Tall Tale Radio on GoComics: Sandra Bell Lundy (And a couple thoughts from Anne)
Tall Tale Radio on GoComics and listen to part 1 of his chat with Between Friends creator Sandra Bell Lundy. It's about 30 minutes long.
Done? Alrighty then - I'd like to visit a couple of points so spoiler alert if you didn't go listen:
Every once in a while a comic artist gets a syndication deal right out of the box but it's hardly typical. John's journey to syndication with Edison took 14 years and involved multiple strip ideas. (And even more multiple rejection letters.) Sandra's path took her a while as well (thankfully not 14 years) and her description of the meanderings her career took are well worth hearing. I especially liked hearing her talk about the time she "cold called" the Editor of the Toronto Star. I've read about it on her blog before but it has a different resonance when you hear her tell it in person.
Sandra also takes some time to talk about a mentoring phone call she got from Lynn Johnston (hilarious set up for this call). I mention it because one of the things I have been most impressed by is how generous cartoonists are to "fans and up and comers".
When I was 20 I wrote to Berke Breathed. I had the nerve to suggest that he market his books and plushies etc. on college campuses since he had so many fans there. (Duh! Did I honestly think he and his syndicate were unaware of this?) Shock of shocks, he actually wrote back! He was not only gracious and undismissive of my idea, his note was funny as well. (This note is saved carefully in a shoebox that has been archived less carefully in that I can't remember where it is. But I know it's somewhere!)
Later, when John began pursuing syndication and it didn't seem to be happening I wrote Cathy Guisewite for advice. Again, shockingly, she wrote back with some great suggestions.
Fast forward to 2005 when John got his syndication contract - we had no idea what kind of lawyer should be reviewing an intellectual property contract. (Although we were pretty sure the neighborhood ambulance chaser was NOT the right choice.) I wrote Lynn Johnston - again, completely out of the blue, never met her - and asked for help and advice. She called John and talked to him for over an hour - going so far as to give him the name of her lawyer - and also called me and gave me about 25 minutes of her time.
To be fair, I don't think you can expect this kind of response every time you contact a comic artist. Especially if you are writing them for an autograph you plan to turn around and sell on ebay. The internet has made it too easy for every Tom, Dick, and Harry to grab an email address and write to a cartoonist. When I was writing you had to go to a lot of trouble to find a syndicate address for the artist and then hope your note would be forwarded into the right hands.
Sandra also talks about her experiences with a less than professional - can we say shady? - syndicate. A cautionary tale for all aspiring creatives. Don't just listen to it - take notes so you can remind yourself what to do if you find yourself in a similar situation.
And there is some terrific stuff about Jay Kennedy.
So, if you ignored my recommendation at the top of the page, what are you waiting for? Go Listen!!
PS. I'm fairly sure Sandra was peeking in my windows when she wrote this one: