Chicken Karma

Chicken Karma

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Month to Remember! 

BUSHY TALES goes overseas and interstate!

In mid-October I nestled into my seat on the long-haul flight from Brisbane to Los Angeles, the first of 13 flights I would take in the next few weeks in North and South America and Australia.
The second, a connecting flight from L.A. to Vancouver followed just a few hours after the first flight, the two flights being separated by a couple of cups of coffee in an overpriced cafe in LAX.

The purpose of this trip was primarily to meet people that I am now dealing with in the Universal Uclick syndicate, as well as to meet the head of another syndicate that had been showing interest in taking on BUSHY TALES. And, as an additional bonus, I had planned on catching up with a couple of cartoonists that I had been having some wonderful contact with over a period of time. 
One of these cartoonists was the reason I found myself on a plane bound for Vancouver.

GRAHAM HARROP and "TEN CATS"

I had been exchanging emails with Graham for quite some time....since I first discovered his lovely strip, TEN CATS, and he first saw BUSHY TALES. I guess it has become a bit of a mutual-admiration society in some ways! In fact, we have even done a bit of "crossover" cartooning, featuring each other's characters in our own strips.
A recent example of Graham's TEN CATS - 
As well as this delightful strip, which won the coveted Reuben Award a couple of years ago for the best online comic strip, Graham is also one of the editorial cartoonists for the VANCOUVER SUN.
I was able to catch up with Graham on the day of the Canadian general election after he had finished his cartoon for the following day's paper...no prizes for guessing what it was about!

Anyway, Graham and I spent a delightful few hours together, enjoying good food and conversation in one of his favourite restaurants on the water's edge.

It was an honour for me to meet Graham and to get his encouragement and enthusiasm for the work that I do with BUSHY TALES. 

There were other things that I was able to do whilst in Vancouver (zip-lining up on Grouse Mountain etc) but the high point was the time I had with Graham talking about cartooning and life in general. 

From Vancouver I flew to Chicago where I picked up a hire car for a week, and set off for the next of my meetings....this time in Cleveland, Ohio.

CHIP SANSOM and "THE BORN LOSER"

As with Graham, Chip and I had been emailing for a while. it started after I had used the main character from TBL, Brutus Thornapple, in one of the BUSHY TALES strips. Chip loved it and we exchanged strips and friendship from that point.
THE BORN LOSER has been one of my favourite comic strips for decades. originally done by Chip's father, Art, THE BORN LOSER appears in over 1,000 papers worldwide. Chip started assisting his father with the strip many years ago and, then, when Art died, Chip continued the strip on. it is a readership favourite and a strip that people can readily relate to.

A recent BORN LOSER strip - 

Chip and I met at the Rock and Roll hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland...a great place to spend some time.
 
We enjoyed a meal and a couple of hours of energetic discussion on all sorts of things, particularly on cartooning and the changing world of newspapers and publishing.

Another good friendship was developed and, indeed, it felt like we had been friends for years already. 

Then it was back in the car and off in the direction of Kansas City, Missouri, the home of Universal Uclick Syndicate. 

UNIVERSAL UCLICK SYNDICATE

This is the syndicate (mentioned in previous blogs) that has BUSHY TALES under contract for worldwide digital rights. I have always been a person who values relationships and meeting the people that you deal with. So, having secured the syndication agreement with this company, I felt it was important to find my way to KC and say "G'day!". After all, the good people at Universal probably don't get to hear that all that often.

The syndicate has its own building in the middle of downtown Kansas City.
 
When I arrived everyone was abuzz with excitement. I was soon to find that it was not because of my being in town. Oh, no.
It happened to be that the first game of the World Series (baseball) was to be played in Kansas City that very night between the home team, the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. The World Series is, as the name implies, a series of games (best of seven) between the two top teams from the different baseball regions/competitions. The name, World Series, is a bit of a misnomer as the teams are all based in the US (with the Toronto Blue Jays included...maybe for that international flavour).

Anyway, I arrived at the syndicate and had a wonderful time being shown around and introduced to everyone (including John Glynn the CEO) by Shena Wolf, the Acquisitions Editor.

It was great to find out more about the syndication process and to meet the people that I have contact with in the syndicate.
Then, after work, we went for drinks at one of the local watering holes.....before everyone disappeared to get to the stadium for the game, or to get the best seat in front of the telly.
(I watched the game and, yes, it was exciting...going for a mammoth 14 innings instead of the normal 9 before a winner was determined. And, yes, it was the Royals who won this first game and who went on to wrap up the World Series.)  

RENO, NEVADA, and INK BOTTLE SYNDICATE

The last meeting I had arranged for this trip was with Bill Kellogg, the Managing Director of INK BOTTLE SYNDICATE. This is a smaller syndicate that gives more personalized attention to a small stable of features. it grew out of the success of the TUNDRA comic strip (drawn by Chad Carpenter) which became the world's most successful self-syndicated comic strip (over 650 papers) under the management of Bill. 

Ink Bottle Syndicate (read Bill) had shown interest in taking on BUSHY TALES to represent to newspapers around the US/Canada. Again, it was a good time to meet personally and discuss things directly. Emails are good, but nothing beats the personal touch, in my opinion, anyway.

It had been snowing around Reno for the last couple of days and the temperature was very, very low. But things were a lot warmer in the huge casino that we went to for a meal and chat (yes, that's all we did there).

The outcome of this meeting was very positive with Bill offering a contract to represent BUSHY TALES to the print media of North America. 

So, all in all, the purpose of my trip to the US had been successfully fulfilled. Hopefully, the activities and meetings of the trip will open doors and help further the progress of BUSHY TALES in the US and other markets.
I realize that nothing happens overnight in this industry.....but I hope that the foundations we are laying with BT augers well for the future of the strip.

After flying home I had just a few days before Robyn, my wife, and I set off for Melbourne.....

MELBOURNE and THE AUSTRALIAN CARTOONISTS' ASSOCIATION AWARDS.

There were two things that drew us (pardon the pun) to Melbourne. Firstly, our eldest daughter lives in Melbourne and it was an opportune time to visit with her. And, secondly, the ACA (Australian Cartoonists' Association) annual awards night, THE STANLEYS, were on.

The Stanleys are named after Stan Cross, legendary cartoonist of early last century. It is an occasion when as many of Australia's cartoonists as can make it get together for various activities, culminating in the Stanley Awards night/dinner.

The ACA happens to be the world's oldest cartooning association (previously known as the Black and White Artist's Club and other names). 

This was the first time in many years that I had attended The Stanley's, and there are many people in the industry that have "come along" since I was last at such an event.
But it was good to catch up with some old friends and to make some new ones, as well.

The personal highlight of the night for me was to named as one of the nominations for the Comic Strip Artist of the year.

I did not win the award (my good friend Gary Clark, SWAMP, did...again!) but it was a huge honour and affirmation to me just to be named as one of the nominations for the award by my cartooning peers. I hope that I can continue to build on the growing success of the strip in the months and years ahead.

So the past month has been a very busy one...but a very good one.
BUSHY TALES is steadily gaining attention and a place of its own in the comic strip world, and I am very thankful for that. It has taken a lot of work over the past few years. Speaking of which, I think another deadline is coming up and I need to get back to the drawing desk!

Until next time!

Joyfully yours,

Ian  


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