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.