate suit to reply to me via email and encourage me to send more work, unlike King who haven’t replied to me in over twenty years. I accept that a smaller syndicate can perhaps afford to be more accessible, but WPWG must receive as many submissions as any other syndicate. They just have better manners.

  123. There is a solution to getting paid for your ideas, and that is, if a comic strip is too much work for the money, or the likelyhood of getting syndicated too slim, than choose a different medium. People can submit ideas for animated TV shows, write childrens books or comic books. Of course, all of that takes time so choosing the best medium for your ideas, is , I think as crucial as the idea itself.
    The thing is.. getting a childrens book published is just as hard as getting a syndication deal.

    But from what you’ve decribed Malcolm, an “indeterminate period of development with no promise of jam tomorrow.” Is what we in the freelance illustration world call “spec work”.

    A perfect example of spec work would be someone wanting an artist to illustrate a 20 page childrens book, with the assumption that some day, it will be published and then on some day in the unforseeable future you’ll be paid.

    When ever I see this kind of thing, I fume, because I know it’s a scam. Any artist dumb enough to take the job will never see a dime. And it’s no less a scam here. How many hours were wasted my cartoonists who where strung along by a syndicate. Having a syndicate screw you instead of an individual on craigs list, does not make the situation any more legit in my eyes. You’re being asked to send in packets of comic strips for free with no financial incentive and no guarantees???

    We all have to eat, and I would have chosen the “jam today” just like you did.
    Nodds of approval don’t pay the rent.

  124. I was always pro-Comics Sherpa because it seemed to me to be the best of all possible worlds. Whether some contributors thought it was a way of making contacts in the syndicates or not wasn’t the point – what CS does, at worst, is shows a beginning cartoonist how difficult making a strip is day-in, day-out, and allows them to progress, or not, as the case may be.

    The only thing that CS can’t teach the would-be full-time pro’ is how cat-lady crazy the job makes you over time. And doesn’t really introduce anyone to the sort of cartoon-think that cartoonists develop (you can read about that creative process in the excellent review of Lynda Barry’s book ‘What it is’ on the Forbidden Planet International Blog, by Rod McKie – plug, plug). I think whenever we had big debates about the model we focused on everything except the strange psychology of people who turn up at Wakes with a pencil and a notepad in case the muse whispers in their lughole during the Eulogy.

    For instance, I’ve been secretly working on a strip for, I don’t know, 10 years. What I like to do to scupper its progress is to have some great ideas for other strips while I’m working on it, so I have to put it away -that way it can never be rejected by anyone and it can never dissapoint me.

  125. “That said, if you can document that you have editors ready, willing and able to sign a contract to buy your strip, you should put together a list of contact names with your submission and send it to the syndicates. Itâ??s nice to start out with a big initial client list.”

    Nice idea, but when you think of the ramifications, not feasible. Two syndicates wanted a loose “development” relationship, whereas I felt I had taken a lot of time to develop the strip already and wanted to go right away.

    Not that I was against change or further development (which would be inevitable), but I wanted to do it as part of an ongoing operation, not nannied along like a five year-old, and coerced into making changes I disagreed with.

    I’m pretty sure that supplying names of potential buyers to justify having my strip picked up and sold immediately would be seen as insolence by an exec who had previously (a) rejected it or (b) proposed changes .

  126. Amy Lago did such a great job helping to develop and launch some really great features during her time at United. For a time, I thought United was the syndicate with the best eye for fresh young talent. Universal seems to be the syndicate with that distinction now, although pound for pound, I think WPWG has a stellar cast of comics and cartoonists.

    I haven’t submitted to the syndies in 4 years, but my last submission got a very kind and encouraging personally written letter from Amy that I still have. I was thrilled that an editor took the time to actually read and respond to my submission, which I can now admit years later, was probably not worth the time it took her to read. But I’m glad she did. She kept me going. Jay Kennedy did the same thing…and that submission was even worse!

    Credit to them. Good people…

  127. David Stanford, aide de sherpa here. Iâ??m on vacation out in the Burning West, and just got word of this lively conversation. The fam is going to see GET SMART shortly, so Iâ??ll keep this short, but I wanted to weigh in at least briefly. Iâ??ve absorbed a rough sense of the talk flow here, and only want to add a couple of observations:

    Sherpa is a lot of things, and only one of them is an â??incubatorâ? hoping to attract and encourage strips that Universal may pick up for print syndication.

    It is also something in and off itself, a unique crossroads out in the cartoon universe where a wide and unpredictable variety of creators cross paths, sharing their work for a while before (often) moving on to other vectors. I read every strip on the site (not daily, but I do) and it was interesting how, as the site got going, I realized that I had come to enjoy reading Sherpa more than reading the comics page. I was surprised more often. I found myself caught up in each creatorâ??s struggle to manifest their vision — whether they were successful or not. I find the process itself compelling. (But then, Iâ??m an editor — 20 years in trade book publishing, ten with uclick/sherpa — so thatâ??s what interests me.)

    I do think the discipline of the deadline (even when self-imposed) is one of the best things we offer. Whether you are committing to 2x or 5x weekly, once you strap on that harness and pull the big plow, you quickly know a whole lot more of what syndication entails. And I think for a lot of people who have â??I want to do a stripâ? burning in their blood, this is very useful.

    In terms of quality, in an essay on the fellowship of writers, Ken Kesey pointed out that itâ??s just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book, and that all work honors all writers and the common enterprise. For me, thatâ??s the spirit in which Sherpa was created, and explains perhaps the pleasure I take in it.

    Yes, I love it when really strong work shows up (and Universal making a print deal for ARGYLE SWEATER was a kind of circle-completer to be sure) but I personally enjoy reading work that is not yet at a professional level, and may never make it to that point, with an attitude of â??What is this person trying to achieve, and how can they do it better?â? I always hope that others are reading with that same mindset, as a way to learn from other peopleâ??s work and even to have some hand in helping them. The feedback option lets you weigh in when you see a way for someone to try something different or improve their work. When somebody does get better, either gradually or in some sudden shift, itâ??s a pleasure to see.

    Getting strips into print is not the be-all of Sherpa. We have made online syndication deals with creators that Universal did not feel strongly enough to pursue. As John Glynn noted above, he follows a certain number of strips closely — the ones that he thinks are most likely to possibly evolve to interest him for print. I know that other syndicates keep the same eye out on Sherpa. But Sherpa and uclick (the larger online company, also part of AMU, as is Universal) are pursuing other ends as well. We can make an online syndication deal with a feature that has an eccentric or oversized format, for example, which at this point would be hard for a print syndicate to touch. And Sherpa itself, this odd and ever-changing collection of wildly-differing strips, is just there to be Sherpa, to be one of zillions of places you can read cartoons and comics.

    The web has blown open the universe of possibilities for cartoonists way beyond what xeroxed zines ever offered. On the other hand (as someone above pointed out) running a web site oneself entails a lot of effort, a good deal of which includes the hard work of getting people to come to it. Sherpa is an easier way for creators to put their work in front of an online audience. Itâ??s completely self-run. You post your work as often or as seldom as you want. Some people just use the site as a somewhat static showcase with which to solicit commercial work. Some post constantly and consistently. Others sporadically. Even rarely. And whatever works for the creator is fine with us. If putting a drawing up once in a while is what you do, thatâ??s AOK. Why wouldnâ??t it be?

    I admit that I donâ??t really understand the hostility of some to Sherpa, and surmise that it may be based on a critique of what it is not. It is what it is. It isnâ??t claiming that itâ??s going to get your work syndicated. And it isnâ??t a big moneymaker, thatâ??s for sure. But a lot of good has spun off of it, in a wide variety of ways.

    Yes, some Creators that have found it a stepping stone: The list of features that have been picked up for online syndication is longer than anyone mentioned here, but if I try to do it from memory Iâ??ll goof it up and forget someone. Itâ??s clear that Sherpa is on the radar of syndicate editors, and not just the ones down the hall from us.

    But aside from that aspect thereâ??s a lot of other stuff going on via the site — for instance personal connections and feedback and friendships among Sherpa creators. And I have certainly benefited personally from many email friendships with toonists. Has there always been a long list of site features weâ??d like to add, and ways weâ??d like to improve? Of course. Don’t get me started.

    Okay, Iâ??ve written more than I meant to, yet barely begun. Iâ??ll be on Comics Coast to Coast soon and will have a chance to ponder Sherpa further in conversation with those worthy guys — who, by the way, I only got to know thanks to Sherpa.

  128. David,

    Thanks so much for weighing in here. You mentioned the feedback option on Sherpa, which is probably one of it’s best assets. But it’s also one of it’s LEAST used assets. I’m only a 1x weeker, but I definately get traffic through Sherpa and one glance at my Sherpa strip stats confirms that, plus a good number of email subscriptions. However, all that being said, in my time on Sherpa I’ve gotten a grand total of ONE user feedback notice. I think more interactivity and promotion of the feedback option would go a long way for authors like myself wondering just what people are thinking out there.

  129. Forget the ‘stache of John Oates, how about the star crossed ‘stache of Jason Giambi? THAT ‘stache is taking on a life of it’s own! It’s NY’s biggest star right now. It’s a phenom, maybe the best ‘stache this side of Burt Reynold’s…

    ..and that’s coming from a Sox fan!

  130. can somebody tell me what “online syndication” with say gocomics or REALLY means?? in my view you get your strip on their site, a cut of the money of the advertising and also have to SHARE the limited number of pageviews of an average reader with all the other features………or you can just make your own site and get more money, more views….isn’t that “online syndication” too??

  131. Wow. A little late to this discussion of CS, I think any outlet that allows distribution of this medium should be welcomed. Sure they’re bad business built around distribution, but the market will decide what languishes and what flourishes. I think all the advice given above is valid, and a savvy business is able to change the way it does business to accommodate the medium. If they don’t want to change, or unable to, then the market decides their fate.

    But anyway, I wanted to post my findings on this J.Stache animation. J.G. Moore may have been right when he said the future is in limited animated content.

    The animators of the J.Stache show were at MetroCon this past weekend and this show was FUNNY. Very different. Not standard crappy Adult Swim animation either (although it could flourish on that network). It had John Oates playing himself, and he was a good voice actor! Dave Attell was as dirty and raunchy as ever, it’s a combination that was quite strange. But it worked.

    As I was saying the animation was a bit limited, but the animators, a group called “Fates” I think, were first to admit it. They seemed to be humble guys, like most of us cartoonists, that had a great time being given an opportunity to do something different. This animation style still, to the average viewer will be welcomed- actually I can see critics probably calling it “groundbreaking” just because it embraced some Japanimation style elements without looking like Americans trying to copy it.

    All in all, it was funny. Period. They didn’t say which network is going to carry this show, I don’t believe it has a sponsor yet, but whoever does greenlight it is going to have a hit.

    I’m not much of a Hall&Oates fan, I hate 80’s music honestly, but after seeing this show this weekend I’m going to try out at least a greatest hits disc. 🙂

Comments are closed.