Editorial cartoonist Clay Jones has announced that he’s starting up his own syndicate to sell his editorial cartoons. The decision also cuts his syndication relationship with Creators where he’s been represented since 2000. Despite good relations with the syndicate, Clay’s reason for striking it out on his own are financial.
In an email he tells me:
You don’t make a lot of money in syndication. Everybody’s charging pennies for it. There’s a lot of competition and we’re all packaged like happy meals. I know I can make more on my own, and without options of working for a newspaper and being a cartoonist is what I’m supposed to be, I think self-syndication is the way for me to control most of my own fate.
Clay says he was self-syndicated in the 1990’s in Mississippi, so this isn’t a new thing for him.
3 thoughts on “Clay Jones leaves Creators; begins self-syndication”
I read somewhere recently (sorry I can’t remember where) that syndicate packages are pretty pricey for newspapers these days, but here Clay says “Everybody?s charging pennies for it.” A disconnect I don’t understand, unless it’s that the syndicates charge a lot but pay the cartoonists a pittance?
I’ve submitted numerous strips to the syndies over the years, but I could never really get on board with the business model. I’m sure it would be different if they’d ever bought any of them!
No, Clay’s right. Syndicates have been in a race to the bottom on pricing for the past several years. There have been several articles in Editor and Publisher about it. Perhaps from the newspapers’ point of view the packages are pricey because they’re hemorrhaging money and aggressively cutting costs themselves.
Both respondents conflate syndicated editorial cartoons with comic strips. While neither is likely to make you rich, editorial cartoonists are usually packaged by syndicates with other editorial cartoonist, making each individual’s slice of the pie much smaller. Traditionally, it didn’t matter so much, since their primary income came from the papers that employed them.
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