Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Comic Strip Syndicate Submission - Q&A: “Childhood Dream?”

My Comic Strip Syndicate Submission by Mike Cope - Q&A Session: Childhood Dream?

Last night, I received an interesting question from someone who read my previous post, asking why it’s taken me over 5 years to send a new submission to the syndicates when I described comic strip syndication as my “childhood dream.”

The short answer is: “Because I wasn’t ready.”

Since you're still reading this, I'm guessing it's because you'd like to know a little more about the long answer. For that, let's travel a few years back in time ... (cue Doctor Who music) ...

"Dear Contributor:"

After receiving nothing but form rejections (i.e., photocopied ‘no thank you’ letters) from all of the different syndicates back in 2001 and 2002, I decided that I needed to let my cartooning and writing skills develop more before I bothered the syndicate editors again. I was honestly worried about being seen as more of a nuisance than someone seeking a professional contract.

Of course, form rejections are an undesirable, but necessary part of the business. As mentioned in PART ONE, the syndicates receive thousands of submissions per year, so it’s impossible for their editors to personally reply to every cartoonist.

The following are a few examples of form rejection letters that I previously received from King Features, United Feature, and Universal Press Syndicate. Of special note is the one in the top left -- even though it's just a form rejection, it was hand-signed in pen by the late Jay Kennedy ...

Form Rejection - King Features SyndicateForm Rejection - United Media / United Feature SyndicateForm Rejection - Universal Press Syndicate

Sample Form Rejection Letters from Comic Strip Syndicates (circa 2001).

Since drawing a syndicated comic strip has always been my childhood dream, I didn’t want to annoy the editors with more and more submissions if I wasn’t improving. Besides, I’d only be collecting more and more rejection forms, so I had to think about my impact on the environment too! And so, I continued with my school studies, which included taking some art classes, but I also let myself grow up a little (cartoonists prefer to describe this as “gaining life experiences” ... if you're familiar with Peter Pan, you'll understand why).

Looking back, it's interesting to see how one step has led to the next ... Hopefully, I've been heading in the right direction!

Over the years, I’ve sold my cartoons to a variety of “small” publications. I also drew a weekly strip for my university’s newspaper. For any aspiring cartoonist that might be reading this, these are all great opportunities where one can develop artistically and gain regular clients. Some of my older cartoons now make me cringe (I'm lucky that folks paid to publish them rather than burn them!), but cartooning is no different than anything else ... The more you practice, the better you get.

Just for fun, here's one from "way back" in 1999 ...

BigMAC by Mike Cope - Publishing in the McMaster Silhouette - April 8, 1999)
bigMAC - Published in The Silhouette, McMaster University (April 8, 1999).

I guess the big question is: WHY NOW?

Honestly, it all came down to a gut feeling of "being ready."

Since 2003, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity of being a freelance gagwriter for the daily comic strip PC & Pixel by Tak Bui. This has been a great learning experience with respect to writing specifically for a comic strip. To-date, I've sold over 200 gags. In May 2006, I sold my first cartoon to Reader’s Digest Canada and have had several more published by them since. I'm hoping these are signs that my writing and cartooning are (finally) reaching a new level. Whether or not this level is what any of the syndicates are looking for, I honestly don’t know ... I guess we’ll find out in six to eight (or more) weeks!

On that note, I’d like to conclude by saying that many people count down the years, months, weeks, and days before they can retire. Heck, some even count down the hours of a single work day—I know I’ve done it! Syndicated or not, I don’t intend to ever “retire” from cartooning. As silly as it may sound, a good dream is something that you don’t want to wake up from.

Of course, becoming a syndicated cartoonist is usually easier dreamt than done!


KRICK Teaser Photo: Comic Strip Rough Drawing
KRICK Teaser Photo: "Comic Strip Rough Drawing"

In upcoming posts, I’ll be sharing more about my new comic strip, as well as cover other syndicate submission topics such as: Guidelines, Tips & Advice, Writing a Cover Letter, and more!

I’ll also share more about how you can WIN A PRIZE!

In the meantime, here's a recent blog post written by fellow cartoonist, Geoff Hassing, on the topic of Syndication: The Childhood Dream. As you'll see, for those of us who grew up reading the funnies in their local newspapers, syndication has always been our dream job.

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the nod Mike! The pencils in the pic look really nice. Good luck with the submission!