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Unshelved comic strip for 6/15/2004

Going For It

Today six packages of our best comic strips are winging their way to the comics editors at six syndicates. This is something I've been putting off for, oh, a year and a half now. At first we didn't submit because we knew we were on the rough end of the learning curve. But about six months ago we both finally agreed that the strip was about as polished as it was going to get. So since then I've been putting it off.

Why procrastinate? Well first of all it's me. But it's also not a slam dunk that we want to be syndicated. We have done very well building an audience online and while we're not making enough money to make a living, it's at least forseable that one day we will. Entering into a syndication deal means giving up a lot of control (there's that word again) and some money too. And just getting syndicated doesn't mean fame and fortune, because newspapers actually have to buy you (and keep you). Most new strips get into a handful of papers and stall, leaving their creators frustrated and poor and their rights constrained by their contract. Like I said, not a slam dunk.

But obviously there's some real upside. Namely, we could get picked up and our stip debut in dozens of papers, picking up more every month, until the point (about 100 papers or so) where the syndication money starts resembling a real income. And of course the tens or hundreds of thousands of new readers it would bring to the strip. That's the dream. Help us dream it.

For a more jaded view of the whole thing, read about Garfield in Slate. For the record, I hate Garfield. With a passion. It is such utter crap. Unshelved was very much not conceived with licensing in mind, and I like to think it shows. We made it because it allowed us to express our ideas and sense of humor. If people like it, great. If not, I'll go back to work at Microsoft and pay for our upcoming house remodel a lot faster. So far, of course, several thousand people like it. What remains to be seen is if we can take that to the next level. Submitting for syndication is a good, if not conclusive test.

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