Where will cartoons go with newspapers on decline?
Newspapers are cutting back on their comics pages and falling back to a few proven comic strips such as Peanuts. With incumbent artists struggling to hold onto shrinking newspaper comic page real estate, where will the great new comic strips and their artists go?
Comic strips matter
Newspaper cartoons never made much money for artists, but can lead to bigger things. The #8 top-grossing movie of 2006 (with $330M worldwide) was based on the comic strip 'Over the Hedge' (DreamWorks Animation). Another 2006 comic strip movie, 'Garfield 2' (20th Century Fox), was #98. The first Garfield movie, in 2004, grossed $176M and was #36. You may be surprised the big comic strip money isn't in the movies either. In 1998, long before the comic strip 'Garfield' became a movie, the strip had already made $750M in merchandising.
Comic strips were pioneered by W. R. Hearst to sell newspapers in the 1920s. Today there are 263M newspaper readers in 111 countries, but that been in decline for years. The Internet is better and faster for news than paper newspapers. Comic strips haven't transitioned well to the Internet. Most of the comic strip sites are controlled by newspaper syndicates, not the greatest at choosing fresh material. For example, the comic strip for 'Superman' (the first superhero cartoon) was turned down everywhere for years and finally got published in 1938 as a comic book. That led to the D.C. Comics (Warner Bros.) franchise.
History of Superman
USA media reach
55M newspaper circulation USA
200M mobile phones USA
226M Internet users USA
248M TV sets USA
Newspaper circulation is declining alarmingly. Television is slipping. The Internet is peaking. Only mobile is on the rise.
Mobile has the most worldwide media reach
Worldwide there are over 2B mobile phones, 1.7B TV sets, 263M newspapers, and 363M magazines. Television and newspapers are crowded and losing ground. There's a tremendous opportunity to bring content to mobile screens. However, it isn't easy.
Obstacles to bringing comic strips to mobile phones
The screens are small and in many different sizes and shapes. Typical network bandwidth is less than 10kbs. Many carriers charge consumers too much for data (as much as 10 cents per kb). The carriers charge companies way too much to be listed in their program guides (50% of the gross typical). If not in the program guide then content is "off deck" where it can be hard to find. Program guides have become so crowded with junk that being listed is of little value anyway. And of course, it's always a challenge to offer great content.
The Comic Strip Network has overcome those problems through innovation and perseverence. We're excited to be serving free comic strips daily to mobile (and the Internet). Thank you for your support of the Comic Strip Network!