Spectickles a Victim of Papers’ Sameness

Spectickles by Bill Abbott is one example of many comics taking a beating due to large newspaper owners demanding all the papers in their group run a unified comics page.

When Lee Enterprises ordered all their newspapers to run the same ten comics last September the Spectickles panel was forced out of The Buffalo News, possibly the biggest paper carrying the comic.

Then, a month later, Canada’s Postmedia did the same, resulting in Spectickles losing The Ottawa Citizen.

A couple years ago the McClatchy group consolidated all their funny pages effectively shutting out Spectickles to any editor that would want to run it.

And while a couple of newspapers have signed on to the Creators Syndicate online platform the majority have signed on with Andrews McMeel or King Features (or both) for their online and e-edtion comics.

Last year’s actions by The Buffalo News and The Ottawa Citizen had repercussions. Spectickles, like most comic strips, occasionally went into rerun status to give the cartoonist a short vacation. But this year it has been different. So far Spectickles has had 26 weeks of new material and 26 weeks of rerun material.

The Daily Cartoonist reached out to Bill Abbott and he kindly responded:

[S]yndication in its traditional form as a viable business model for cartoonists is in rough shape. Unless you’re distributed by Lee or Gannett or the like, the likelihood of any meaningful distribution among newspapers in the U.S. and Canada is very low. Spectickles thus far hasn’t been among those included in the larger package distribution deals and I’m unaware of evidence that it will.

         It’s been such a privilege to have been able to work with Creators Syndicate and I’m grateful for all they’ve done to promote Spectickles. Truthfully, we’re approaching a tipping point in the life of my cartoon where time expended in creating the work is exceeding the returns it provides to me and my family. And that’s a tough thing to come to grips with after decades of passionate effort to produce the best work I had in me.

Bill continues with his intention to continue cartooning though possibly at a slower rate:

However unlikely, it’s always possible lightning will strike and Spectickles will enjoy greater distribution – there’s nothing I’d like more. But if it doesn’t happen, I’ve had a terrific run and there’s a great group on social media that’s been faithfully following for a long time and continues to grow – around 81,000 thus far on Facebook. My rate of production has certainly decreased but I don’t see it ever completely stopping while I retain the ability to produce.

You can follow Bill on his Facebook page.

all cartoons and images © Bill Abbott

6 thoughts on “Spectickles a Victim of Papers’ Sameness

  1. Spectacles is one of my favorite comic strips. I don’t mind the reruns. They’re still funny. Thank you for keeping at it.

  2. Spectacles is one of the best comics out there! It is a fresh new outlook at life today, and I love it!

    All the best to Bill Abbott, and I hope that somehow he will be able to find a way to keep making me laugh. I admire the hell out of you Bill.

  3. Love the Spectickles cartoon. I know I’ll get at least one smile for the day as soon as I see it on Facebook. All the best to you and your family.

  4. I have been a fan of Spectickles for too many years to remember. Mr. Abbott is very imaginative and delivers a funny comic daily. Funny is the key word. Most of the cartoons published in today’s comic pages are lackluster and unimaginative. When I was a newspaper reader I would turn to the cartoon page and never so much as crack a smile. With Spectickles I am always smiling and occasionally find myself laughing out loud. It is a shame today’s syndication of newspapers is ruled by people who do not read the comics they carry and fail to see the loss they face by excluding Spectickles.

  5. I have been a fan for many years now. The cartoons never fail to leave me smiling. May Bill cartoon for many years to come and may the large papers realise just what they are missing.

  6. I’ve been a loyal follower for years. I’d follow him anywhere, especially if he rocked the chocolate chip camouflage!!!

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