My Eternal Spite for the Major Comics Syndicates
Submitted by pclips on May 9, 2006 - 10:40
The following is a post I made on a friend's LiveJournal (the great filker legend, Tom Smith, in fact). He created a topic to list our favorite mainstream syndicated comic strips, with a separate thread to follow about webcomics. This raised my eyebrow and potentially my hackles, but led to my articulating why I hate the Major Comics Syndicates with a white-hot passion. Seemed worth cross-posting here...
I will admit that the mainstream dailies set up an interesting (and challenging) set of parameters to write within. It's a great blessing that a cartoonist no longer MUST write inside of those restrictions to have a semblance of success. But now that we have other options, I can freely appreciate a Fox Trot or a Bizarro for choosing to stay within the tough boundaries, but still finding fresh and relevant ground for jokes.
See, here's the chip on my shoulder.
I tried to create a comic strip before the web liberated the medium from its decades of oppression and stagnation. I was swatted down like so many others. Unlike a lot of those others, I've had a second chance to prove that my stuff has worth to people. They were wrong; I was good enough. Any fair system would have given me a chance to show it.
I could have started what I do at age 20 instead of age 32, if I'd had these kinds of opportunities (which would put me where at 37, I have to wonder). The brilliant artist I partnered with in 1991 died in 2001, so he'll never know what kind of success he could have found in a fair system.
The major syndicates were not strictly or completely to blame for their suppression of talent in favor of totally worthless shit, and the thousands of dreams they crushed. But I'll never forgive them for the way they did business for 50 years. I'll always hate strips like Broom Hilda and Beetle Bailey, which had no redeeming value but choked the comics page off from people who could have been using that space to make people laugh every day.
I like to hope that webcomics will eventually put the syndicates six feet under the clay, but I think they play too dirty not to survive in some form or another. Their relevance fades every day, though, and that warms my bitter heart. *evil grin and knifetwist*