In my ongoing reality series, I continue advising Scott Meyer on how to become a syndicated cartoonist. If you haven’t been following the story, start here:
Allow me to set the stage for today. Have you noticed that bad movies seem like good movies when you watch them on an airplane? Your context changes the experience. On a long flight, you are delighted about any form of stimulation.
When you judge the potential of comics, you have to make sure you have the right context. To make my point, here are a few of the original Dilbert comics I submitted to syndicates in 1988. These were reviewed by the top comic syndication editors on the planet, all experts at recognizing future comic hits. Only one editor, Sarah Gillespie, at United Media, saw potential in Dilbert and offered me a contract. The other editors passed.
Only one other syndicate gave me a personalized response. The editor helpfully suggested that perhaps I could find an actual artist to do the drawing for me. Ouch.
When United Media offered me a contract, I offered to partner with a real artist so I wouldn't embarrass them. That’s when a strange thing happened.
Sarah Gillespie said my art was fine.
Within a week, my art improved about 30%, simply because someone with credibility told me I was an artist. It was like my very own Wizard of Oz moment, where the Wizard told me all I needed was a syndication contract and I would become a talented cartoonist. In the following years, my writing and art steadily improved. It was the mid-nineties before Dilbert grew into something the public could embrace.
That’s your context for looking at Scott Meyer’s new batch of comics. The question to ask is “What could it become in three years.” Would he master the 3-panel strip form, and find the rhythm? Does he have the right stuff to develop the right stuff? Is he already there?
For your comments, please tell me your age and then list any comics currently IN NEWSPAPERS that you like better than Basic Instructions. That will be revealing.