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Scott Kurtz calls on Bill Amend to save the comics
Scott Kurtz is hoping to save comics and is openly soliciting help from Bill Amend to make a 1989 statement made by Bill Watterson come true – that comics can be improved with (and without) the syndicate’s cooperation.
In essence, Scott is proposing that someone from the established cartooning industry (Bill Amend) can get together with a group from the web comics world and come up with something new to revitalize the industry.
The syndicates are failing online. Comics.com, Comics Sherpa, Ucomics. Nobody cares. They’re hiring hipsters to bring new talent into their existing system but they meet resistance with such piecemeal actions I think.
More and more I’ve been wondering if there’s a halfway point where we can all meet. What we need is a bridge. Someone who understands both sides and can work with both sides. Someone who has the time, which means someone who’s probably retired from comics or is superhuman in is ability to meet his daily syndicate schedule. Someone who is willing and able to work alongside or outside is syndicate contractual obligations.
Bill Amend recently quit his daily Foxtrot commitment to work on new things. How about working on something like this, Bill? Michael Jantze took his syndicated strip “The Norm” out of papers and offered it online via subscriptions. Why not expand that business? Bill Holbrook draws an online comic strip alongside his newspaper strips. Why not help us create something new for papers, Bill?
Let’s imagine the possibilities. What if there were a Keenspot or Blank Label hub that had Bill Amend’s next big comic strip on it? What if it combined the works of well known syndicated cartoonists as well as the best of the new guard. What could we all learn from each other’s experiences and build something new. Something that both worked with the papers and outside of them simultaneously?
How long are we going to wait for this to happen for real? Who are we waiting for to make this happen for us? Who are we leaving it up to? Do you want the newspapers and syndicates setting this up? Do you want to leave it up to the old guard and their fears of the web? Do you want to leave it in the hands of the new upstarts who are passionate but inexperienced and unknown? What’s the pragmatic choice here? Isn’t it our responsibility to at least try? What if Bill Watterson said “I’m starting something” instead of saying “Somebody should start something.” Maybe nothing, but maybe something incredible.
If I might be so bold as to infer that what Scott is really asking is someone with name recognition and clout to help create this next big whatever it is. The problem being – nobody knows what “it” is and no amount of name recognition is going to make a “whatever” a reality unless it’s defined first – otherwise you have a committee and name the last great thing to ever come from a committee.