Every Newspaper Needs Comics or Cartoons

Every newspaper, small or large, should have a comic page, even if it is only one single panel cartoon.  Why?  Because comics are one of the most popular features in a newspaper and encourage readership. Even though publishers may not experience any immediate revenue from a cartoon feature such as they would from paid advertising, the comics still contribute to more income in the long run. The more overall interest a publisher can generate in his paper, the more readers he will have, and the more interest advertisers will have in supporting his plublication. Nobody buys a newspaper just for the comic page, but they will gravitate toward the newspapers that are the most interesting overall.


Of course the big concern most newspapers have, especially the smaller ones, is how are they going to pay for it?  Syndicated cartoons are the least expensive option, however even syndicated cartoons and comics can become costly. One of the largest syndicates, King Features, has recently announced a new program, Comics Kingdom, which is designed to bring in advertising revenue for newspapers,  shared with the syndicate. Currently this service is only available to the nation’s largest newspapers, which doesn’t help the small publisher.  In fact, if you look at the syndicate’s price structures, the smaller papers pay proportionately more than larger papers for syndicated content.

There are some things smaller papers can do to alleviate some of this cost and still enjoy the  benefits of a comic page.  Rather than compete for the most popular comics, a newspaper can publish some of the lesser known, and less expensive comics.  For example, Johansen International Features offers Belvedere,  a series about a mischievious little dog. This feature was created by the late George Crenshaw and has been in syndication for over 30 years. Although it is not one of the most popular features, it still has a following.  There have been a couple of instances where newspapers tried to cut the feature to save money, and had to change their mind because of protests they received from their readers. Aside from it’s lower popularity, one reason this feature is less expensive than most is because it is no longer being drawn and the cartoons that are published are re-runs of cartoons from the past 30 years.



There are some webcomics which may be less expensive than the larger syndicated offerings. In
selecting one of these comics, however, the publisher must make certain that the comic is in good
taste.  Some of the comics you find online may be offensive to newspaper readers, or worse yet, to
newspaper advertisers.


Here is something else to consider. For a little bit more a newspaper can get custom cartoons which may be even more valuable than the syndicated comics.  For example, a paper  may want an  editorial cartoon concerning a local issue. Another popular feature could be a weekly sports cartoon which focuses on local sports personalities —  high school or college stars, or even Little League players.  By featuring a different local player each week a newspaper can generate  interest that no nationally syndicated feature could match.


So how you do you pay for this, the publisher may be asking. For one thing, without a syndicated
contract a publisher is not required to publish a cartoon every single day.  A newspaper could publish once or twice a week and still maintain reader interest.  If the feature generates enough local interest advertisers may pay more for a premium spot next to the cartoon feature.  Better yet, one of the paper’s local advertisers may choose to sponsor the cartoon in return for concessions on their advertising rates.

Most cartoonists are willing to do custom local cartoons for newspapers. By shopping around
publishers can find cartoonists who offer a good price yet still offer professional quality. Most cartoonists will offer a better price to newspapers who are willing to purchase cartoons on a
regular basis or in volume.

Comics are fun.  Readers love them and the newspaper publisher who adds them to his paper will be laughing all the way to the bank.


Ron Coleman has been a freelance cartoonist and writer for over 40 years. His work has appeared in hundreds of magazines, newspapers, books and on the internet. He offers more information about newspaper publishing on his website: http://newspapers.colemantoons.com”>http://newspapers.colemantoons.com