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Chad Carpenter’s Tundra hits 500 newspapers

Chad Carpenter’s Tundra has joined the exclusive club of running in over 500 newspapers. The Anchorage Daily News has a nice write-up of Chad’s early career and success as a popular regional strip in Alaska.

Carpenter graduated from high school in 1985 and considered a career in law enforcement as he bounced among various jobs: night security guard, process server, urinalysis monitor. He spent a short while in Florida where he connected with several professional cartoonists — Jim Davis (“Garfield”), Dik Browne (“Hagar the Horrible”) and Mike Peters (“Mother Goose and Grimm”). They gave him encouragement. Peters told him “Draw what you know,” and he returned home to work up ideas for a strip based on life in Alaska.

In December 1991, the Anchorage Daily News became the first newspaper to pick up the strip. The quirky comic with its cast of slackers thinly disguised as wild animals and regular references to Alaska was popular with readers. But it was hardly a living.

I asked Chad for his thoughts on hitting this milestone. He replied:

I would have to say one of the biggest highlights was joining the NCS back in 2007. Being surrounded by folks I have looked up to and respected since I was a child is still surreal to me. Cartoon greats such as Mike Peters, Stan Goldberg, Mort Walker and Chris Browne, just to name a few, are some of the folks I (and my wife Karen) now cherish dearly. Another wonderful blessing (because of the NCS) has been the opportunity to be a part of the USO trips, traveling with groups of fellow cartoonists to sketch for the troops in places such as San Diego, Washington D.C., Germany and Iraq. Every one of those outings has been an enriching experience I will never forget.

What started out 20 years ago as a way for me to try and avoid a job, has turned into something a lot more difficult and time consuming than I ever could have imagined – and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Hitting 500 is quite the milestone in syndication. Of the 230 or so strips and panels in syndication, I estimate only about 30 are in over 500 papers with only a dozen of those in the 1000+ papers. In an future post, I’ll look at the features that make up the 500+ club.

Community Comments

#1 Nathan Rackley
@ 2:16 pm

That’s quite an exciting accomplishment!

Is there any sort of “master list” that shows how many papers the top cartoon strips are in? I’d love to see exactly what the distribution is like for my favorite cartoonists.

#2 David Jones
@ 2:56 pm

I think that list would be interesting as well. I bet we would be surprised at the low number of papers for some REALLY GOOD strips. As for me, I would be happy with just one paper taking MY strip!!!!!!! I don’t dream big…. I dream the IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!! lol…………

#3 Nathan Rackley
@ 5:20 pm

There are lots of underappreciated nuggets out there on the internet. They’re often overlooked in favor of more popular strips. I’ve also seen a trend for people reading online to gravitate more towards comics that are more in a comic page format than a strip format. Exactly why, I am not certain.

#4 Jimmy Delach
@ 7:30 pm

Obviously the following 500-club members are (guessing): Zits, Blondie, Pearls Before Swine, Classic Peanuts, For Better Or For Worse, The Family Circus, Garfield, Dennis The Menace, Mutts, Jump Start, Beetle Bailey, Baby Blues, Luann, Non Sequitur, Doonesbury, Hagar The Horrible. Can’t think of others right now.

#5 Jimmy Delach
@ 7:31 pm

Oops. Forgot to include Pickles in the 500 club. Also Dilbert.

#6 Karl Dixon
@ 5:23 am

So good to see strips are still surviving in these desperate times.

Three cheers for Tundra

#7 Tom Stemmle
@ 7:07 am

Congratulation, Chad! So glad to see you made The 500 Club! Your work is really funny and you deserve it!

#8 Doug Bratton
@ 7:37 am

Congratulations to Chad and Bill – quite a milestone, well-deserved and well-earned.

@ 8:58 am

So glad to hear…it’s a great strip.

#10 Rich Diesslin
@ 12:14 pm

Congrats to Chad! Well earned and well deserved!

#11 donna lewis
@ 12:17 pm

Wow. And Yay for Tundra.

#12 Daniel Boris
@ 12:25 pm

Awesome! Congrats, Chad!
(And Bill Kellogg!)

#13 John Read
@ 6:24 pm

And it should be noted that Chad has reached this milestone despite his strip/panel not being syndicated (in the U.S.) by one of the big syndicates. Chad’s cartooning talent makes the strip stand out, but Bill Kellogg’s marketing savvy has gotten “Tundra” in so many papers.

#14 Darryl Heine
@ 10:09 pm

The Chicago Tribune had only 2 runs of Tundra on Sundays from October 2008 to March 2009 and then from Spring to Summer 2010.

Chicago and New York are not in the 500 Tundra strip mark currently.

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