Bill Kellogg is a marketing machine. He’s been the driving force behind Tundra comics and most recently launched Ink Bottle Syndicate and ComicsShowcase.com. If you are involved with comics at all then you know his name. I asked Bill to give some insight into what’s happening with these exciting new ventures (and yes “Don’t Pick the Flowers has joined ComicsShowcase.com) and here’s what he had to say.
David: Hey Bill, such a pleasure to talk with you and learn about the exciting endeavors you have and will be doing. I guess the first place to start is Tundra comics and what your part with that is.
Bill Kellogg: Hi David. It was good talking with you too. I am the marketing director for Tundra Comics. It’s my job to try to get Tundra in newspapers, get book deals, licenses, and anything else where we might make some money. I started marketing Tundra just over five years ago and I had no clue what I was doing at the time. Not that I know what I’m doing now either, but I’ve learned how to fake it.
David: You also started Ink Bottle Syndicate, talk a little about that.
Bill Kellogg: Very shortly after we started getting Tundra in newspapers on our own, I started getting requests from other cartoonists to represent them. While I had some interest in representing other comics, I didn’t want it to adversely affect my ability to market Tundra, which is why I put it off for several years. Earlier this year though, with Tundra appearing in well over 400 newspapers and starting to do well with licensing, I discussed the idea with Chad and decided to start Ink Bottle Syndicate. With the help of Chad and a few others in the comics industry, we picked seven other strips that we felt were a good fit with each other, different enough from most of the strips out there already, and marketable to newspaper editors. This is not the typical syndicate though. I don’t have the money or the sales force that any of the real syndicates have, and truthfully, I don’t want it to get that big. My goal is to use the relationships and contact lists that I have built over the years with Tundra to try to offer some other great strips to the editors. It will be interesting to see how this goes.
David: Which leads to Comics Showcase…can you give more information about this website?
Bill Kellogg: As the marketing director for Tundra, my job is to look for ways to get more exposure for Tundra and find more ways to make money. As a cartoonist, your fans are going to be your best source for generating income. These are the people who will buy your books, t-shirts, calendars, or anything else you have to sell. They are also the people who will write to the newspapers to request that they add your strip, and pass the word around about your strip which will lead to additional fans. Comics Showcase was started for the purpose of helping cartoonists build their fan bases and get exposure. I encourage every cartoonist who wants to make a living from their comics to have a web site, Facebook pages, use Twitter, send out newsletters, etc. Use any means possible to get the word out about your comic.
In theory anyway, comics fans are generally fans of more than one comic strip. If everyone involved plugs the Comics Showcase site to their fans, some of their fans should become fans of other strips on Comics Showcase, and everyone should get more fans. This should continue to build on itself too. Though most of the strips on Comics Showcase are not part of Ink Bottle Syndicate, I do plug the site with my editor contact list periodically. This has already led to three strips not associated with Ink Bottle getting picked up by newspapers. We don’t take any percentage from any newspaper contracts either.
David: Where do you see everything going with these websites, what’s next?
Bill Kellogg: I think the Comics Showcase site will continue to grow over time. I’ve heard from a number of cartoonists that they have been adding lots of Facebook fans. Tundra has added almost 400 fans to our “Like” page and 100+ fans to our group page so far. My intent is to make it a source for editors who are looking for something different for their comics pages as well.
With Ink Bottle, I have several projects in the works that will hopefully get us some more exposure with the newspaper editors. We have picked up quite a few weekly papers so far and several dailies, but that is a long, slow process due to the economy and the current state of the newspaper industry. I don’t intend to add anything new until I see how it goes with the strips I have.
As far as other new projects, the only other thing we have planned is another “Success in the World of Comics” seminar. The last one went very well and we have a great line-up of speakers for the next one too. The information page should be up this week at www.tundracomics.com and on the Daily Cartoonist.
David: And it will be a success. A true pleasure speaking with you and to be a part of ComicsShowcase.com. It’s going to be an exciting time to watch as it grows.
And for anyone who isn’t familiar with Tundra, Ink Bottle Syndicate or ComicsShowcase.com here are the links to find out more.