Michael Jantze is the creator of The Norm, a daily comic strip syndicated by King Features Syndicate. Jantze’s strip is one of those relatively new, good comic strips that if you are lucky enough to have in your hometown paper you may wonder, ‘how did that get syndicated?’
Jantze also has a wonderful website that not only features the strip, but also offers many features that won’t be unfamilar to fans and creators of webcomics. Like a lot of webcomic creators, he has also moved to put his comic strip into comic book form, publishing The Norm magazine.
Jantze has agreed to answer your questions. Post your questions here, and we’ll send the top ten moderated questions to be answered. We’ll take questions (one question per post to this thread) up until April 16th.
I’m lucky enough to have the Norm in the Atlanta paper here and read it every single day. It’s absolutely one of my favorite newspaper comics ever.
I’d like to ask Jantze how he knows about some webcomics- he featured some like PVP that branched into print a while back.
How on earth did he get the Norm into my newspaper and others?
Is he optimistic about the future of syndicated webcomics? Is there going to be a revolution in how they’re distributed and who owns what rights?
What kind of feedback does he get about some of his less obvious comics? Some of them are so slice-of-life with no clear punchline.
How important is his website to how he thinks about his comic? Would it be the same without the extras or the calendars and continuations?
How do we get the Norm into more newspapers?
How many papers is The Norm in? Is it enough for you to make a living at The Norm? How hard did/does your syndicate work to get The Norm into papers? How much work do you do to promote The Norm to newspaper editors (or whoever decides to put it into papers?)
When I first encountered this strip, it was as a boxed print-on-demand reprint collection, offered through my local comics shop. Now the deadtree version is being offered as “The Norm Magazine.” How did you decide it was a good idea to make this change? Was it format? Price? Did someone in the audience request Norm’s running commentary/footnotes and that was the easiest way to accommodate them?
I’m also curious to know how the other Norm-related items are doing (original art, t-shirts, subscriptions, etc). Has anyone ever actually bought the contents of your trashcan or the pencil stubs?
Finally, something NOT related to merchandising: when I last visited your website, there was a feature where the viewer could have a new window come up, which automatically refreshed with random strips from your archives at regular intervals — at a guess, what was your bandwidth usage through that feature? Would you say it is better than the traditional method of showing archived strips with “previous” and “next” buttons?
Do you get any respect/disrespect from the comic book (as opposed to comic strip) people?
In your opinion, who are the 3 best strippers of all time. Who are the 3 best now?
Do topical comic strips (i.e. Doonesbury, Boondocks) have a real effect on the way people think?
How do you come up with ideas?
Do you have any other stories or ideas you wish to tell besides Norm?
Do you watch anime (Japanese cartoons)? If so, what shows? Do you put any anime references in Norm so far?
To you, what makes a popular comic book?
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