This week is a re-run week due to the fact T and I missed a deadline amid the transition from United Features Syndicate to Universal Press Syndicate. For those of you out of the loop (which is pretty much everybody), my syndicate of the last 17 years has gone out of business. Over the Hedge, as well as the rest of United’s line up has moved to Universal Press.
This was not a surprise. Syndicating newspaper features is a dying business. Fewer and fewer people are reading newspapers, which means fewer and fewer ads, which means less and less money for the necessities of life like comics. And the digital side is not picking up the slack.
This is one reason why I started RingTales with my partner Jim Cox. Animated comics seem like they might have a future. We’ve had over 260 million views of over 1000 of our short (30 seconds), animated comics since March 2007.
I enjoyed working with United. They took on two of my strips (Committed and Over the Hedge) in two years back in 1994 and 1995. Committed was a modest success and spawned a prime time animated series back in 2001. I ended it in early 2006 when the Over the Hedge movie came out. United worked with me to help get both of the projects made. They were flexible and accommodating when they didn’t need to be. And I will always appreciate that.
I had the pleasure of working with some great editors and management at United. Diana Lovey, Amy Lago, Lisa Wilson, Mary Anne Grimes, Reed Jackson, Doug Stern and the late Sid Goldberg all helped realize the potential of my work. There were some rough times, especially in the beginning, when I was often a pain in the ass. But over the years (especially now that I’m a producer of sorts with RingTales) I’ve come to appreciate the difficulty of their jobs. It’s hard to be a cheerleader for a struggling team. Or a successful team, that’s never satisfied and always wants to improve.
So, lift a glass, or five or six, to the fine folks at United Media. Best of luck in landing safely and successfully. I hope they all, like I have at times, come to appreciate that when you stop banging your head against a wall it tends to stop hurting.