Success in Comics: Chad Carpenter, Bill Kellogg

The first speakers in the Success in Comics Seminar were also the hosts: Chad Carpenter, creator of Tundra and Bill Kellogg who has sold the strip to over 500 newspapers. Chad first talked about getting into cartooning and how he made the strip a success as regional comic in Alaska and then Bill talked about how he took the strip nationally.Chad:

  • Inspired by Mike Peters advice to “draw what you know”
  • Drew up 36 strips to showed them to the editor at the Anchorage paper
  • Sold the strip to four other papers in Alaska
  • Decided to print his first book a year later. Used Garfield’s books as a model
  • The first book (3,000) print run sold out in three weeks. Reprinted 10,000 more
  • Sold the books at weekend markets, state fairs and Christmas shows. Sold a t-shirt, his book and his calendar
  • Was able to make $40-50k on merchandise
  • First six books were in black and white. Now all books are full color, printed in Korea.
  • Do It Yourself is the way to go for publishing books. Foreign printers allow for greater profit margins.


  • Bill shared examples of information packets along with their initial meager one
  • Bill advocated anyone going into self-syndication get an FTP site. Most all newspapers pull their comics from FTP servers. Not having one will hurt sales efforts
  • There’s a fine line between being persistent and annoying. Be persistent.
  • Try to meet editors personally. Too easy to say no over the phone
  • Sales cycles are long. Can take 1-2 years before a newspaper will pick you up because they first have to drop another beloved strip
  • Modify your pitch depending on paper. Norther papers are pitched a “Tundra is a northern strip” while southern papers are pitched, “it’s an outdoor and nature strip”
  • When pitching to editors, dress like it was an interview.
  • Self syndication killers: spelling errors and regional references
  • Social media is a way to builds fans. Fans buys your merchandise
  • Asked about how declining circulation will affect their business model: Newspapers will be around for a while, but you have think of them as only one of many revenue streams – not the only one

Visit Chad’s Facebook

6 thoughts on “Success in Comics: Chad Carpenter, Bill Kellogg

  1. Alan,
    Thanks much for taking time to write this overview about Bill and Chad’s talks at Success in Comics. For those of us who did not attend, it is much appreciated!

  2. The seminar was jam packed with tons o’ great information for both up and comers in the industry AND we old timers! Thanks, Chad and Bill for a highly informative event! And the black jack and craps were phenomenal! How did you guys do that??

  3. It was a great seminar filled with so much useful information my brain is still twitching and the casual atmosphere seemed to foster camaraderie. I know that Chad and Bill are affecting the industry in a way that is profoundly positive and I can’t recommend their events highly enough.

  4. I ditto that this was a great event, I posted my reasons under the Mark Parisi write up.

    Bill and Chad gave some very practical, usable sales strategies, and brought together some other really knowledgable presenters.

    Thumbs up!

  5. It was a very interesting seminar with useful information about cartoons world and great authors, speakers and people! I went to the seminar from Spain, really it was worth it.

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