Magazine article Editor & Publisher

They Set Their Sites on the Web in 1996

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

They Set Their Sites on the Web in 1996

Article excerpt

In 1995, The wide world of syndication became acquainted with the World Wide Web. Last year, they became very close friends.

Several major syndicates started Web sites in 1996, or improved existing ones. Many syndicated and self-syndicated creators, and several cartoonist and columnist organizations, also put their URLs on the Internet. Some sites became hugely popular. For instance, the 21-month-old United site - with a major assist from its "Dilbert Zone" - now attracts more than 1.6 million hits a day.

Other sites draw a smaller number of hits, but still serve a valuable promotional purpose. A few are even starting to make money through the selling of ads and merchandise.

Syndicates also continued to develop connections with newspaper Web sites. More columns, comics and supplemental news service stories began running on at least some of these online entities. And newspaper sites were the targeted clients for products such as "UMNet" from United, the "WebPoint" content packages from Tribune Media Services, the online Bill Mitchell editorial cartoons from TMS, and "UClick Comics" from Universal Press Syndicate.

Universal also launched the Connect-Time magazine that is already being carried by over 50 newspapers with a total circulation of more than 6.7 million.

In addition, syndicates, self-syndicators and supplementals introduced a ton of columns about the Internet and related topics.

And, if that wasn't enough high-tech news, the Digital Features Consortium (comprised of nine major syndicates) released a survey showing strong newspaper interest in electronic delivery of comics and other features. Meanwhile, more and more cartoonists started transmitting their work digitally to their syndicates.

Also, more cartoonists started doing their own computerized coloring of their Sunday comics.

Even some print-related news a had digital connection. For instance, the "Dilbert" client list soared from 450 newspapers in mid-1995 to 1,400 last month - an increase at least partially attributable to the comic's Web presence and Scott Adams' e-mail correspondence with numerous fans.

It also didn't hurt that "Dilbert" was on the cover of the Aug. 12 Newsweek magazine and that Adams had two hardcover bestsellers: The Dilbert Principle and Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook. And the cartoonist signed eight-figure deals with HarperBusiness and Universal's Andrews and McMeel to do a number of other books in the future.

Speaking of books. The Deep End of the Ocean novel by Milwaukee Journal Sentine/TMS columnist Jacquelyn Mitchard shot to the top of bestseller lists after Oprah Winfrey chose it as the first title featured on her TV show's book club.

Garry Trudeau, another creator whose work has appeared on bookshelves, also ended up on supermarket shelves last year: Ben & Jerry's came out with a "Doonesbury" ice cream flavor. And, after numerous nominations, the Universal cartoonist finally won the Reuben Award as "Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year" at the National Cartoonists Society's 50th-anniversary bash.

Two other comic cartoonists also received high honors in 1996. "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz of United got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and "Mutts" creator Patrick McDonnell of King Features Syndicate received the Max und Moritz Prize for best international comic strip artist.

Also Jim Morin of the Miami Herald and King copped the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning and E.R. Shipp of the New York Daily News and Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service (KRT) won it for commentary. …

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