Saturday, February 3, 2007

Syndicate Roulette

Well, I just sent out a new comic strip proposal to the syndicates. (Cue audience laughter.)

The number of major syndicates has dwindled to six in the past few years, what with the L.A. Times Syndicate being swallowed up by Tribune. Speaking of Tribune Media Syndicate (TMS), I'm not even sure they're really even in business anymore. Several cartoonists have jumped ship -- Mike Peters with Grimmy a few years ago, and Todd Clark and Steve Dickenson with Lola last year. They've also lost some of their editorial cartoonists.

Not surprisingly, I received a lovely form-letter rejection from TMS in what seemed like minutes of sending out my package. I've heard other cartoonists have received this same letter recently. It appears TMS isn't really looking for new material, It's a shame. They were a good syndicate back in the day and boasted a good line-up, including MacNelly's comic strip, Shoe.

Getting back to the submission, here are the syndicates to which I submitted:

United Media
Universal Press
Creators Syndicate
Washington Post Writers Group
Tribune Media
King Features

I'll post responses from the various editors when -- or if -- I hear from them. I'm wondering if already being syndicated will make any difference in getting the feature looked at.

Here are my predictions:

United Media -- form letter
Universal Press -- form letter
Creators Syndicate -- form letter
Washington Post Writers Group -- form letter with personal note
Tribune Media -- form letter (already received)
King Features -- possible email; most likely no response unless I personally call (which I just might)

We'll see how accurate I am in the coming weeks.

As for what I submitted...that's a secret for now -- but I will post samples once I've heard back from everyone.

And to all you aspiring cartoonists out there, just remember this: Scott Adams (of Dilbert) received rejections from every syndicate he submitted to except one (United Features). He even got the old "Dear Creator" form letter rejection from Universal (a personal favorite of mine as I've received this particular missive since the late 1980s). And I submitted material (off and on) for about 14 years before getting syndicated with King.

Ain't cartooning fun?


cbrubaker said...


Just wondering. What's the chance of a cartoonist getting another comic strip syndicated when they already have a syndicated strip?

Scott Nickel said...

That's a good question. Based on the number of cartoonists with more than one strip, the odds don't seem bad. Most of these guys have a second strip with their current syndicates.

It all comes down to the concept, of course. But I imagine that if Scott Adams or Lynn Johnston (just to pull two big-name creators out of the air) wanted to start a second feature, they'd have a pretty good chance of getting it launched. For us "smaller" fish, the equation may be quite different.


Anonymous said...

Concerning your theory that TMS is barely in business any more:
How many comic strips have been launched by TMS in the last few years? I know that in 2006 they only launched one -- Peter Ramirez's "Raising Hector" (which might be pretty good once it starts hitting its stride, by the way). In addition, the creator of the webcomic "What the Duck" has been doing a similar Syndication Bingo, and he too got a form letter from TMS within the week of the submission being sent.

Also, I have to say that since you are currently syndicated at King Features that was by far your best chance of getting a second feature syndicated. I mean, has any cartoonist ever had a second strip syndicated by a different syndicate than his first strip?

Finally, when can we see the strips that you submitted this time?

Scott Nickel said...

TMS syndicated BLISS in 2005, I think. They don't seem to be aggressively launching strips (but do seem to be aggressively losing them.)

I have seen "Syndication Bingo," but "Syndication Roulette" is completely different. :) (Okay I confess; I ripped-off the idea.)

As for cartoonists who have strips at more than one syndicate, Todd Clark (my TT partner) has LOLA at United Media (previously with TMS).

As for my submission, I should probably post it sooner rather than later. The longer I wait, the bigger the build up, and the more disappointed people will be. Trust me; I didn’t come up with the next Calvin & Hobbes or Peanuts. It’s just an amusing comic strip. Plus, I’ve publicly dissed Johnny Hart’s grandson.

So I really should just post the strips and shut up, right?

Look for it within the next couple of days.