Wednesday, November 14, 2007

My Comic Strip Syndicate Submission - PART 2: “Guidelines, Tips & Advice"

My Comic Strip Syndicate Submission by Mike Cope - PART TWO: Guidelines, Tips & Advice

As announced in PART 1, I’ve mailed a comic strip submission to the major syndicates for consideration. While I wait for their replies, I’m inviting readers to join me in this pursuit of my childhood dream. As a token of appreciation, I hinted that you’ll be given the chance to WIN A PRIZE! Full details about this “fun” contest can be found here.

Today, I’m going to highlight a little about comic strip syndicate submission guidelines. I’m writing this with the general reader in mind, so I apologize to any cartoonists who are already familiar with the submission process. For aspiring cartoonists, I’m also including a few tips and advice from the pros.

But first, here’s a closer look at the comic strip that I showed in yesterday’s teaser photo ...

KRICK: From Pencil to Ink
KRICK: "From Pencil to Ink"

Later in this post, you’ll find out why Krick doesn’t feel so good! Which reminds me, have you guessed what Krick’s occupation might be? I gave a few hints in PART 1. If you think you know the answer, you’ll find out if you’re right at the end of this posting ... You’ll also learn the title of my new comic strip!

For now, let’s take a close-up look at what the syndicates are looking for in a comic strip submission ...

K is for KRICK - Principal Grace (Close-up)

Submission Guidelines:

At the time of this writing, the specific submission guidelines for the “major” comic strip syndicates can be found by clicking the following links:

Creator’s Syndicate
King Features Syndicate
Tribune Media Services
United Media / United Feature Syndicate
Universal Press Syndicate
The Washington Post Writers Group

TorStar Syndication Services

As mentioned in PART 1, TorStar is the only major syndicate based in Canada. The rest are all in the United States.

"What we are looking for ..."

If you visit the above links, you may notice that (aside from the number of samples to include) some syndicates don’t give any details as to what they’re looking for in a comic strip. I think that this is a good thing because it requires the cartoonist to use their own imagination. After all, even though comic strips are sold as commercial products, they start as a personal expression.

Still, if you’re an aspiring cartoonist, here are a few items that all editors expect in a comic strip submission (courtesy of King Features, Universal Press, and United Feature):

  • an individual slant on the world and humour
  • events/characters that other people can relate to
  • drawn clear with visual impact
  • legible enough to reduce to newspaper size
  • a high level of quality
  • consistency

Most of these points speak for themselves, but here’s one that can never be stressed enough:

“Good writing helps weak art, better than good art helps weak writing.”

Although it’s usually the drawings that first attract a reader’s attention, it’s the writing that keeps them coming back. Even a comic strip with no dialogue has element of writing. After all, the funnies are a form of visual storytelling.

I must admit that this is something that wasn’t always clear to me. In fact, I’m still learning something new every day, so I feel that I should add the disclaimer that I’m writing this from the perspective of someone currently seeking syndication. In other words: Don’t take what I’m writing as “expert” advice!

That said, some of the best advice that I’ve ever heard has come directly from syndicated cartoonists whom I’ve been lucky to meet either in person or via online forums such as ToonTalk and The Wisenheimer. When it comes to good writing, here are two important tips from the pros:

Write what you know.
Write from your heart.

With that in mind, I’m happy to share with you the title of my new comic strip ...

K is for KRICK by Mike Cope
K is for KRICK by Mike Cope

As you might have guessed, Krick is a schoolteacher! The basic premise of the strip was inspired by my own experiences as both a new teacher (“write what you know”) and a young husband (“write from your heart”). Of course, I’ve exaggerated the truth just a little in the spirit of the funnies ...

K is for KRICK: Comic Strip Sample
K is for KRICK - Sample Comic Strip

For my syndicate submission, Krick is technically a substitute teacher. Still, he’s a fully-trained and certified high school science teacher, freshly graduated from teacher’s college and jumping through all the hoops that one does as a rookie ...

Like being sent back to elementary school?

Come back and find out!

Tomorrow, I'll share some more about K is for KRICK and will touch on the comic strip syndication submission topic of Writing a Cover Letter. And be sure to stop by anytime after Friday for your chance to WIN A PRIZE!

Stay TOONed!

- Mike Cope


  1. Hey Mike I hope all goes well with this one, plus I am looking forward to practicing on how to make comics/comic strips to become as good or just a little less good as you ;)

  2. It's always nice to know your family is cheering for ya ... Thanks, 'Cuz!

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