Cartoonist glut
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Thread: Cartoonist glut

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Cartoonist glut

    I think there's a cartoonist glut. My experience (and the experences of others) seems to indicate that there is a glut of cartoonists. Consider the cartoon syndication example. As I understand it, cartoon syndicates only select two or three new comics a year. And they usually choose those few comics out of thousands of submissions. Thus only a tiny percentage of cartoonists will get syndicated while the vast majority will never get syndicated. You'd have much better chances winning the lotto.

    I've concluded that the best way to mitigate the cartoonist glut is through the Internet. Unike a newspaper which only has room for 20 or 30 comics, the Internet has room for millions of comics. There are billions of web sites after all. But it's not quite as easy as that since you have to go through the difficulty of finding the web site or web sites that will publish your comic. Even so, you have a better chance of getting a comic published on the Internet than you have of winning the lotto. And you have a far, far, far, far better chance of getting a comic published on the Internet than you have of or getting your comic syndicated.

    On the other hand, saying there's a cartoonist glut is like saying there's an actor glut. It's just the nature of the business that there are far more cartoonists available than cartoonist jobs. I'm of the mind that the best way to get a cartoonsit job is to be so persuasive that people will hire you regardless of what your art looks like. Of course if I had that kind of persuasive power, I wouldn't be whining about this cartoonist glut "problem."

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    I think using deer rifles to thin the herd would work pretty well.

    How 'bout it?

    Which "jumped the shark"--20--years--ago--zombie*--cartoonist would YOU like to shoot?


    *some cartoons just won't die even though they have no real life left in them. . .

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    Self Syndication is a potential avenue for the diligent, but the hard copy newspapers are also struggling for their survival. You are probably right in looking at the internet if you are interested in long term viability in the 21st century.

    Now you need to look at whether you prefer to subject yourself to the beauty contest (or dog show) of submitting to people you hope will publish you someday, or whether you have the energy, knowledge, resources, and resolve simply to be a publisher in your own right.

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    I'm reasonably certain that as the baby boomer generation ages newspapers are going to see their death. The newspaper to which my parents still subscribe to for whatever reason is now a third of the size it was only about five years ago or so, and if anything will hit the chopping block next, you know it will be the 'fluff' comics, opinions, etc.

    Online comics like Penny Arcade, PvP, Hanna is Not a Boys Name, and others are doing well enough that their creators are able to support themselves on their work. These and others create bright new appealing work. Print comics are a veritable graveyard of zombie strips that have lived on past their original creators death (and quite frankly, personally, I detest every last one of them). What isn't now done by committee or a son of a son is often bland, boring, and lame. Remember the comic strip censors are stuck in the 1950s and strips have to be done at least two weeks in advance. Topical humor is straight out, as is anything even remotely controversial. There are about... I think five strips I still enjoy, they're all relatively newer, and still handled by their orignal creators.

    Is there a cartoonist glut? Well I'm not sure. The only way to find out is to start, promote and work hard at your own strip. Online, if it's good, and you catch a few people's eyes, you could be well on your way to the success of many current artists. Remember that Pearls Before Swine started as a web-only strip.

    Self publication is the way to go online. All but one of my favorite online strips (roughly twenty or so) are self-published or started out that way. It takes more self promotion, but for the dedicated it can be very rewarding.

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    I didn't know "Hanna is Not a Boys Name" was that popular.

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    Popular enough that it's author claims she is living successfully as a web comic artist (she mentioned it a few blog postings ago when talking about another comic project she's picking up with her sister). She seems an honest sort and I would believe her when she says so.

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    If it's true (and I see no reason to doubt it) that HIsBN is that successful, then it's a testament to the value of fan involvement. The author/artist is highly involved with the community that's grown up around the strip and her art, and when working online that's a vital component. I can't think of too many (or any?) successful strips that don't rely on it.

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    Though newspapers do seem to be on their way out the syndicated cartoonist who are successful are still the ones making the the good money for their craft. There is an absolute glut of many things be it cartoonist actors or artist. Mostly because people seem to think things are easier than they really are and because they over estimate their own abilities.

    The internet has hundreds if not thousands of "cartoonist" (likely more) and the vast majority of them are awful. There are few that do manage to pay the bills but i would guess as a percentage it is pretty low. As with anything on the internet any one can put up anything as there is no quality control filter.

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    @ Featherwurm Pearls before Swine was never a an independent web comic, it was published to web first by the syndicate United Media.

    The absolute best comics are NOT topical. Who cares what is topical as it will not be in a year. Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and many more are still great to this day, Doonesbury, for example, does not hold up so well.

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    Good key words in text outside the graphic image, particularly in the links and titles, are where money can be found. "Art" is a reasonably good keyword, by the way.

    I make the naked statement, but decline to explain it because I don't intend to do all the research for you guys. There's some other stuff I don't even make naked statements about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darasen View Post
    @ Featherwurm Pearls before Swine was never a an independent web comic, it was published to web first by the syndicate United Media.

    The absolute best comics are NOT topical. Who cares what is topical as it will not be in a year. Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side, and many more are still great to this day, Doonesbury, for example, does not hold up so well.

    I did not say it was an independent strip, only that it was a web-only strip to begin with, which as you say, is true. I was simply pointing it out as an example that if a cartoonist feels that print media is their goal, the internet is not their enemy. Or is it an enemy to syndication/syndicated comics.

    And you are right about topical humor (despite my earlier statement), it can make a strip as equally bad as anything else.

    While it is true that there is a large amount of bad comics out there on the web (many do come to mind) and the percentage that are successful is slim, the good ones have many things in common, solid art, solid humor or stories (on any myriad of topics), and an author and artist willing to promote the hell out of themselves to get their stuff out there. You do have to be selling a good product, but a good product alone won't sell itself.

    Their may perhaps be a 'glut' of work out there, but anything that's solid and has a cartoonist willing to give it their all to get it going I think stands a good chance of reaching it's goals, online or otherwise.

    I still suspect newspapers are nearing the end of their lifetime, but I don't think that will see the end of syndication, if the number of web comics that are now getting book publication these days is any indication.

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  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by timelike01 View Post
    I've concluded that the best way to mitigate the cartoonist glut is through the Internet. Unike a newspaper which only has room for 20 or 30 comics, the Internet has room for millions of comics. There are billions of web sites after all. But it's not quite as easy as that since you have to go through the difficulty of finding the web site or web sites that will publish your comic. Even so, you have a better chance of getting a comic published on the Internet than you have of winning the lotto. And you have a far, far, far, far better chance of getting a comic published on the Internet than you have of or getting your comic syndicated.
    I just don't know what to say. Except that 16,000+ cartoonists and millions of their fans are about 10 years ahead of you.

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  13. #12
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    The options for webcomic artists appear to be growing. ComicPress, a WordPress plugin that helps webcomic artists, is coming out with a paid version with loads of features (luckily the free version will be still be updated). Project Wonderful has a great advertising service, that simply requires 30+ posts.

    For a long time, I was trying to get into print (sucking really bad at it), but only recently have I become the exact opposition. My head feels a lot clearer now that I don't feel the pressure to impress publishers. The "writer's block" is no longer applicable. I can publish just about what I want, when I want to.

    But I guess there's still a little more to it than that. There's a lot of mistakes that I've made, and I'm still learning.

    If you're a strip comic artist though, I wouldn't bother with the newspapers. Print is not going to be gone, at least not anytime soon, but it's no longer the only option either.

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  14. #13
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    Personally, I'd bet my money on webcomics rather than newspaper syndication these days... Even my parents are losing interest in newspapers. As near as I can tell, most syndicated cartoonists make a good chunk of their income from peripheral licensed products anyway (calendars, mugs, etc.) Anyone with good entrepreneurial chops can get into licensing merchandise without having a syndicated strip, so why bother with syndication?

    Sure, the ratio of self-supporting webcomic artists to amateurs is small, but hello, it's the web. Everything published on the web is going to be like that, just because it's free to publish, so there are exponentially more people publishing. But someone with a good product and a lot of promotional effort can make it on the web.

    And people can use web publishing to make it OFF the web as well... I remember the early days of webcomics when people couldn't imagine anyone making money off of them, and since then there's been an increasing number of success stories. In particular, there seems to be an increasing number of people posting free comics and then selling print versions, related paraphernalia, and advertising. Sometimes to the extent where they can make a living at this. Megatokyo comes to mind. And then there's the case of Girl Genius, which was self-publishing print comics before they decided to post their comics online for free - and guess what, posting their comics online actually boosted their print sales, and sales of related merchandise.

    Yes, it's weird, but people do buy print versions of free online comics. And related shirts, mugs, plushies, etc. etc. I suspect the trend of successful self-published webcomics will continue to grow as syndicated newspaper comics continue to shrink (literally and metaphorically.)

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