Ahh, The Perils of Being Too Far Ahead of Deadline

I am generally five to nine months ahead of deadline, which is unusual for cartoonists, who are generally no more than than two or three weeks ahead.  Most cartoonists would love to have this problem, but the truth is, it does create some difficulties.  Today’s strip is one such example.

Four or five months ago, I drew some comic strips where Rat was testifying before Congress.  These are the strips that are running today and tomorrow.


A few weeks after I drew the strips, I saw in the paper that Darrin Bell (“Candorville”) did the exact same joke, with comic strip characters testifying before Congress.

This illustrates some of the pitfalls of being so many months ahead of deadline.  For one thing, I can’t be as topical as everyone else.  By the time my strip appears, the news story I am commenting on is many months old.  And for another thing, if I do have an idea concerning something in the news, it will be 6 to 9 months before anyone sees my strip, raising the chances that someone else’s cartoon on the topic will run before mine.

Sometimes, I will try to get around this by substituting out strips for ones I’ve just drawn.  But even this is difficult, as the subbed-in strips still won’t run for 4 weeks or so.  Also, you run the risk of an error, where some newspapers don’t get the substitute and end up running your original strip that day.  Then you have some papers in the country running one Pearls strip, and other papers running a different Pearls strip.

In this particular case with Candorville, I contacted Darrin and let him know of the similarity.  He had a great idea, which was to reference my strip within his strip on these two days.  That way, anyone seeing mine today and thinking I took the idea from Darrin will see that we know each other and view the whole thing as more of a collaboration.  Anyways, Darrin did a great job on it, and it provides a second angle on what Rat is doing in Washington D.C. when not testifying.  You can see the strip here.

As an aside, Darrin’s strip also raises an interesting idea about something I’ve long wanted to do.  And that is to have five or six cartoonists all agree upon one event that they will cover in the same week of strips.  Take, for example, a bar fight.  All of the creators’ respective characters will be in the same bar, scattered throughout the bar, and will see the fight from their own individual perspectives.  In short, it will be like five or six separate cameras all covering the same event, but with different cameramen who all want to emphasize different things.  Each artist’s strips will have to be able to make sense on their own (because you don’t know which of your readers will see the other artists’ strips), as well as make sense in the larger context of this one common bar fight.  I think it would be an interesting experiment.

Hope nobody beats me to it.

32 thoughts on “Ahh, The Perils of Being Too Far Ahead of Deadline

  1. The funny thing about this – at least for me – is that THIS joke that Candorville did months ago is what got me into Candorville in the first place.

    A friend of mine last December (I beleive) showed me the strip which happened to have PBS’ Larry the Croc testifying before Congress.

    A week of crossover jokes later, and I was a Candorville fan, thoroughly enjoying its main cast of characters too.

  2. Pingback: CANDORVILLE daily comics by Darrin Bell » Archive » The Owl of Minerva, part 1

  3. bunches of creators doing a big bar fight, BRILLIANT idea Stephan, just brilliant.

  4. If you don’t want old topics running, why don’t you just put strips talking about politics, news, etc. in front of strips that don’t talk about that?

  5. if you are ever serious about getting that multi-strip-not-quite-a-crossover thing going, let me know. sounds like a neat experiment. i’d love to be involved.

  6. Hope nobody beats me to it.

    I’m afraid somebody did. Some guy from Japan called Akutagawa Ryunosuke. But he didn’t draw, as far as I know. So there’s still some novelty value here.

    I’ve never heard of any merchandising depicting the creator of said merchandising. So you might wanna rethink you plush line-up 😉

    Seriously, though: that sounds like a great idea!

  7. The Great April Fool’s Switcheroo of 1997 and Blondie’s 75th Anniversary in 2005 are, I beleive the two largest collaboration of Comic Strip Artists working together on the newspaper page.

    I also recall a April Fool’s prank that you, Darby’s Get Fuzzy and Amend’s FoxTrot did in 2005 as well. d:

    There’s definitely potential here, Pastis . . . I would totally love a comic smackdown — let’s finally see Garfield vs. Bucky . . . not to mention Rat finally kicking Mary Worth’s a**. And LIO . . . oh dear 😀

  8. Rashomon in cartoon? Awesome! I’ve always loved meta (one of many attractive features of PBS, especially those strips where righteous vengeance is brought down upon Family Circus). I could definitely see Pig falling for the medium.

  9. reminds of the time (april first?) when several comics all did the same gag with a Ouija board. I remember specifically Foxtrot and Get Fuzzy did it.

  10. I like what Larryneedcuppajoe said, perhaps you should try running strips based on current events sooner than the strips that aren’t. This way you’re still months ahead of the game, and you won’t have to worry about someone having the same idea as you like what happened here (although, I like the solution of having Candorville running a strip that shows an alternate view of your strip. It was a clever idea.)

    And I love the idea of having multiple strips showing alternate views of one event, that would rock! 😀 Maybe do it around some holiday? (maybe Halloween, and have all the characters involved with some Halloween-like event? Or we can stick to the bar fight idea, I like that too…)

    Not only would it be awsome to see, it would be great advertising for the the strips involved (“Hey, I’m gonna check out this strip just because ___(insert name here)__ appears in it!”) Unless that don’t work with comic strips? Because I know this works with American comics/Japanese manga…Ah well, still worth a shot, ya never know

  11. Mr. Pig isn’t coming down with the (Pearls Before Swine) flu in the next five to nine months, is he?

  12. Pingback: CANDORVILLE daily comics by Darrin Bell » Archive » The Owl of Minerva, part 2

  13. Nice to see that newspaper cartoonists are getting into crossovers. The “bar fight” idea is pretty ingenious. But of course, traditional comic books as well as amateur webcomics have been doing this sort of thing for ages. =)

  14. I like these crossovers. And I think the Big Barfight Mix would be great: a comic version of *Rashômon*!

  15. I’ve wondered whether you always have permission to run other characters (did Dennis sign a release to show him half naked???) And do you guys ever draw your own characters when they appear in someone else’s strip? (I heard, but not reliably, that it happened in the Blondie anniversary collaboration.) I remember that 20 years ago there were already a few crossovers, but the “guest” characters never looked quite right, being drawn by other artists. Either today’s artists are better, you draw them yourself in a pal’s strip, or reproductive media are simply better anad more available — ie, it’s easy to do a bit of cut and pasted friendly plagiarism.

  16. Maybe if you spent a little more time predicting the future, your strips would be a little more timely. What kind of person beats their deadline by two weeks?! A person with too much time on their hands, that’s who…

    How about some crossover strips with the guy that writes Peanuts?

  17. When I caught those strips, carried on the same page, I laughed at the first one (I think it was Rat testifying) and then practically lost it when I saw the reference in Pearls Before Swine.

    It was like a brilliant duet, each excellent as its on voice, but as a single unit, deadly.

    Do more of this. Have fun. Buy Dennis some underwear.

  18. The only danger with this concept is that your characters may benefit from the artistic abilities of other writers (in the form of nicer backgrounds, surroundings, supporting characters, clothes, etc.) and not want to return to your, how shall we say, typical settings.

  19. To use the hip computer-influenced lingo of the cool kids, the fact that Pearls is not “topical” is not a bug. It’s a feature.

  20. And if the barfight crossover ever happens, I will not only read it and enjoy it, I will purchase one of the limited edition reproductions, signed by all artists, containing all the strips, and hang it in my living room.

  21. Stephan,
    For me to say that I am your #1 fan would be an exercise in hubris and self-aggrandizement. Therefore, I won’t say it but I am. Your strip makes my day and hardly one goes by that doesn’t begin without Rat and Pig,Goat, Zebra and the Crocs and all of the other delightful characters that make us laugh prior to thinking of the implications of their words.

    You start with the laugh; the best way to make a point.

    Thank you ever so much. Perhaps, someday I will enjoy the privilege of meeting you.

    All the best to you and warmest regards,
    Jim Theriault

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