Success in cartooning speaker: Tim Brennan

Tim Brennan is a founding partner in Reed Brennan and Associates a pagination and technology company owned by King Features.

  • Got into newspapers in 1968.
  • Tim was part of a project to study effects of information delivered electronically into homes in 1980’s
  • Time ended the study in 1984.
  • Tribune Media Services was formed based on desire to be at front of electronic media delivery.
  • TMS lag time to getting editorial cartoons to papers was 4 days. Tim helped create system to get cartoons next day. But it was expensive and papers didn’t want to pay.
  • Brennan was aware classifieds and TV listings were susceptible to being interrupted by electronics, but TMS didn’t. They shut the electronic delivery program down.
  • Tim took the ideas and started his own company.
  • He wanted to create electronic delivery for syndicates.
  • Paginating comics in those days was messy. He piloted a paginated process with 5 papers. They figured out how to make it easier to get comics into the newspaper
  • A consortium was formed to create a standard for comic pagination. It failed because “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”
  • Tim created a business to paginated for papers. Papers loved it. Syndicates hated it, but syndicates caved because papers demanded the use of the service.
  • The Associated Press tried to do get into the pagination service, but they demanded all the papers use the same comics. RBA was customized to each client.
  • In 1995 color became demanded by papers. RBA looked at coloring comics for customers. Tested software and started coloring comics for their 40 clients.
  • The syndicates did not like the idea of comics being colored and forbad RBA to color their comics, but the papers wanted it and put pressure on the syndicates to allow it.
  • Some cartoonists weren’t on board either. But papers started dropping comics that weren’t in color. Cartoonists relented too
  • RBA ultimately partnered with King Features Syndicate and is now a sister company of KFS
  • RBA went from 40 customers and grew to 237 in 1997
  • They also expanded into delivering editorial content on comics page (puzzles, columns)
  • In 2005 they had 400 daily clients
  • The economics of newspapers require they outsourcing work to those who can do it more cheaply.
  • RBA now does all coloring and distribution for KFS content and handles permissions for reprints, archiving.
  • Archiving is by being done date and will soon be by keyword. Keywords are important for reprint sales
  • Keyword work will start with Family Circus and work down to smaller strips
  • The future of newspapers: weeklies will emerge stronger in the future. They’re buying more content that used to be only going to dailies.

Gotchas for self-syndicators

  • Bad grammar
  • Word omissions
  • Too local or too narrow in references
  • Double entendres
  • Political correctness
  • Repetitive comics
  • Filing late, or not at all due to vacations
  • Prima Donna Syndrome. Insisting on size demands or being late.