May 2008

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« Basic Instructions, Part 1 | Main | Message from Scott Meyer »


A. Wolfe

I personally don't think he should change a thing. I look through the comic section of our paper every once in a while, and on some occasions a laugh may occur, but for the most part what I see is just "cute". "Basic Instructions" on the other hand got a laugh out of me on probably 8 or 9 out of every 10 strips, and I went back and read all of them.

I would hate to see him change to be more like some of the comics that do little to tickle my funny bone.


IMO, he should NOT stick to relationship humor. i read the entire comic archives (like many others), and overall i thought the relationship humor wasn't really his strongest. i thought the funniest things were the generic ones, like "how to smile" or "how to tell a joke", which everyone does at one point but sooo many people screw up.

i didn't comment on the previous post, but i'm all for his original format. i think the wordiness makes it exponentially funnier, and i didn't really think the streamlined newspaper sized frames did the original ideas justice. also, the original format allowed a sort of comic build-up throughout the frames, which isn't possible in a smaller space.


Stay broad and go with the strip. The 4-panel hurts my eyes.

If you stay broad, you can do "mostly" relationship stuff and the door is open to other avenues. Why restrict yourself?

I like it very much. It's a cool angle and well executed.


Basic Instructions is perfect in its current form (I've been reading it since the beginning). It's a brilliant format, and is always spew-liquid-out-of-the-nose-funny (that's a 5/5), something that's harder to do with fewer words (and/or space).

The new strips, according to my own nose/liquid tests, in the smaller format don't have the same impact. I suspect it's the repeated hits of humour in the larger format that make it so damned funny. Spreading it over days just isn't the same.

(I find the same thing with Dilbert, which is why I read it a week at a time)


It would be a big loss to change the Scot's style anyhow.

Unless it is your subversive action to make his strip less funny than the Dilbert :-)

Bookmarked (next to dilbert).


Face it Mr Adams, Mr Meyer will soon be snapping at your heels!


Quick question, Scott.

What changed between 1996 and 2007? In 1996 you wrote a droll little forward for Guy Kawasaki's "Driving Your Competition Crazy" in which you explained that you don't want to help new cartoonists make it big because you don't want the competition. Yet here you are today doing exactly that. What gives?

I don't chide you for it. I applaud you for the transformation and I think few things could be better for modern cartooning as a whole than to have you start deliberately grooming and mentoring new talent. I guess I'm just curious what brought about the shift.

Jonathan Allen

Definitely stay broad. I'm already bored with the relationship stuff.

Kodjo Hogan

Relationship humor,

especailly the kind the everyone experiences but no really takes the time to think about.

Point: I had a quirky doorman who loved to talk, so when I had packages delivered he would talka hole in my head until i escaped. I eventually began to circumnavigate this problem by waiting until he was just about to leave to get my packages.

Stuff like that always makes me laugh


Yes, and are successful.

I don't know what PVP makes, my guess is over $100k. And PA makes enough to support 3 people full-time, plus they run a big expo every year, and the t-shirts, items and posters they sell do very well. My guess is well over $250k+ a year, based on traffic and banners and assuming some from sales of swag and such. Plus they are working on a video game that has a huge built-in audience, too. That will be worth a good amount, too.

Whereas newspapers are winding down.

I love Basic Instructions. Been reading it for months. Without him tapping into the gaming market, like PA and PVP, I don't see him growing online as big, for some time. But more and more "regular folk" will be reading comics online, and finding his work.

Bottom line, syndication has made you a millionaire, and congrats on that. We are entering a different era, and I'm not sure that's the way to go for future success.

Nonetheless your mentorship will be great for his work, whatever avenue ends up working for him.

Calvin Spealman

It is becoming one of the defining characteristics of the New Media that more people can make less money. To the eyes of the Old Media, this is obviously a Bad Thing. No one gets quite as much attention or makes quite as much money, but if you look at how many more people can make it at least to a good level, and you sum it all up, I'd be sure the overall industry makes more. To add to that, huge chunks of the money aren't going to syndication agencies and other central entities. More of the less money stays with the artists. The same is happening in moves from newspaper comics to web comics, music from CD to download, and sixty dollar video games being pushed aside for dozens of ten to twenty dollar smaller titles, each. The end is more variety, and a better chance of finding something that you like, more people make a living on what they love, and more of the profits staying with the people who are actually doing the creating. The old media will not go away for a long time, and we still need it, but the model simply changes. Cartoonists aren't supposed to make a million dollars a year any more, and that's OK if, instead, twenty or more cartoonists can make a very decent living with their craft, don't you agree?


I think Get Fuzzy has the potential to be a "mega comic"


Stay broad; relationship-based strips get stale & cliched fast.

I loved the strip, added it to my work favourites, e-mailed it home, and used it to bribe myself through the afternoon's drudgery.


He's good. But I don't think he's great. Compare him to the last comic you recommended, "Cow and Boy" and he comes out the clear loser. I think he has a better shot at success doing the internet comic thing, where there are plenty of fans who will visit his site, click on his ads, and buy his occasional books and calendars. I just don't see him appealing to a wide enough audience to get major syndication.

I can name several webcomics that are funnier just off the top of my head, and in the layout form you suggested (not the original, which was excellent for conveying humor) I really can't think of many recent newspaper comics that Basic Instructions is better than.

I think with the failing newspaper industry, syndication is unlikely to produce major benefits for a talented new cartoonist unless they can consistently rise to the level of recent successes like "Get Fuzzy", "Pearls", "Cow and Boy", or "Brewster Rocket".


I see his work as the large square, in the Onion and also on-line.


What is the pay rate for the free newspapers like City Pages or Metro Times? They use the square format for comics like Red Meat and Tom Tomorrow's This Modern World. Has a comic ever moved from one of those to a larger paper? I notice the format of Dilbert is different in some papers on Sunday - couldn't a large square/4 panel strip be possible?

I do like the larger lettering better - even on the computer it was a little hard to read what Scott was saying.

I don't care what the comic is about, but I would like it to keep the same art style, attitude, and viewpoint.


Why not pursue both paths in parallel?

He should stay broad. Different topics and subject areas keep it fresh.


Scott, you wrote
"Readers of The Dilbert Blog are far from a representative sample of the world,"

We may not represent the whole world but we are members of DNRC, so our opinion counts more than the rest of the world!.


This situation immediately reminded me of The Joy of Tech. See


Speaking from a business perspective, I think he should focus on one theme like relationships or business, and try to get syndicated. If nothing else, being syndicated would provide some guaranteed income.

But from an artistic perspective, I think he should continue with his broad focus and not get syndicated. I think it would really stifle his humor.


OK, this guy is good and his humor style is very similar to that of our own Scott's - 80% of the blog readers liked it and there were some very flattering comments. He is clearly competition in the making.

Scott (A), here is a suggestion - you hire him as your backup, train him to draw Dilbert, this way you can double your throughput. So when you are 200 years old with writer's block you could be living off of those strips and who knows, people might find a refreshing new perspective to Dilbert.


I think Scott's works are very funny.

1. I prefer Scott to stay broad on this topic
2. I prefer the original 4 sq format. It sounds funnier and more cynical.


Comic added to favourites!!

I'd got with relationship humour which can be linked into pretty much everything involving people do in their lives. Relationships aren't just between 2 people. You can have relationships between colleges, between friends, between you and your bankmanager. Plus you can have lots of spin off topics.

The thing about relationships is people can relate to them, they can see themselves in the position of the characters and grow a bond with them.

Have a theme that you follow goes along with branding, and creating a brand image helps A LOT!!!

Mr Adams has said that when he first started he found it weird that people prefered his comics about Dilbert's work life, since he didn't think those were his best ones. However they were the ones that people could relate too. Now look where Dilbert is.

Paul Roberts

Of course you've got to factor all the people like me who read (and in this case add the comic to my bookmarks, and would buy the book like a shot if it were to be available) but don't tend to comment.

Your final question can be paraphrased as the age old "should artistic merit be compromised for commercialism?" The answer for which is generally more affirmative in the U.S. than elsewhere.

I would, in ignorance, strongly suggest that not becoming the same as almost every other comic and being individual has to be a good thing. It worked for you.


Relationship humor does seem to be his forte; I'd make it the primary theme. Doesn't mean I'd suggest *only* using it, but primarily using it sure.

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