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How will Scott Kurtz's offer effect webcomics?
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 8:10 am    Post subject: How will Scott Kurtz's offer effect webcomics? Reply with quote

If you didn't hear, Scott Kurts made a huge announcement at the San Diego Comic Con. He is offering up PVP to any newspaper in the country free of charge. He sees it as free advertisement for merchandise, and he would still retain all rights to his creation. It's also a way for the over budgeted newspaper editors to save money without having to cut comic strips. If any major market take him up on the offer, how will it effect the industry? What will happen when other popular web comics follow suite?

Both web comics and print could be changed forever. For example: an editor sees someone's comic strip online (after being told that the creator will license it for free to newspapers), follows it for a few months, and decides that they like it. Would that editor then just contact that creator directly without going through a sales person?

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, wrote:
...because syndicates offer the only real access to the nation's daily newspapers, they are in a superior bargaining position when it comes to negotiating contracts with new cartoonists, and they use their power to demand outrageous terms. Syndicates are sales agents: They're the middleman between the comic strip producer and the comic strip buyer. Syndicates do not create the product they sell, and they don't need or deserve long-term contracts and extensive rights to the strip in order to do there job. Their one-sided contracts turn cartoonists into adversaries, rather than partners. A few of the top cartoonist are beginning to turn the tables, and I think it's long overdue.


Bill said that years ago, is it finally coming true? Is this the end of the syndicates? Probably not. I think most papers will still look to the syndicates as a source of new strips. But this might change how they do business.
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losttoy
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope so! Over a year ago, I tried to explore doing editorial cartoons. I e-mailed very newspaper in the area. Most relied with "we get our comics from the sydnicate only" or "we already have somebody local do it for free". So it makes me wonder that the newpaper editors/publishers believe that it has to be either outraguosly expensive or free to publish or else it is not worth their time.
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William G
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just the latest step in the lengthy murder of print comics
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 01, 2004 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, William, it's a shame that you are so set against the printed comic. Because, if you ever had It's About Girls published and made into a graphic novel I would be one of the first to buy a copy.
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Tim Tylor
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds a bit like the Modern Tales approach to online webcomic syndication. They let other websites show the latest comics for free, giving them a bit of javascript code that'll display the updating comic on their page. That way, they hopefully get readers who'll subscribe to the Modern Tales sites to read the archives.
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William G
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

efm wrote:
You know, William, it's a shame that you are so set against the printed comic. Because, if you ever had It's About Girls published and made into a graphic novel I would be one of the first to buy a copy.

Well, I guess I should be more clear. I have nothing against paper. Some of my best friends are paper. It's the printed comics industry I view as an obstical to us taking our place in popular culture.

Print, as we have all known and loved it as we grew up, through the self whoring efforts of the big companies, has become such a waste of trees that I see the web as the only safe haven for the medium right now. Newspaper strips have done little to stop this slow death.

I feel that the print industry needs to die out, the bones need to turn into powder, and then we need to come sweep the dust away, and present comics in a new form. And I see that form as being these big 242 page works of art, and not these 24page movie pitches they are now.

And even though I said lengthy murder, I really should have called it "assisted suicide."

As for Kurtz, it's great that he's financially comfortable enough to get away with doing this, but his move is is the most self-serving thing ever. It helps no one but himself. And as he's helping himself, he's also making it even more difficult for syndicated cartoonists to make a living.

Not that I think his plan will succeed. His comic is too niche marketed and I'd be surprised if he got taken up on it.
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Doc MacDougal
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2004 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

William G wrote:
Not that I think his plan will succeed. His comic is too niche marketed and I'd be surprised if he got taken up on it.


Precisely. Not only is his demographic not large enough to attract the newspapers' attention, but they are also probably savvy enough to already read his strip on-line. There's no real benefit in this scenario for any of the parties.
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Tim Tylor
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 1:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doc MacDougal wrote:
William G wrote:
Not that I think his plan will succeed. His comic is too niche marketed and I'd be surprised if he got taken up on it.


Precisely. Not only is his demographic not large enough to attract the newspapers' attention, but they are also probably savvy enough to already read his strip on-line. There's no real benefit in this scenario for any of the parties.


He says Universal Press Syndicates actually offered to take his strip up. He eventually turned them down because they were demanding too much of the rights to it.
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William G
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2004 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm... Maybe Tetsuya Ishida should try the same thing
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2004 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

William G wrote:
As for Kurtz, it's great that he's financially comfortable enough to get away with doing this, but his move is is the most self-serving thing ever. It helps no one but himself. And as he's helping himself, he's also making it even more difficult for syndicated cartoonists to make a living.

Not that I think his plan will succeed. His comic is too niche marketed and I'd be surprised if he got taken up on it.
It's definately a very self-serving stand to take, but I can't decide whether Kurtz should be commended or condemned for this approach. On the one hand I wouldn't shed any tears if the majority of the older syndicated cartoonists like Jim Davis, Johnny Hart, etc. were put out to pasture since most have been running on the vapours of good work they did twenty years ago.

On the other hand, like you say if he succeeds it will be virtually impossible for younger syndicated cartoonists to get started. For all the crap coming from the syndicates today, their downfall might deprive us of the next Darby Conley.

It's great that someone is standing up and trying to stick it to the syndicates, but as Scott (McCloud) and others have pointed out numerous times the flaw in a merchandise-based financial model is that it only works for comics that lend themselves well to T-Shirts, baseball caps and toys. Isn't that the kind of flawed thinking that dragged animation in 70s and 80s down in to the depths of cartoon hell where Rainbow Bright and the rest of her Saturday Morning ilk reside?

When it's all said in done I think this kind of thing could work, but I agree that PVP is too niche marketed and the wrong strip to use to attempt something like this. I'd wager that a significant majority of PVP's audience doesn't get news from the newspaper, at least the printed variety.

It'll be interesting to see what happens.
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Eric F Myers
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scott Kurts on his blog for Sunday, August 29. wrote:
I apologize for today's strip being late. I'm stuffing kleenex up both nostrils so I can draw it right now.

How the hell is he going to distribute new material on a daily basis to the papers when he doing the strips on the day of publication? The editors aren?t going to want to use material that is already available on his website. They're going to want the new stuff everyday, and I thought that is what Kurts is offering. Most newspapers want your work submitted to them a couple of weeks ahead of publishing. Six weeks ahead if you're going through a syndicate. That's one of the reasons why newspapers go through syndicates, because the artist can't be trusted to send the stuff in on time. Maybe the real reason Scott didn't want to sign with the Universal is that they wanted his strips to be done too early for his liking.
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Greg Stephens
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2004 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Based on Kurtz's statement, which includes this sentence: "I will provide for the papers, a comic strip with a larger established audience then any new syndicated feature, a years worth of strips in advance, and I won't charge them a cent for it." (Other than adding the bold, sic.) I take this to mean that the strips he's offering to newspapers are culled from his existing archive, and thus are available in advance with no or miniscule deadline issues. Much like the content that's going into the PvP print comic book.
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gazorenzoku
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2004 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

in that case, i guess he is hoping to get papers to pick up the first year for free and then start paying him for future work if readers like it?

(and get free advertising for his merchandice, etc.)

It may be self serving, but it is a heck of a marketing method for someone who already has a year's worth of cartoons to hand out for free.
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Tim Tylor
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 23, 2004 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

He's got his first taker:
PVP in Kansas City Star? (Comixpedia News)
The scanned page shows it alongside a couple of computer games review articles.
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