The Columbia Journalism Review has an interesting article about the future of cartooning. Discussed: The blessing and curse of syndication representation, websites that value cartoons enough to pay decently for them and alternative paths taken by artists in order to make a living.
Cartoons pass quickly around the web. Most cartoonists I spoke with said they’ve never had so many people viewing their work. But popularity doesn’t necessarily pay. Traditionally, cartoonists have had two main paths to solvency: staff jobs-which have been on the verge of extinction for years-and syndication. Syndication companies sell the rights to an artist’s work to publishers in a variety of ways. Individual artists are sometimes offered a la carte (which is most lucrative for the cartoonist), or as part of a package deal that includes the work of many artists. In recent years, individual artists are increasingly being bundled into packages at a discount rate. Using syndication packages and bundles, publishers can have a buffet of cartoons to choose from.
Syndication remains the way most newspapers, their accompanying websites, and other online news outlets obtain cartoon content. But the pay for the artists is decreasing, as found in a recent report from the Herb Block Foundation, entitled, “The Golden Age for Editorial Cartoonists at the Nation’s Newspapers is Over”: