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I agree with the "surprise" element in gag writing. But how do you explain those strips that are picked up that end up being duds?


Not that it would be a surprise.

Which "duds" are you referring to?

Anything that only last less than 5 years in syndication.

First, I reject your term "duds" ... we've had some terrific strips that didn't last five years.

Second, there's an individual story to the success and failure of each property. So to generalize as to the failure of every strip that hasn't lasted five years is an arrogant position. (and I know you're thinking that that hasn't stopped me before)

Third, we syndicate properties we think we can sell. The market does not always agree with us. Editors are not traditional buyers and the merit of a strip, which sometimes seems apparent to us, can go over their head, doesn't resonate strongly enough, or goes to committee -- where good things rarely happen. Or more likely, they don't want the bother.

Editors are in survival mode, changing comics is not on the top of their priority list. I often wonder what the reaction to Doonesbury would be if we launched it today. I'd like to think the quality would be recognized ... but I also know there would be a bunch of editors thinking the status quo is easier to manage than a compelling comics page.

Or maybe even we (GASP!) misjudged the property ... we do make the wrong call occasionally. But I, as you might expect, would put our roster up against anyone's.

What about "Frog Applause"?

By the way, I think Universal does have a pretty strong lineup. I just wonder about the anomalies and how they slip through.

I think we're defining syndication differently.

With deference to "Frog Applause" -- which incidentally has been consistently funny and bizarre for the last few months -- we don't "syndicate" it. It's a Web-only strip that I think could do well in alternatives and possibly in books/cards.

So you're saying the key to success is being funny?


Seriously though -- interesting analysis, John.
Thank you.

I think funny is so subjective. Case in point: I always think John's wardrobe is funny, but then I don't have to work around him on a day-to-day basis. I can see how that could be depressing.

Mark, it's called being "ahead of the curve." You'll see. In a few years, giant sombreros will be 'all the rage' and you'll be saying: "I've been wearing them for years, Rob. They're fabulous."

I do have another formula for comedy that I'd like to share:

tragedy + distance + cilantro = comedy.


John, your brand of comedy sounds like it might be good on a restuarant-style white corn chip

You missed one, John:
tragedy + distance + cilantro + Yakov Smirnoff = comedy GOLD.

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