Friday, April 29, 2016

Comic Submissions-Part V

Were Almost Done!
So this is week five---the penultimate post in a six part journey through the writing and drawing of a comic submission to the big five US syndicates.

There really isn't much to report on the process this week. To be honest with you, if I haven't finalized the strip or panel's direction by week five then I probably shouldn't be sending it out.

So in this post I'll talk a little about the art and mind set of syndication.

I first started submitting comic strips to the US syndicates back in the 1980's. Cartooning and the comic strips lived in a completely different landscape back then.

Now you may be thinking. 1980's? And he still hasn't made it? I think it's time to hang up the dream old chap.

But the truth is that I really wasn't good enough in those days; I had a modicum of talent and a lot to learn; and anyway, my work was taking me in a different direction back then---namely that of comics---and I've spent the intervening twenty years working in and publishing for comic book companies and newspapers as an editorial cartoonist. So I put the syndication dream up on the shelf with a note to come back when I felt ready to send something worth reading out.

That time has now arrived. Well in my mind it has. A little later than most admittedly, but it has arrived and I am all revved up and ready to embrace the challenge.

When I first started sending my ideas out back in the 80's, the world of syndication was a different landscape. Comics were big, there were more newspapers, the Internet was still a confusing blip on the ether hazed horizon. The top cartoonists were earning millions of dollars a year; they employed teams of artists and writers, their comics became an industry as they flew around the world on business and golfing trips in their private jets.

But things have changed.

Sure the big hitters are still bringing in eye watering incomes, but they are so much fewer and even farther between. Nowadays you are more likely to find the syndicated cartoonist working out of a spare bedroom in his or her modest little town house, instead of the 40 acre studios and ranches they worked out of and owned in the 80's and 90's.

But cartooning isn't now and never has been about the money. Charles Schulz once said that he would draw cartoons even if no one ever saw them. Now that is probably easy say considering he was the biggest of the cartooning big hitters with an annual turnover that could fund a decent sized economy. But here's the thing: I truly believe it wasn't about the money. For him and many like him it never was. How else can you explain the proliferation of cartoonists working for potentially nothing on the net?

No, cartooning should always be about the love for the art and the desire to create something lasting that will both entertain and touch people's lives in one way or another. The money should never be the driving force. Art for art's sake. I know it's an old phrase but in the world of syndicated cartoons, it's the only maxim you can work from. Because if you do it just for the money, you may not come out the other side with your marbles intact.

Now don't get me wrong. If I was lucky enough to beat the huge odds (at present day figures, 30,000 hopefuls chasing one to two contracts a year) and land a syndicate contract, and then succeed where so many have failed and have a thousand plus subscribing newspapers to my strip, and have a million dollar income, then I am not going to be saying 'Take the money; feed the poor, I just was to draw and live in poverty for my art' To hell with that. I'll take the money and love life a little more. I don't embrace poverty, I'm just saying don't be surprised if 'it' embraces you. Creating a comic strip for syndication or the net must first and foremost be all about the love of cartooning.

One a final point. You must never become disillusioned and never stop trying. When you have completed a package and sent it off, start work on another one. This doesn't say you have no faith in the one you've just dispatched, it's just a way I have found to keep the hope alive and the odds my favour: the more I produce, the more they see my name. And the more they recognise my work the more likely they are to pay it even closer attention. And that, my friends, is more then half the battle.

Okay, little sermon over with. Now back to the silliness with this weeks four of the best and my little commentaries on them.

Don't forget to come back next week when I publish all thirty strips and give a little juicy insider hint and my next proposed feature. One that I hope to be starting within the next few weeks.
When I was a child I knew a little old lady who had one of the earlier versions of these chairs---you know, the variety that slowly tilts until the owner is in enough of a standing position to get up. I can also remember silently wondering how far I could flip her if there was a way of speeding the mechanism up. My parents, for their part, would always remove me from a room if I was smiling to myself and looking like I was getting ideas...well in this strip, poor Granny Apple get the business end of my imagination.

If you've ever brought food on the beach front and decided to eat it while looking wistfully out to sea you'll know exactly where I'm coming from with this one. I've lost track of the times I've been mugged by seagulls who are after my food. Eventually after a lot of screaming and flapping (mainly from me) I give in and run off leaving the bird to claim a well earned meal...%&$£%& birds, I hope their arteries harden!

What can I say other than, I have often wondered about this.

I came from the generation that saw the first Jaws movie; I was also a member of my county swimming club and what you see here was a real fear for not only myself but a lot of other people. The amount of times there was pandemonium in the swimming pool as every one paddled furiously while screaming in blind panic for the poolside as some young wag would come running out of the showers yelling SHARK! at the top of their voice.  I'm not saying it was me, I'm just that it could've been me.

Come back next Wednesday when I'll be updating you all on my next novel in the Sleepy Hamlet series, plus I'll be talking about the first book the Night of the Village Idiots available on Amazon Kindle now, which is about to be released as a paperback. I'll also be talking about an illustrated serialisation of a Sleepy Hamlet short story that I'll be posting, free to view for you all in a few weeks, here on the Diary of a Cartoonist & Writer. I hope to see you all then

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this post. If you did then please share it like a demented sharing person and keep on coming back for more of the same, and a whole lot besides.

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