May 2008

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« Poster Child for Cognitive Dissonance | Main | Basic Instructions, Part 2 »



My advice is to read lots of instruction manuals and see how they do it. (Avoid the poorly interpreted ones, though!).

Consider this line from “How to remove clutter.”

“Take the items that you are removing and sort them into three groups. Items to throw away, items you’re giving to charity, and items you can sell.”

It could be rewritten as:

“Sort your items into three groups – (1) Throw away, (2) give to charity, (3) sell.”

Or maybe…

“Step 1: Sort your items into three groups.
• Throw away
• Give to charity
• Sell.”

It cuts the word count down, and it also looks more like a set of instructions (i.e. ‘Basic Instructions’)


[Scott replied, expressing deep suspicion that I was really the Dilbert cartoonist and not some a-hole yanking his chain.]

I didn’t know those two things were mutually exclusive. ;)


I think the strip lost a bit through the downsizing. It was still funny, but not as funny.

I would prefer it in the current version he's using, but I wouldn't begrudge him actualy... you know, making a living off of his comic.

Cristen Caine

I notice that Meyer is a morning person, as, I believe, is Adams. Another clue, perhaps, to the mystery of why some people make it and some don't (I'm currently a lapsed morning person, getting older, but I'm going to reclaim those mornings!).


I love basic instrutions. The bald headed dude looks and acts just like a friend of mine! I like the four panel format but I think the two panel sample works well, too. It's a good way to stretch one day's worth of material into an entire week!


My advice : don't sell it to anglo-saxons newspaper who are looking for single-panel strips like garfield or snoopy.
He should search for a publisher to sell it in book like "500 ideas to fritter away his time at work"

Most of french cartoons are sold in books, and (almost) never sold to newspapers.

Only bestsellers like asterix or titeuf are sold to TV magazine.

By the way if you think it is a wordiness cartoon, never read achille talon :D
( 7 millions of books sold )


"Over the course of the next few months I offered him some tips for getting syndicated in newspapers"
I hope for your sake that Scott Meyer asked for these nuggets of wisdom.

Consider his life before - happy drawing and creating cartoons for his own pleasure and profit - and now you are changing him into a deadline driven monkey as a syndicated work slave.
You're a cruel man Scott. I hope you don't come knocking on my door with any of your "free advice" or "Basic Instructions".

Perhaps you could do a Dogbert where he gives free advice and actually ruins someones life. No wait - you do that already.

Shit - you've become Dogbert !

I'm thinking that you are only trying to help him because he has the same first name as you ?


Your suggestions are better, though his strip still sucks.


At first I didn't think the strip was, a day later, I can't stop reading them. They are perfect as-is.


Yeah, help the guy out, make his day.

His comics are really good, i've already forwarded the link to a few friends.

You're one of the good guys Scott.


If I want to read, I read blogs and books. I prefer my comics to be the shorter strip variety like Dilbert. So I think the rewritten version of this new comic as a strip works much better.
It all comes down to taste. I never really liked comic books or graphic novels, either, but I adore huge books like The Stand.
The bigger 4 panel version would do well on the web, and I think likely attract people who enjoy comic books and graphic novels. But for newspapers and syndication, the shorter strip version is much nicer.


I absolutly love what he is doing, and I think I prefer it the way it is now..
That from someone how don't enjoy comics strips so much
(I prefer graphic novel).
In 3 panels strip it migth sell to newspapers but I think publishing it in magazines the way it appears now would bring him more fame in the long run.
As I'm not a USA resident, it's clear that it as a international appeal too.


Now that I can actually load it, the laugh out loud factor is quite high...I love it


I read one and then I couln't stop reading several others. This guy is good!!

Rudy Malmquist

I think it would be interesting to see what your comic looks like drawn in the 4 panel format with more text. Adams, can you cross over?


The guy is absolutely hilarious! His wife is pretty funny too (see the "How to have a guest cartoonist draw your strip" strip).

For those who don't like the four panel version for being too long, stop texting and farting around with Facebook/Myspace and read a book once in a while. Having the attention span of a retarded goldfish is nothing to boast about.

I think Scott is right that the altered strips will work well in newspapers - they are just as funny as the original format. But Mr Meyer shouldn't give up on the four panel variety - they would work very well with all sorts of merchandise - and might find a space in a Sunday strip or the back page of a suitable magazine/specialist newspaper (although I can't think what that might be at the moment).

Suki the Ocicat

Scott M can draw and is talented.
Yet just for the sake of the marketability, he can delete explanations altogher. Please think of Haiku poetry. Very short phrases with striking implication - affluent images automatically filled in the readers' mind or something like that.

Now everybody add him to your MySpace friends!


Blasphemy!!! Scott, this little blog spot of yours amuses me no end. Your comics do not. To even imagine for a second that you are in the same league as Gary Larsen is just pure masturbation on your part. Enjoy the sensation bro.

Scott are some things I learned about the readers of this blog.

They are inpatient, don't like to read, can't understand 'complicated' plots in a comic, don't have time to read lots of words (then why are they reading this blog I wonder?).

Basic Instructions is really funny. Like any comic, it is a work in progress, best of luck to Scott Meyer.

Mark Mattis

Hopefully, this attempt to "help" a young cartoonist turns out better than the way you "helped" unfit.


This is one of the funniest comics I have ever read. 'Nuff said.


I think the strip is really funny. And the format change can work because the current style gives him about twice as much material for the new format. He can visit a subject 2 or 3 days in a row.


Oops, now you've done it Scott - recommending a comic that's even funnier than yours! Still, don't worry; I even find Garfield amusing ;)


I don't get it ... Phil Collins is the shit.

This is funny stuff! Teach a child about sex ... and not about the facts of life. bahahahahahaha!


Hmmm everybody seemed to have missed your point on "trying to give advice on how to improve its marketability"? Anyway, my first thoughts:

The first one could have a funnier last panel, the response of the guy should also contain a physics reference or something. ("change is only relevant to who observes it" ? I'm not the cartoonist here)

The "tomorrow..." text is obsolete, nobody cares. The less text a cartoon contains, the better!
Related to that: the "how to..." title should maybe span all over the 3 panels, or maybe even just be above the comic? The less text is in it, the better. Maybe just call the comic "How to..." and only include the rest of the title in the first panel?

Loose the gradients. Newspapers dont print gradients.


Your going to have to do some marketing magic to get this one published I think. When I first looked at the comic, I was like ‘What the hell is this’ I didn’t even want to read em, something just put me off about them. However, I after I read a few I found myself laughing at a high percentage of them. I read thru a ton in the archives.

I just don’t know how your going to get the average joe-reader to give it a chance....

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