Scandalous stories in cartooning are rare but a few exist
Cartooning scandals are rare in the world of cartoonists and comic strips in general. But there are stories that will surface regarding some odd or nefarious activities and back in the late 1980’s into the 1990’s there was one in particular that was profiled in the national magazine for newspaper publishers Editor & Publisher magazine’s ‘Syndicates / News Services‘ section. It involved a syndicate lawyer who was charging cartoonists exorbitant fees for “representing” them in cartoon syndication contract negotiations.
Mind you, this was no small “job” the guy pulled off. He conned at least 25 creators into giving him money for so called “retainer fees” in order to get their cartoon comic strips and article content considered. I am not implying these creators were naive either….all are intelligent and talented people that he represented and in fact, a few names that he represented before, include Mike Peters of Mother Goose & Grimm, Bil Keane of Family Circus fame and even Gary Larson who created The Far Side.
Cartoonists need to beware of nefarious characters in the business
Cartooning scandals aside, I think there were some over zealous cartoonists (not the previously mentioned names, they were solidly ensconced in their own syndicated features already at that time) who were probably taken advantage of to the point this attorney should have been caught earlier. I’m sharing this from a time when print was king and the internet was in it’s infantile stages and comic strips were all the rage across newspaperdom and magazines and the like. I think this aspect alone, made it a ripe area for vultures to swoop in and take advantage of unsuspecting newcomers, looking for their chance. Mind you, this was the late 80’s and early 90’s when $1,500 and $5,000 bucks was a
good chunk. It still is, but the power of the dollars needs to be considered alot more nowadays!
Comic strip scandal stories are rare but look at your contracts
I post this article in the hopes that new authors and cartoonists will scrutinize any potential contracts that come in front of them and be certain, you know what you’re going to sign and what’s going to happen with those dollars. Even now, I see no reason why an attorney worth his weight, needs any kind of retainer in such a niche field. Cartooning scandals are few and far between, it’s meant to be a fun profession! Cartooning is meant to be fun for the cartoonist….not an aggravation. Thanks for taking the time to stop by the ToonBlog!