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News Briefs for December 17, 2008

» Clear Blue Water creator Karen Montague-Reyes, continues writing on her blog things she learned while her strip was in syndication. Her latest post includes an important lesson on word count. Because her strip didn’t appear in her local paper, a friend sent her a months worth of tear sheets so she could see how her strip stood next to others.

» Austrialian cartoonist Jon Kudelka has a new exhibit of his work.

Emmy Award-winning TV writer/producer Tom Gammill who has written for Seinfeld, The Critic and The Wonder Years has launched a thrice weekly comic on Gocomics.com called The Doozies.

» Comic Riff blogger Mike Cavna interviews Candorville creator Darrin Bell.

» And lastly, I’ve been avoiding writing about the woes of the newspaper industry. A guy can only take so much. The Association of Canadian Editorial Cartoonist blog has a round up of very depressing, the end is near, articles. Make sure you take your prozac before reading.

Community Comments

#1 Rick Stromoski
December/17/2008
@ 3:46 pm

>>>I made a few changes that vastly improved the look of my strip. As Iâ??ve mentioned before, I cut my words to 70 maximum on dailies ….

Bbbbwbwbwbwbwbwbrrrrrrwhat? 70 words?!!!…per daily?!!! Holy war and peace batman!!!

#2 Wiley Miller
December/17/2008
@ 5:15 pm

I didn’t know you could fit 70 words in a daily comic strip and have it be readable, even without any artwork in it.

#3 Bill Hinds
December/17/2008
@ 5:32 pm

You must never see Tank.
http://tinyurl.com/4nh379

#4 Mike Lester
December/17/2008
@ 5:47 pm

Slightly diff. topic but same premise: This Toles cartoon ran in the ATL.Journal Const. editorial page today no larger than 3 inches wide making each panel aprox. 1.5 inches wide. And the AJC wonders why they’re as irrelevant as Tara.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinions/cartoonsandvideos/toles_main.html?name=Toles&date=12152008

#5 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
December/17/2008
@ 5:55 pm

To follow up on the ACEC jeremiad, the American Society of Newspaper Editors ( ASNE ) is proposing to changing their name to the American Society of News Editors ( thus keeping the acronym ). Where they will br EMPLOYED is anyone’s guess!

#6 D.D.Degg
December/17/2008
@ 6:17 pm

Terri Libenson’s The Pajama Diaries also seems to regularly go over 70 words per daily.
http://www.timesunion.com/comics/?feature_id=Pajama&feature_date=2008-12-17

#7 Garey Mckee
December/18/2008
@ 12:02 am

This is a great example of the limits of space that becomes one of the defining disciplines of the medium. 70 words seems like an awful lot.

Usually, wordy strips tend to be under focused. If you’re writing a strip and you find it is getting too wordy it’s a sure sign that the idea you are trying to convey is not appropriate for a comic strip format and you need to go back and rethink how you are presenting your material without over writing it.

When I see a cluttered wordy strip or an obviously over written strip I don’t even bother to read it.

#8 Phil Wohlrab
December/18/2008
@ 9:15 am

70 Words? That’s what happens when art doesn’t tell a story. You squeeze two heads at the bottom of a cartoon panel and flood the rest of it with words. It totally defeats the purpose. Why not just write a novel? And ummm, why continue something post syndication?

#9 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 9:30 am

Those who think it is easy to get it under 70 words, actually try doing a strip day in and day out. It isn’t easy, unless you are satisfied with the Garfield style of strip.

#10 Wiley Miller
December/18/2008
@ 10:10 am

I didn’t realize I was doing a “Garfield style of strip” for the past 17 years until now.

#11 Josh McDonald
December/18/2008
@ 10:44 am

In a random sampling of pages from some books I have laying around here, I found several instances where Walt Kelly and Bill Watterson exceed 70 words in a four-panel daily strip.

Just offering that up, for what it’s worth…

#12 Scott Metzger
December/18/2008
@ 11:15 am

Regarding Tom Gammill’s strip, The Doozies:

This one cracked me up:
http://www.gocomics.com/thedoozies/2008/12/10/

To the powers that be at GoComics: pick up Imagine This, dang it! I mean, come on.

(I wasn’t paid by Lucas Turnbloom.)

#13 Darrin Bell
December/18/2008
@ 11:34 am

“And ummm, why continue something post syndication?”

Because she likes doing it?

#14 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 12:07 pm

Wiley: News alert. Your panels are one panel gags, even when they run as a strip. Except for your Sundays, you are basically a panel cartoonist. More power to ya!

#15 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 12:12 pm

And Wiley, your Sunday three weeks ago had 78 words. And whatta ya know, it works!

Don’t get your panties in a bunch now!

http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2008/11/30

#16 Josh McDonald
December/18/2008
@ 12:45 pm

Plenty of high-quality strips keep consistently low word counts. As for Wiley’s Sunday strips, that’s an entirely different animal. The discussion began as a question of how many words can comfortably fit in a daily strip.

#17 Phil Wohlrab
December/18/2008
@ 12:45 pm

What I meant was why continue the same strip now that it’s no longer in syndication. ..and i’m sure I’d get the same answer, she likes doing it. There’s nothing wrong with trying new ideas that’s all I’m saying. Unless of course this is part of a plan for a come back to print syndication

#18 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 12:50 pm

Word count depends upon the nature of your material. Doonesbury is a great example of a strip with more words that has been very successful.

I agree wholeheartedly that less words are more desirable when constructing a strip. Just be careful, as there are no concrete rules in cartooning. Perhaps the hardest part of doing a strip is knowing what to leave out.
( I remember Stevie Ray Vaughan saying the same thing about his notes)

#19 Rich Diesslin
December/18/2008
@ 4:20 pm

Steve, I think when Wiley has a one-panel gag, he draws it as a one-panel gag. I would not classify his multi-panel strips as one panel gags stretched out, they are “true” multi-panel. I attempted to break up my single panels into multi-panels for a specific project … and they definitely suffer for it. Wiley’s do not (IMHO). I’m impressed with his ease of doing that. Rhymes with Orange sort of does that, yet it’s more of a single panel (with set-up) in a comic panel space. I find going to multi-panels (from a single panel) difficult at best. Perhaps because I don’t have set characters, but it’s other aspects like timing and set-up (almost a whole mindset difference). On the other hand, to me, really wordy gags challenge my Sesame street attention span! I think of them more as ready for comic books. ;)

#20 Wiley Miller
December/18/2008
@ 5:03 pm

Ok… Steve? You’re taking my posts waaaaaaaay too seriously. Now let’s get back to the subject, which was Karen saying she was going to try to hold BACK on her word count in her DAILIES, DOWN to 70 words… EVERY DAY. That’s what has some of us scratching our heads.

And there’s a reason my feature is called Non Sequitur. One week the dailies will be single panel gags (like this week) and the next week will be recurring character driven, four panel dialogue strips. The Sundays are almost always multi-panel, usually with dialogue, other times pantomime.

So relax. There’s nothing here to get all worked up about.

#21 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 5:38 pm

I’m good!

I just never said anything about you doing a Garfield style strip, I was just merely trying to make a bit of a point and you turned it into a large blunt object.

Actually, I was thinking if I am having an online discussion about the maximum number of words that should be in a comic strip then I am not using my time very wisely.

#22 Wiley Miller
December/18/2008
@ 7:07 pm

Again, you took my posts far too seriously. Do I need to put smiley faces on everything said tongue-in-cheek?

#23 steve skelton
December/18/2008
@ 8:50 pm

Holy Moley! Everything I said was tongue-in-cheek too!!!! You are taking my posts too seriously, Wiley.

#24 Garey Mckee
December/19/2008
@ 1:33 am

:)

There.

#25 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
December/19/2008
@ 2:31 am

Serious cartoonists!

My….what is this world coming to?

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