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News briefs for November 24, 2009

Comic strips

» The Love is… spoof in an earlier Zits comic continues to prompt letters to the editor both positive and negative regarding the appropriateness of the lil’ nekkid Zit’s characters.

» Julie Larson, creator of “The Dinette Set,” has issues with her syndicate and the internet.

» I haven’t fact checked this one, but Ryan Metlen claims to have signed a syndication contract for his strip Hope and Death. The article that appeared in the Santa Clarita Signal did not distinguish if it was a development contract or syndication contract (or contract for a syndicate’s website.)

Editorial cartoonists

» San Diego Reader writer Don Bauder reports that Times Picayune editorial cartoonist Steve Kelley has filed a motion of reconsideration after losing an earlier lawsuit against the San Diego Union-Tribune for interfering with their editorial cartoonist Steve Breen’s intent to collaborate on a comic strip. Kelley believes the judge did not properly take into account an alleged switch in Breen’s testimony regarding what he remembers having with his employer regarding the strip.

Newspaper industry

» The Associated Press is reporting that newspaper circulations might be worse than most think due to adjustments in auditing rules that allow newspapers to double count subscribers artificially inflating their numbers.

Webcomics

» Calamities of Nature webcomic cartoonist Tony Piro is holding his second annual guest strip contest. The top three guest comics will run in December and win Calamities shwag. Visit Tony for details.

Community Comments

#1 Allan Holtz
November/25/2009
@ 1:00 pm

Sic ’em, Julie, sic ’em! It’s about time syndicated cartoonists grow a backbone and tell their syndicates off for giving the product away free. Blows my mind that both cartoonists and newspaper editors aren’t up in arms about this.

Course Julie hasn’t as much to worry about as some. Those hilarious background gags in Dinette Set are just a grey blur in the online version. Since my local paper doesn’t run her hilarious feature, I buy her reprint books each year. Which, btw, are self-published so she gets all the dough. Good for you Julie!

#2 Allan Holtz
November/25/2009
@ 1:01 pm

Sic ’em, Julie, sic ’em! It’s about time syndicated cartoonists grow a backbone and tell their syndicates off for giving the product away free. Blows my mind that both cartoonists and newspaper editors aren’t up in arms about this.

Course Julie hasn’t as much to worry about as some. Those hilarious background gags in Dinette Set are just a grey blur in the online version. Since my local paper doesn’t run her hilarious feature, I buy her reprint books each year. Which, btw, are self-published so she gets all the dough. Good for you Julie!

#3 julie larson
November/26/2009
@ 8:49 am

Thanks Allan!,

The webcomic cartoonists and the armchair comic ‘experts’ comments are flooding i.
They don’t seem to understand that we are under contract with our syndicates and don’t pick and choose when we want to work and how much compensation we should receive for our work. We work by the rules.

The internet comics are unorganized and many are not for
mainstream readers.The tried and true method of mainstream comics is being Funny, Consistant and Orignal-EVERY DAY.
It also includes creating comics for a WIDE Demographic…not pigeon holing. creating…they’re for All ages, all walks of life, we write about what people can relate to, make them smile and laugh, keeping it clean.

AND ‘SYNDICATED’ cartoonists also self-syndicate. I began writing my comic, Suburban Torture in 1989 and worked hard to sell it to alternative weeklies. After 3 years of sending samples to syndicates, I got picked up by King Features syndicate.

That’s where webcomics fail. Go selfsyndicate themselves to a syndicate. That’s where the top tier comics are.
Webcartoonists’ commenters charge that syndicated cartoonists don’t have much competition…Wrong.
The reason there seems to be not much competition in the newspaper funnies is because those who make it into print have been selected from 7000 cartoonists submitting their cartoon for syndication and only 2 or 3 are picked up a year for syndication.
That’s competition.
Syndicates are selective for a reason.

How many Webcartoonists have been approached by syndicates?

And we don’t all rely on syndicates alone to sell..
There seems to be an assumption that we sit back and expect sales.
I, continue to create promotional sales material on my own, sending material to editors of mainstream and alternative papers.
I selfpublish my books, greeting cards, arrange speaking engagements and booksignings, doing it the ‘oldfashioned’ way-Real Contact with real people-no surfing the internet
blindly throwing my stuff out there hoping to become famous.

Do webcartoonists really think the newspaper will disappear?
It won’t…it will restructure and reboot WITH columnists and cartoonists as part of the traditional newspaper line-up.

I’m fully aware of where SOME cartoons are headed-on the internet, but there will alwyas be a huge group of readers who will continue to read it in print.

I have a big fan base, readers LOVE TDS. ON and Off the Internet.
I have REAL LIVE fans, I communicate with them, I have met so many in person , have had a personal connection with them for years, have made wonderful friends for life… It’s not via the Internet.

Thanks again, Allan

PS….And, YES, the internet police will reign this copyright infringement problem eventually. The FCC has begun it’s work on the problem. The FCC Chairman has said by 2010, copyright protection and compensation for intellectural property will be enforced.

#4 Jon Martin
November/26/2009
@ 8:05 pm

I read some comics in a daily paper today that I liked, and wanted to send them to some friends via email. (The paper was free at a coffee shop, I haven’t bought a paper in years.)

For each separate title I had to hunt and find where they were being hosted online (comics.com? gocomics? in the case of Blondie, an independent site?) and then figure out how in the world to discover the permalink to each individual strip, in case my friends don’t check their email until tomorrow. And of course those links will expire as the content grows older and moves behind a subscription wall.

Do the content owners NOT WANT me to share their comics with my friends? How in the world do they expect their fanbase to grow? They are lucky that I am web-savvy and tenacious enough to figure out how I could share the comics, otherwise I would not have bothered.

Ms. Larson, I hope you find the success you are looking for (and good on you for taking the reins and self-syndicating, self-publishing, etc), but it is time for syndicated folks to stop being afraid of the internet and learn how to make it work for them — by making it work for the READER. The only comics that the new generation will know, and therefore care about, and therefore support are ones that they can access.

#5 chris jacobs
November/27/2009
@ 2:11 pm

cartoonists would rather get paid for their work, which if they’re syndicated, they get tons of exposure.

last time i checked, most people get paid for their work.

#6 Matt Forcum
November/29/2009
@ 7:43 pm

Julie, No one is arguing that you didn’t work hard to get where you are today. And no one is arguing that you don’t still work hard to maintain what you have.

What we are saying is that if you are finding that newspapers are failing you (as clearly you are, otherwise you wouldn’t have participated in that article) Then you should consider other outlets for your work that may prove to be very lucrative as well. The advice that cartoonists have been giving is only meant to help you in these uncertain times.

Oh, and by the way, Webcomics are not all niche comics with limited mainstream appeal that only post occasionally to a group of “imaginary” readers. (as if there is such a thing as a reader who doesn’t exist) Webcomics are just as real as “real comics.” With just as much intrinsic appeal as any newspaper strip might have, produced by artists who work just as hard as you do.

I have a list of comics you should familarize yourself with before you pigeon hole the entire method of distribution These are only a very few of the Funny, Original, and consistent cartoonists with wide, mainstream appeal. (and you might actually like these guys)

http://sheldoncomics.com/
http://pinkertonpark.com/
http://imaginethiscomic.com/
http://www.gocomics.com/rabbitsagainstmagic

And I know you have said that you’ve never heard of Penny Arcade before, and trust me, they will not be your “thing” But it is important to learn a little about them. They are probably the single most successful cartoonists since Watterson. http://penny-arcade.com/

#7 Dan Long
November/29/2009
@ 8:27 pm

Julie said:

“The tried and true method of mainstream comics is being Funny, Consistant and Orignal-EVERY DAY.”

No, the tried and true method is to be bland and safe enough that 5-year-old kids and 85 year-old grandmothers can read it and get the pun without being offended. You really think that even 15% of the comics page is original? Are we looking at the same comics page here?

Julie said:

“It also includes creating comics for a WIDE Demographicâ?¦not pigeon holing. creatingâ?¦theyâ??re for All ages, all walks of life, we write about what people can relate to, make them smile and laugh, keeping it clean.”

You say that as if it’s better than comics targeted to a small demographic. The reason webcomics take off is that they speak to an ignored demographic that newspapers are scared to reach out to because other people will complain. Cyanide and Happiness is funnier than 99% of syndicated comics, but it’s offensive, and newspapers are stuck in 1950 so it would never be syndicated. “Wide-ranging” and “good” are not synonymous, Julie.

Julie said:

“Thatâ??s where webcomics fail. …
Syndicates are selective for a reason.
How many Webcartoonists have been approached by syndicates?”

Who knows? Ted Rall himself said that he fought for The Perry Bible Fellowship to be syndicated, but it didn’t get it, because it’s not bland and safe enough. But again, it is better than 99% of what’s on the comic pages today. Syndicates are selective- they need to find the few authors that are safe and generic enough for all readers while still keeping a bit of humor as well- hard to do. Again, wide-ranging in demographics is not synonymous with “good.” Only “Marketable.”

Julie said:

“Do webcartoonists really think the newspaper will disappear?
It wonâ??tâ?¦it will restructure and reboot WITH columnists and cartoonists as part of the traditional newspaper line-up.”

If only math supported this.

Julie said:

“I have a big fan base, readers LOVE TDS. ON and Off the Internet.
I have REAL LIVE fans, I communicate with them, I have met so many in person , have had a personal connection with them for years, have made wonderful friends for lifeâ?¦ Itâ??s not via the Internet.”

So internet readers aren’t real live fans? Are they corpses who have learned how to operate a computer?

Julie, have you ever been to a Comic Convention, where REAL LIVE people flock to get autographs from their favorite webcomic artists? What do you mean, “It’s not via the internet”? Is internet communication fake? I could say, “I, as an internet comic artist, have REAL LIVE fans- they comment and e-mail me- real people, not via the newspaper.” How does that make sense? Let’s take a look at how many REAL LIVE PEOPLE use the internet vs those who read newspapers.

Webcomics are where people go when their comic doesn’t fit newspapers. Yes, there are bad webcomics, but are there not bad syndicated comics? If you say yes without laughing, I admire you. There are good webcomics, also, that don’t fit the newspaper comics page for various reasons- too raunchy, not safe enough, too niche, or for even a reason as small as space constraints. Your post seems to imply that “syndicated” means “good.” No, it just means it fits what syndicates are looking for.

In summary, get off your high horse.

#8 Matt Forcum
November/29/2009
@ 8:55 pm

I hate to keep bringing up Penny Arcade, but they just had yet another successful expo where well over 60,000 REAL LIFE fans showed up to meet the comic creators and to share in a weekend of fun and fellowship.

That is the kind of thing that the internet can do that I seriously doubt any other form of distribution could ever do for a comic.

#9 Dan Long
November/29/2009
@ 9:00 pm

Matt, those are fans who read on the internet, therefore they are not REAL LIFE fans- they are part of the zombie apocalypse that spends their days searching for brains and their nights surfing the internet, getting in a few laughs from non-syndicated comics that only dead people read before they carry out their zombie plans to take over the world. Living beings only read newspapers. They know not of this newfangled contraption called “the internet.”

#10 Jes Schroeder
November/30/2009
@ 12:20 am

there are hundreds of webcomics out there, some to varying degrees of successfulness. It all depends on how much effort you want to put into making your work actually sell if you’re into the notion of self publishing.

Another successful company and webcomic set is Blind Ferret Entertainment.(http://blindferretentertainment.com/) Randy Waxman and Ryan Sohmer created the group in 2005, a few years after one of Ryan’s comics, Least I Could Do, had been successful in both the web and printed form. Years later, Least I Could Do and another one of their successful comics, Looking For Group, gather flocks of fans to every Con that Ryan and artist Lar DeSouza show up at across the North American Continent (their con schedule is BIG). They sell thousands of copies of their comics in print (the same comics they publish in daily format) and other merchandise that they have on their site. And these people, to my knowledge, work full-time in these occupations.

You see their banners on a ton of other websites, they promote following the artists/writers on their twitter accounts – Lar has a friday night live-stream where he draws bits for the comic and answers questions that viewers ask – at least a hundred folks show up and log into chat, and tons more come in and out during four hours that he does is stream. With these tools, they make the internet work for them.

The times are changing!

#11 Julie Larson
December/6/2009
@ 10:33 am

hop off your soap boxes , time to get on with your own lives….it’s an oxymoron for so many cartoonists to be so caddy and sour. kind of surprised, you’re in the wrong business.
cheer up, do what you try to do as cartoonists;make people laugh.
my beef is my beef alone, so MYOB, Julie Larson

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