Roll Of the Dice

26 Feb

I’ve mentioned before in previous post how I have had this feeling that syndication, newspapers and comics in print were a dying breed.  That it was like “the last days of the steam locomotive”.  Well, I’m actually not too sure.  And recently, I’ve felt the desire to become an engineer on one of the last trains out of the station – even if this is the case.

The instant gratification of being online is becoming so old to me, newspapers and magazines (even though I grew up with them) seem to be ‘new technology’ since I have neglected them for a while and have hoarded everything online instead.

I’m all about syndication and getting my work in papers – or if they choose – online.

In fact, I’m working fanatically on some new work that I hope can maybe achieve this.

Here’s the problem though; it seems that getting a syndicated comic strip is all a roll of the dice.  It seems like it does take some luck to become syndicated.

I’ve been studying the past few months what comic strips are currently in the paper.  For one, I can tell you that through my studies (which are not very scientific or anything – usually consisting of a crayon and a sheet of paper), I now believe that currently WRITING is 80% of what is important, and the art is the other 20%.  I hate to say it, but there are a lot of horrible looking comic strips.  I’m not saying I’m the best either – trust me – I know.  However, a lot of the art for syndicated comics these days really isn’t anything ‘special’.

The writing part of the strips is what gets to me.  After studying the current comics, I have NO CLUE what syndicates/newspapers are looking for when it comes to the writing.  Obviously, this is the most important thing, too.  Since the drawing part doesn’t seem to be a big deal now.

The only thing with writing the comics is – they have to be squeaky clean.  Which makes NO sense.

Why are they so worried about the squeaky clean material in comic strips?  Most of the readers of the papers are middle-aged and up.  What?  People in that age bracket cover their eyes if they see anything out of the ordinary in comics?  A comic strip character doing a shot of Jager is going to create a drunk?  Or, a comic character getting a bloody nose will send one to therapy?  Yet, on the front page of the paper, you read about a murder/suicide (followed by some lovely pictures, of course).

I’m not worried about making a gruesome, explicative comic strip – but one of the rules of syndicated cartooning is not to offend anyone, and that just doesn’t make any sense to me when the content of the rest of the paper is offensive to everyone!

And I’m not looking to offend, but that means any comic that is in there has to be cleaner than the Bible – and the Bible talks about death, murder, drinking and all kinds of things.  I don’t get it…

Look, there’s no changes that are taking place with this format, so I can’t complain.  I have to go with the flow.

I’m guessing the fault lies not with the syndicate, but with the papers.  And if papers want younger readers, mix it up a bit.  Get something that can really grasp a younger audience.  And I don’t think you need to be offensive to do that, but just had more variety.

I mean, there are more comic strips from dead or retired cartoonist in the papers than anything fresh!

So, this makes creating a comic for consideration for syndication a difficult task.

I’ve devoted the next four months to this project of mine.  I want syndicated to see if I can do it.  I like the idea that a syndicate takes care of marketing and the business aspect of the art.  Unlike anything web cartoonist or self-publishing can do.  Plus, it has always been the initial goal to be syndicated.

Even if I appeared in one newspaper under a syndicate – heck – I’d take it just for bragging rights.

Like I said, I just want to see if it’s even possible.  It’s such a dice roll.  I have studied the work that’s in the papers, stuff that’s not in the papers, and I’m clueless to what they want.  Sometimes, I think they have a board meeting where they draw a theme out of a hat, and the first cartoonist to send something with that theme wins a syndication deal.  Maybe?

I have some ideas and have been cranking out a ton of material for this project toward syndication, so we’ll see.  Either way, I’ve got other outlets of my work, so I’m not banking on this.  But, I would love to see if I can break the code.  I know there’s “something” in there that makes the editors pick up a strip.  I just haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s like a big Sudoku game.

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6 Responses to “Roll Of the Dice”

  1. Aaron Burkett February 27, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    Nate,
    I totally agree with your point about how horrible the art is in most cartoons today. Newspapers are still better than the cartoons on TV by far. It seems like most of the animated series on TV now are either computer generated, or look like a bunch of ADD 1st graders got loaded up on sugar and were set loose in the studio with a jumbo box of crayons. My girls watch shows like Chowder and Flapjack and I make them turn them off. Maybe I’m a purist, but the art has to be interesting as well as the witty banter for a cartoon to be funny. It seems to me that the going standard for writing in cartoons today is something like the Pixar model where some of the jokes everybody gets, but a lot of them fly right over the kids’ heads and only the parents get them. Maybe that’s something to try out.

    • Nate Fakes March 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

      I agree. I’m not knocking down any style that cartoonist use – it just doesn’t seem to be like it used to though. I’ve seen stick figures make it as a successful comic!

      It used to be art was 50 percent, and then writing was 50 percent. Visuals completed the comic. Doesn’t seem so much anymore (in my opinion).

      I agree with the Pixar model. Seems to work!

  2. George March 3, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Newspaper comics always stymie me because they want to stay frozen in a time that is no longer here. I don’t know how people can complain about any comic strip’s material when, as you said, the front page is full of the oddest, most sadistic crimes imaginable.

    It would be sad if television remained that way and never put anything out that didn’t have 1950’s values. We wouldn’t have had any Seinfeld, Oz, Lost, The Office, or any of the shows that everyone seems to love.

    I wish you luck as you try to get syndicated. I hope you make it. 🙂

    • Nate Fakes March 3, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

      I really wish they would change as well! It’s so stupid. (Sigh) and newspapers wonder why younger crowds don’t read the paper. Comics helped generate interest in younger readers, and now they’re just kicking themselves while their down since newspapers aren’t doing well. TRY SPRUCING THEM UP A BIT WITH NEW COMICS! Duh! (Okay, glad I got that out of my system.)

      Thanks for the support, George! As I mentioned, I’m not counting on anything, but it’s going to be fun trying. I’m just pretty clueless why they say “yes” to some of the material they syndicate. We’ll see 🙂

  3. bearmancartoons March 9, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    You know it helps when you tell people you have moved instead of your ISP showing me crap out screens..haha

    • Nate Fakes March 9, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

      I know, I know….I’ve been hiding out! Or you’re just not on Facebook.

      Help spread the stupidity, er – word! I just recently made the switch. I was letting my other one run out.

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