Success in Comics seminar notes: Cam Millward

Cam Millward was the final speaker on the first day of the Success in Comics seminar in Las Vegas. Cam founded Canwest Editorial Services, one of the first pagination services for newspapers. Cam gave the audience a peak into the some of the layers of production that goes into getting comics from the cartoonist to the reader – which is much more complicated than one would expect. Cam explained that cartoons go to the syndicate for review/edit and then are pushed to an FTP (file transfer protocol) server where they are pulled from pagination services (or directly by newspapers who do their own pagination), then colored (if need be), paginated, and sent to the newspaper for printing.

Cam is highly supportive of self-syndicated cartoons, but if a self-syndicated artists wants to get into the game, they’ve got to work like a syndicate to fit into this complex system of getting comics to the readers. He advocates that each artist maintain their own FTP site where pagination service companies can easily pull down the latest cartoons. Files have to be named with a particular naming convention to work in with the automation software they use and he also advocates that artists work 30 days ahead and always be available by email or phone if there is an issue with a cartoon at the last moment. When a comic is missing or late, he can always call directly to the syndicate and get the cartoon sent right over, but with self-syndicates he has to track down the artist. Other suggestions include doing the coloring yourself if color consistency is important to the artist, otherwise with three different pagination services doing coloring, often the coloring is different from paper to paper depending on who which service they use.

Correction: Cam wasn’t the one who founded Canwest Editorial Services, he was one of the first employees hired by Alex Beer who started up Canwest Editorial Services Division. The pagination division was given to Cam to start up.