Dilbert Instructions

The difference between ComixTalk and Dilbert creator Scott Adam’s blog? On the one hand – almost a year, but on the more important hand, a whole lot more readers and influence in the newspaper comics world.

Almost a year ago I wrote a short plug for the funny comic Basic Instructions by Scott Meyer. Very recently, Scott Adams blogged that he had discovered the comic several months ago and written to Meyers with praise and encouragement. Adams is now blogging about how he is trying to mentor Meyer to get Basic Instructions into something that could be syndicated. It’s an interesting premise although there’s no guarantee that Adams could ever come up with another hit (let alone something that managed to tap the zeitgeist in a way Dilbert did initially). Still can’t hurt right?

You can see some of the reworked for newspaper-land comics here and here. So far it doesn’t work for me – I like Meyer much more in the larger alt-weekly style format. Here’s some interesting stuff though from Adams in a second post on the risk/rewards of the different formats:

Opinions were divided on whether the original square-and-wordy format was better than the slimmed down comic strip panel form. The comic strip form is far more commercial, assuming you are selling to newspapers. But as many of you pointed out, the market for newspapers is shrinking. Many of you advise that Scott Meyer should take his work directly to books and calendars and Internet publishing.

Has that ever worked?

Yes, on a small scale. I believe Scott could leverage the visibility he is getting here to earn perhaps $100K per year with a small book deal, small calendar deal, self-publication in smaller alternative newspapers, and a small but growing Internet presence. I put his odds of making that strategy work at about 90%.

Now let’s look at newspaper syndication. Assuming the comic got picked up by 500 newspapers in five years, and licensing started to take off (books, calendars, greeting cards), that would put him in the $500K to $1 million per year range, with lots of room for upside growth. But what are the odds of that happening, even with my support?

Reading the whole post you grok that Adams thinks the path for Meyer is the newspaper format and to narrow the topic of Basic Instructions to relationship humor – given all of that Adams actually thinks Meyer might have a 50% chance of getting synicated into 500 newspapers. Adams seems to think it’s an either/or choice but given R. Stevens recent deal to do both web and newspaper-style Diesel Sweeties there’s no reason Meyer can’t pursue both as well so long as – like R Stevens – he protects his interest in a comic he’s already developed.


Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.

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