Monday, June 10, 2013

Roswell---the next project

Roswell. What can I say about this little chap? Well he goes against every rule in comics as far as I've heard.

Let me elucidate: I produced Roswell originally as a comic strip around four years ago and dutifully sent it around the major five syndicates. All of them rejected it out of hand, and I was at a loss to understand why.

Oh don't get me wrong, this isn't my inflated artistic ego talking, I'm a professional cartoonist, I know all about the world of the rejection slip so it had nothing to do with that; and after a short period of reflection I can usually see why the syndicates turn my ideas down and try to learn by those mistakes and push onto the next idea.

But the thing is I never really understood why they didn't go for it. Everyone who had ever seen it loved it not only for the characters but for the idea, something that none of my previous efforts had garnered. So what was wrong with it...why did the syndicate editors drop it like a hot potato?

Well its been a few years since I've sent anything to a syndicate and I'm not sure if I ever will again: this isn't sour grapes, I'm just not sure if its the way to go forward for me. But lately I heard an interview with a syndicate editor---I think it was someone over at Universal Press---who was talking about the ever increasing mountain of submissions and how they filter them. I leaned in closer to listen.

And there, almost at the top of ideas that they reject out of hand, was 'Alien strips'. Apparently they have so many strips submissions about aliens coming down to study us, that befriend a little kid who helps him understand our culture with hilarious consequences, that they just stamp 'reject' and move on without even looking.

And there I had it. Right out of the mouth of the syndicate review board. That was why Roswell was rejected. Without nary a glance or a flick through the material they decided my submission wasn't worth it. Not once did they take into account the months of careful development and character definition and design, or the weeks spent writing and selecting the correct balance in gags that typified the strip exactly or the hours spent crouched over a drawing board; not to mention the cost in postage.

No it was just rejected. No thanks. We're not giving a reason, just go away and come back with something else that we may reject out of hand for reasons you'll never know because we can't be arsed to put it on the submissions guideline sheet.

But I have a few points to make on the syndicates rather ill thought through viewpoint:

  1. There has never been, to my certain knowledge, a cartoon strip about an alien--- with or without a little wise cracking boy--- in the papers; so how do they know this will be a doomed concept?
  2. Isn't the idea of the syndicate to bring to the masses cartoon ideas that they would like to see? And seeing as just about ever strip ever written has at least one little wise ass kid, how do they arrive at the conclusion that an alien strip in this format wouldn't work any better---especially seeing as they've never tried it.
  3. And if they want to give to the public something they like then they should look at the plethora of alien based web sites there are out there; when I did a simple Google search there were over 32 million of them---now that's just sites, not the people who read them.
  4. And finally, my biggest point is this: my cartoon strip Roswell is not about an alien and a wise cracking kid, and if the editors had bothered to even look at it they would have clearly seen that it is a strip about an alien teenager and his Big Foot teacher. Yes Roswell gets involved with our world but--- and this is the biggest bugbear of his Big Foot tutor who needs him to not be seen--- he likes to lead by experience. So the sight of Roswell working in a McDonalds, or in a call centre or selling you life insurance door-to-door would not be an unusual one. But none of these things would be based around a confused alien trying to understand our ways, it would be an alien joining in and seeing how much fun he can have before getting spotted. Its a buddy strip with no wise cracking kids, in fact the only regular and reoccurring connection he has with humans are the two FBI agents who are trying to capture him and keep him under wraps, a short sighted and slightly deaf old lady who thinks Roswell is her little Jimmy come back from the war and Bo and Clem, two mechanics working out of one of those desert gas stations in the middle of no where who do the many and varied repairs on his space ship, not once being fazed by the fact that he's an alien. And Roswell, eager to please as he always is, never questions how they can always fix his star ship with the spare parts from an old caddy out back. Then the final humans he has contact with are Abdul the Bomb-Bomb, an Al Qaeda terrorist whose plots destruction but fails, due mainly to Roswell's interference and Hetty and Filbert Spieglebeen. Hetty is a hoofer of a woman who has had some kind of past with B.F. that he doesn't want to talk about it and would rather be anywhere but in her presence, and Filbert is her weakling and innefectual husband.
In fact Roswell was more about how we perceive aliens than the other way around. We see aliens as poinkers of probes and impregnaters of susceptible young cheerleaders: who only want to be taken to our leaders and to crush us under their advanced war machines and laser rays. What the syndicates would've seen, if they'd bothered to look further than the cover letter, was a strip that was more about the relationship of a tired and defeated Big Foot tutor and his new alert,
inquisitive, balls out teenage alien pupil. Of how this open and honest little personality just wants be be every one's friend.

They would've seen a strip of many tiers that has Roswell time travel, go back to his own planet and visit his parents---serious monk like creatures that float everywhere and are the leaders of the three planet system they run---they would've seen a strip that was about how other creatures from other planets may be more like us than we think. And as to having a wise ass kid teach them about us, had it never occurred to them, like it did to me, that maybe, just maybe a civilisation so advanced as to traverse the many billions of miles of light years needed to get here, and who have already supposed to have been here on countless other occasions throughout our history, might actually already understand us?

Obviously not. According to their narrow view point, these highly advanced sentient beings still need a baseball toting, bubblegum blowing wise ass kid to help them.

But this post isn't just about a gripe at big syndicates thinking in narrow and small minded ways. I appreciate that they have a lot to do and stuff  just gets lost under a pile of daily tasks and ultimately rejected without having a good chance to be reviewed. I also understand, probably more than they realise, that submitting cartoons to a syndicate is a crap shoot at best and expecting every single idea to be thoroughly vetted is a pie in the sky dream. But to reject a whole genre just because it might have a wise ass kid in it is just plain crazy .

But the real reason for this post is this: having learned about their somewhat jaundiced view of alien strips I decided to go it alone. I'm not going to produce it as a comic strip, I'm going to produce it as a weekly webcomic, very much like the Brabbles & Boggitt page we have every Friday. I'm going to make, as my next project, an episodical set of cartoon stories about the one subject that the great and unquestionable syndicate editors say none of you want to see...so lets see how it goes, eh?

And I promise you, no wise ass kids.

So keep coming back to learn more about the Roswell project. And of course all the usual stuff will be going on as I  keep entertaining you with my life, my ideas, my silly stories and my comics...and remember, its still all 100% FREE!!!

If you like my blog and the things that I say and do, please tell your friends; mention me on Facebook, Twitter and any of the other fine social media networking sites you use. I would love to have my work reach a much larger audience and although I could no doubt eventually get there under my own steam, I'll get there a lot quicker with your help, so please, please spread the word.

Thank you

4 comments:

  1. Awesome post and sad that syndicate bosses treat creative talent as shabbily. As you say, guidelines are good!

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    1. Thanks very much Leah. Yes it is sad but it has ever been thus, hence the mass exodus of talent to the net...no one can tell us we're wrong here

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  2. Hi Karl! I knew it was tough out there but the syndicates are being ridiculous! Who knows how much good quality stuff has never seen the light of day because of their shortsightedness? How many potentially great artists have given it all up because someone couldn't be bothered to even glance at their hard work? I'm all angry now!
    I look forward to Roswell which I'm sure will be as endearing as Brabbles & Boggitt are! Kind regards, Brian.

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    1. Hi Brian,

      Always great to hear from you. I know it used to frustrate me so much, especially when they continue to trot out cartoons that are more than past their sell by date and refuse fresh new ideas.
      I swear if they hadn't had such a blinkered approach then we wouldn't have the vibrant on-line community we now have.
      Cartoonists are moving in droves to a place where they can showcase their work as they want to see it and not how the PC press and frightened syndicate editors tell them it has to be. Also we can connect with our fan base much more readily, as you and I do regularly, Brain. So all things considered, maybe it was for the best
      Cheers
      Karl

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