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The future of syndication: online “stores”
Daryl Cagle, editorial cartoonist for MSNBC and founder of Cagle Cartoons Syndicate has laid out what he believes is the future of syndication.
It would seem that the new paradigm is to think of a syndicate like a store. A store in a good location has lots of customers who find the store. A store in a poor location draws few customers. Stores in different locations draw different customers.
Cartoonists are like producers who create products to put in the stores. Cartoonists should want their cartoons to be sold in as many different stores as possible, because those stores now have different customers.
Exclusive syndication deals now have less value to the syndicates and tie the hands of the cartoonists. The new paradigm for editorial cartoonists is to be resold in as many ways, in as many places as possible.
My advice for 21st century editorial cartoonists is: draw a consistent, steady flow of great cartoons that are not about local events, with a global audience in mind. Sign non-exclusive deals with as many syndicates, online stores and stock houses that you can find, around the world, and allow those “stores” to sub-license your work through other “stores.” Have your own Web site where your work is easily available to any customer who is interested just in you, and publicize your site as best you can. Manage your work as a database of all your work. Your product is all your work from past years, not just what you’re drawing today; and when you join a new online store or syndicate, bring all your past cartoons with you so that your archive is easily accessible and can continue to generate sales of second rights. Don’t accept long term contracts with syndicates, agents or online stores; always be free to move. And don’t rely on anyone to take care of your career, but you.