I have been in line behind several of these people!!
I was very saddened to read on the Daily Cartoonist that the comic My Cage has been cancelled.
I believe My Cage was the last comic strip launched by King Features that was the under the guidance of the legendary Jay Kennedy. Jay recognized the huge impact the Manga was having and My Cage was the first - and to my knowledge, only - nationally syndicated comic strip to have a Manga influence.
My Cage is a top quality strip that deserved to be in many more papers. I enjoyed Ed's edgy sense of humor and Melissa's beautiful artwork. I will definitely miss reading it on the Dailyink.
Unfortunately, the business of comics has always been a brutal one with a high failure rate and truly wonderful strips often don't make it. The terrific Franklin Fibbs is another comic launched in recent years that should have been much more successful than it was. And, the terrible truth is that the current climate at newspapers makes it even more brutal.
I was asked recently by an industry insider if I would still recommend syndication as a goal for aspiring cartoonists. I answered emphatically yes, which I think surprised him.
My reasons are these:
No matter how grueling the deadlines or how limiting the "g-rated" parameters in which you must write, the experience you gain working with a syndicate and an editor are enormous. Even if your feature doesn't make it, you will learn a tremendous amount about the business that can only be helpful if you decide to head out on your own.
Some syndicates - King is one - pay a minimum royalty starting at launch. This at least gives you some income while you are finding your feet and honing your feature for a broad public appeal.
Syndicates still provide greater exposure for a new comic than it can generate on its own in the internet wilderness. It's all very well and good to paint the next Mona Lisa, but trying to find an audience for it on the internet can be like standing in the middle of the Sahara holding up your painting and saying "Look at this! Look at me!" It's a whole lot easier if you have someone advertising your painting aggressively to art galleries.
Contrary to popular belief, artists no longer sign away their rights to their feature when they become syndicated. John retains full copyright to Edison and all properties that may spring from it. If it is optioned for a movie or anything else, John must be compensated - the money doesn't all go straight to the syndicate.
I'm not saying syndication is for everyone - it is very difficult and can be discouraging and the schedule is grinding. But I think ruling it out as a career option is short sighted.
I wish Ed and Melissa all the best. I hope that, after the dust settles, they remain in the business of producing comics - My Cage or something else. They are both truly talented and bound to be successful.
I am happy to announce that John has joined The Cartoonist Studio and that his page is now up.
There are many cool pictures of John's and other cartoonist's studios, as well as a store, blogs, links, and a page for non-syndicated cartoonists to share their work.
For more information on the site, there is an article on The Daily Cartoonist.
We are very excited to be a part of this dynamic group of cartoonists and are also looking forward to utilizing the store on the site as soon as it is up and running. It will be one of the places you will be able to buy the Edison book when it comes out. (Which we're hoping will be September but might just turn into October.)
I recently posted these on twitter - for you who missed them, here are a couple sneak peaks at the Edison Book:
These are our own personal mock ups - hence the binder clips :-)
The strip in the lower right corner is one that was killed before it could be published. There will be lots of little goodies like that scattered throughout the book.
So we went to see inception last night and now I can have arguments with my teenage sons over the convoluted plot :-)
I really like going to the movie theater. Even though we watch the lion's share of our movies (and our TV too, for that matter) via Netflix, there's still something cool about seeing films on the big screen with surround sound. Especially when it comes to a movie like Inception.
And I've noticed that, bad economy or not, an awful lot of other people are in the theater with us when the movie is decent.
And I've made my peace with the overpriced concessions - I get that this is the primary source of profit for a movie theater - but last night I was ticked. I'm used to the $3 box of candy having far too little candy inside, but last night added insult to injury because the malted milk balls I looked so forward to eating were stale. And I mean stale.
I probably should have complained, but I know I would only be talking to some poor peon who can't do anything about it anyway.
Although, if I had gotten all obnoxious about it, would the concessions guy have dumped popcorn all over the lobby, grabbed a couple of slushies and jumped out of a secret escape hatch?
Remember my prediction about the ipad and comics?
Well, the numbers are starting to come in: http://www.cnn.com/2010/TECH/gaming.gadgets/08/12/go.digital.comics/index.html?hpt=Sbin
John: "What do you think of this Sunday strip - should I go with it?"
Anne: "Absolutely, I think it's hilarious!"
John: "Great! You get to start coloring it tonight, then." (The strip takes place in a grocery store - aisles and aisles of product filled shelves)
Anne: "Forget what I said before - terrible strip - got anything else?"
I know it's only the beginning of August but I'm feeling very pushed into September already. John and I are hoping to take two days this summer with the kids and get our annual hiking/fishing type family trip in.
Yep - you heard right - two days.
Out of the whole summer.
Such is the life of the syndicated cartoonist.
But, to be fair, this has been an unusual summer and is going to be an unusual fall as well with an awful lot of traveling. So many exciting things are on the horizon:
The first Edison Book "The Edison Files: Notes From The Lab" will be coming out shortly - the first proofs look absolutely fabulous!
John has been invited to be part of The Cartoonist Studio - his page should be up soon, details as I have them.
John will be one of the featured speakers at Disney's Toonfest in Marceline Mo the weekend of September 18th - stop by if you're in the area, we may even have the book ready by then.
Edison is also one of the comics in John Read's "One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages" which has started touring and will be at toonfest.
We will be attending what I am sure is going to be a fun filled cartoonist extravaganza in Omaha NE the first weekend in October - It's the NCS North Central Chapter meeting organized by amazing editorial cartoonist Jeff Koterba. (Read his book Inklings - great stuff!) and will include special guest Josh Cooley from Pixar Animation
We will also be attending the Festival of Cartoon Art at OSU the weekend of October 15. This is a not to be missed event that only happens once every three years and rivals the Reuben weekend. There are a number of interesting presentations scheduled including one by Matt Groening of the Simpsons, Futurama, and Life in Hell.
And, lastly but not leastly, the very exciting news that Cathy Guisewite is retiring her strip Cathy starting in October. "Cathy" is in over 1000 papers. Strips with that much real estate don't leave the scene often, so the news is causing quite a stir among cartoonists.
It is a pretty good bet that Cathy and Edison appeal to very different demographics, but there is a small hope that most syndicated strips will at least pick up a paper or two. In what has been a fairly dead market for everyone the past 18 months, it's a ray of sunshine.
John Read's "One Fine Sunday In The Funny Pages" exhibit has started it's tour. Stop number one is in Jackson, Mississippi. Above are a couple of pics. Click here for more photos.
The next stop will be Disney's Toonfest in Marceline, Missouri the week of September 19th.
John (Hambrock) will be one of the guest speakers at this year's toonfest, which means we will get to see the exhibit in person. I can't wait!
You can find more information on the exhibit, as well as a list of the participating cartoonists, over on The Daily Cartoonist. And, if you live anywere near Jackson, you should head over to see this fabulous collection. I don't know that anything like this has ever been done before - don't miss it!
I've gathered together all the strips John did about the oil spill - I've gotten some feedback that people missed a few and would like to be able to read them all - so here they are.
I liked John's decision not to deal with the real situation in the gulf, but to instead create his own spill in the world of Edison. This seems like an especially good decision now that we also have oil spills in Michigan and China.