Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Meet Top Syndication Attorney -- Who Cartoonists Will Soon Honor

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Meet Top Syndication Attorney -- Who Cartoonists Will Soon Honor

Article excerpt

Many readers are fans of cartoonists, and many cartoonists are fans of Stu Rees.

The San Diego-based Rees is an attorney with numerous artists among his clients. "I probably represent three-quarters of new comic launches," said Rees, speaking of the strip and panel creators for whom he negotiates contracts with syndicates.

His clients -- there have been well over 300 since Rees became an entertainment lawyer just over a decade ago -- aren't just syndicated comic creators. He also represents editorial cartoonists, Web cartoonists, magazine cartoonists, greeting card cartoonists, newspaper columnists, and others.

In addition, Rees has done pro bono legal work for the National Cartoonists Society for nearly a decade. That led to the recent announcement that Rees, 38, will receive the NCS Silver T-Square Award for service to the organization and cartooning.

"I've been perfectly happy to labor behind the scenes, but this is obviously a tremendous honor," Rees said in a phone interview with E&P. "It was completely unexpected, and I couldn't be happier."

The attorney, who'll receive the prize May 24 during the NCS Reuben Award weekend in New Orleans, has done various kinds of work for the organization. One task that stands out for him was resolving a complicated estate case after a cartoonist left a large sum of money to the NCS.

There are various reasons why the solo-practicing Rees has many more syndicated-creator clients than any other attorney.

For one thing, there are very few entertainment attorneys in the country who know much about newspaper syndication -- whereas Rees is an expert in that field.

"And most entertainment attorneys charge double what I charge," said the Harvard Law School graduate. One reason for this is Rees' awareness that most syndicated creators can't afford to pay as much in legal fees as a big company can.

Rees' awareness of a cartoonist's needs partly stems from the fact that he's one himself. He does law-related gag cartoons, illustrations for law books, and more.

"I know how hard it can be to create and sell cartoons," said Rees, whose work can be seen at Stus.com. "Cartooning is a great job, but it's still a job."

And Rees has been a fan of newspaper cartoons since he was a kid. …

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