How do you become a syndicated cartoonist?
September 30, 2005 11:57 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants to make far side style one-panel cartoons. Does anyone have any business advice from him? Who should he send them to if he wants to get them published? Are there mailing lists he should be on? Do they need to be in a certain format? etc.?
posted by kensanway to Media & Arts (5 answers total)
The National Cartoonists Society has a fairly decent Beginner's Guide.

If he wants to be published in the newspapers, his best bet is to submit to the "big three" syndicates: King Features, Univeral Press, and United Features.

There's also Creators Syndicate, Tribune Media Syndicate, and The Washington Post Writers Group.

All of these syndicates should have their own submissions information on their sites. He should keep in mind that the syndicates receive hundreds of submissions, and only pick up 3 or 4 new features a year, if even that many. Rejection comes with the territory regardless of talent, and anything more than a form rejection is a good sign to keep trying.

Have your friend e-mail me if he wants any more help or info.
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:17 PM on September 30, 2005

And as for format, the best solution is to use the same dimensions that currently-syndicated strips or panels use. He should draw in these dimensions at any size that is most comfortable for him, as it will be resized anyway (and most cartoonists nowadays submit their work digitally, once syndicated).
posted by Robot Johnny at 12:20 PM on September 30, 2005

Tell him to start a webcomic. It's the only way to get started these days.

Syndication is impossible to get, and undesirable to boot.
posted by blasdelf at 12:44 PM on September 30, 2005

The best work being done in short-form comics is being done online, for free. Successful artists make ass-tons of money off of selling t-shirts and advertisments.

Perry Bible Fellowship, in my opinion, is even better than The Far Side, and I hold Larson's work in high esteem.

Penny Arcade is the 800-pound gorilla of the non-storyline-oriented webcomic world. 3.5 Million regular readers. A large part of their success is owed to spectacular writing, and being centered around gaming.
posted by blasdelf at 1:01 PM on September 30, 2005

I've gone to a bunch of lectures by various comic artists, and yeah, webcomics has been the repeated advice. Don't quit the day job [yet] and be regular about updating when you say you will.

One of the artists also recommended getting a start in local papers. The pay is measly to none, but it can be another way to get some readers and to get the paper experience (e.g., having to write three+ weeks ahead of print date).
posted by whatzit at 4:00 PM on September 30, 2005

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