Success in Comics: Pickles creator Brian Crane

Brian Crane was the last speaker on Saturday. He’s the creator of the comic Pickles which is now in 800 newspapers. His comic launched with only 24 newspapers and was told by his syndicate that he might even get up to 50. I’ve met Brian before this seminar and despite the accomplishment of being in 800 newspapers and being nominated by the National Cartoonist Society for their Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, he’s one of the most humblest and kindest men in the business.

A few of my notes:

  • Started his presentation showing early childhood sketches and then early sketches of characters as he tried to find a strip
  • Shows early sketches of his characters Earl and Opal
  • Showed copies of rejection letters from syndicates.
  • After just about every syndicate had turned him away, he about gave up, but it his wife urged him to send it to Washington Post Writers Group – which picked him up
  • Has a great relationship with WPWG. They voluntarily raised his percent of each sale
  • Other syndicates have approached trying to convince him of switching. Brian responded, “I’ll stick with the one that brought me to the dance.”
  • Talks about not liking to do the coloring. Hired his daughter for the dailies and another artist for Sundays
  • Asked why his characters don’t have eyes. “Eyes are the most expressive parts of the face and I’m giving that up, but it’s just a personal preference.”
  • Asked why the name Pickles. Several reasons: It was the last name of the characters, it was close to Peanuts, really thought the syndicate was change it anyway, pickle has double meaning “getting yourself into a pickle.”
  • Asked if he drew any other comics before Pickles. Answer: Pickles is the first and last one he’ll do. “I’m a one idea guy, I guess”.

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