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You Won’t Have Dave Kellett To Kick Around Anymore

And with this, we finish up your questions for Dave Kellett regarding syndication. Many thanks to Dave for his time and expertise. Many thanks to all of you who submitted questions.

Fleen: How did you come to get this weirdly unique syndication deal? Who approached whom? How long were the negotiations? Did you get taken out to dinner? Were there side dishes?

Kellett: When I was finishing up grad school in England, I started submitting Sheldon to US syndicates. Amy Lago, the then-editor of United Media, contacted me to say that she really liked the strip, and asked if I’d be interested in bringing it to I saw this as a toe-hold onto that next step of newspapers … so I said yes. There was, I think, two rounds of contract revisions (nuthin’ fancy, per se), and the deal was done. Au gratin potatoes were served with a dry Pinot Noir.

Fleen: Can we get one good drunken Bil Keane story? Does he leave a dotted trail behind when he staggers from the bar to the bathroom?

Kellett: Bil is actually a stand-up guy. Really, really nice — and very funny. I don’t know what I expected before I met him, but he surprised me.

With a few notable exceptions, I’ve found most cartoonists to be really great people, socially. It’s that nice combination of introversion coupled with a sense of humor. Makes for nice people, I think.

Nice people…and/or weird guys that you never want in your house.

Fleen: Any thoughts on Tycho‘s blistering “Webcomics Manifesto” in Attack of the Bacon Robots?

Kellett: I think Tycho got it right. You want to remove any impediment to fandom in the way you structure your site. And subscription walls, limitations on what you can see and how you can use it … all of that limits fandom. I’ve seen that first hand with and the way they handle their systems.

The goal for a cartoonist on the web is not to have a readership, but a passionate readership. You want your readers to be evangelists for your work. And as Tycho said, that type of reader will find a way to support the work in any way they can.

Fleen: Last week, I mailed a feedback form on the comics to my hometown newspaper; in it, I recommended that 11 strips be ditched (including BC, Cathy, Garfield, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Curtis, Shoe, and Ziggy), four added (Fox Trot, Pearls Before Swine, Mutts, and Get Fuzzy), and that the remaining strips be given MORE SPACE. I know that it’s never going to happen; to your knowledge, has any paper opted for space over quantity? We’re not asking for 7 page Spirit stories or full-page Prince Valiant, just a bit more room.

Kellett: As far as I’m aware of, no paper has opted for more space for strips. I’m sure there must be one or two somewhere that have done it, but it’s probably a case of one good bit of news being drowned out.

That’ll do it for Dave Kellett, folks. With any luck, the next ‘tooner we interview will violently disagree with everything we’ve published so far, and we can sponsor a steel-cage death match at Comic-Con, winner to have his ass kicked by Bil Keane.

I’ve been trying to get my ass beat by Bil Keane for years, but he won’t respond to my heroin-fueled instant messages. Sign me up. Great interview, Davey.

Mutts is a truly amazing comic strip.

Mutts is not only a great strip, Patrick McDonnell lives one town over and recommended a vet that my dog loves. We’ve met the real-life Earl, and boy is that a sweet dog.

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