‘Diesel Sweeties’ Opts Out of Print Syndication
When Rich Stevens announced that his popular webcomic Diesel Sweeties was entering into a significant print syndication deal more than a year go, it was big — no, huge — news for webcomic creators and the online publishing scene as a whole. Last night’s announcement by Stevens that he was ending print syndication of Diesel Sweeties in mid-August might be even bigger news.
The situation, according to Stevens:
As of mid-August, DS is ending its run in newspapers and going back to being web-only! Why? Because I’m an optimist, I opted out.
In the meantime, long story short: This is my decision, I wasn’t fired, I don’t regret it and I’m not gonna blame anyone. No dissing Garfield. I am “crazy amounts of” looking forward to being my own CEO again. There will be nary a bump in schedule for the main webcomic.
While the statement Stevens posted on the DS website offers up a general idea of why he made the decision, his interview with Gary Tyrrell over at Fleen gets down to the details of the situation, including some thoughts on the difficulty for any new comic — no matter how popular — to get its foot in the newspaper door.
Overall, I think about 50 papers ran DS at one point or another. Some loved it, some hated, some didn’t care. It was a pretty respectable launch, especially in a down newspaper market. If I had no other creative outlet, I’d have stuck around. That’s a hell of a lot of people, even if they’re generally less interested than a web reader.
. . .
It’s natural in these things for us geeks to spring on the “Evil Syndicate“, but I don’t blame ‘em for anything. They can’t force editors to dump 80-year-old comics and they can’t legally kill all the rabid Snuffy Smith fans who would set the world ablaze if he ever left print.
I’m not saying they aren’t working on ways to kill these people, but I don’t think radioactive nanodagger ink is ready for prime time yet.
Given the status of DS as one of the most popular webcomics on the ‘Net, the question is whether Stevens’ decision to "opt out" of what was a significant print syndication deal in favor of online distribution says more about the current publishing environment in the print world or in the online scene.
Be sure to check out the full interview with Rich Stevens over on Fleen.