Success in cartooning speaker: Amy Lago of Washington Post News Service

Amy Lago is the comics editor at Washington Post News Service (previously Washington Post Writers Group). She’s one of the best in the business. She walked through the stuff you can’t put in your comics if you’re publishing in newspapers.


  • Presentation title: How to succeed in comics without really trying
  • Newspapers have a lot of preconceived ideas such as:
    • You can’t mention sex or the word sex
    • Or condoms (and other paraphernalia)
    • Or “shit”
  • Donna Lewis’s strip Reply All. Last year, due to the skyrocketing popularity of single panel Reply All material, WPNS is syndicating a single panel version of Reply All called Reply All Lite
  • Some phrases are no longer vulgar in 2013 (e.g. “bite me”), but historically they were vulgar. Still can?t use them in newspapers
  • Know your readership. Sometimes they won’t run stuff because their local sensibilities
  • With issues of taste, you have to think ahead. Humor has to come from the truth – but sometimes the truth does hurt. Gotta walk that line.
  • Humor is based on experience. It comes from within. Candorville is a political strip at times. Darrin Bell is African American and was deeply affected by TreyVon killing. Darrin showed the Candorville original script to Amy who suggested that he avoid just rehash the events.
  • Also of concern was the fact that Candorville runs in Tampa. Amy contacted the editor to get buy in.
  • Darrin’s treatment of the TreyVon case touched a lot of readers.
  • Study Reply All on Facebook to see an effective use of social media to build a following and fan base.
  • Question from audience: What are syndicates looking for right now? Answer: Funny. Has to be funny.
  • Newspaper editors don’t want to change the comics page (or even read it). Cartoonists are the best advocates.
  • Question from audience: What was the worst submission ever received? Answer: A submission where the main character was a booger.

3 thoughts on “Success in cartooning speaker: Amy Lago of Washington Post News Service

  1. I couldn’t find Reply All on Facebook. The link from Go Comics redirected me back to my own page. Is that some kind of in-joke (surely “Return to Sender”, not “Reply All”)?

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