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Tandra Page 1540, January 7, 2018

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This commentary is titled; FORTY-FIVE

Forty-five years, almost half a century! That is the measure of time I have been writing, drawing and publishing Tandra. How time flies when you are having fun!

When I was much younger I was a big fan of the syndicated comic strip “Dick Tracy” in the local newspaper. For those of you with no idea of the rise and fall of newspaper comics, comics came to be as a newspaper circulation builder. In a city of several dailies, and that included most cities of any size back in the day, you could read stories of murder and political corruption in any of the several newspapers available, but you could read your favourite comic strip in only one publication. That is the way syndicated comics were set up. When the editor of the Daily Blab bought a comic strip from a syndicate salesman, he bought exclusive license to run that strip within his area. The Daily Gossip was forbidden by contract from access to that specific comic feature. Editors fought over license to publish popular comic strips because comics boosted circulation and boosted circulation gave excuse for raising advertising page rates for local business advertising.

The stakes were increased with the introduction of adventure comic strips. Whereas previously readers looked at “Happy Hooligan”, got a chuckle and went their way content, the adventure strip left readers in suspense. Dick Tracy was hanging by a vine over the edge of a five hundred foot cliff and the vine was starting to break. Would Dick Tracy fall to his death? Readers could hardly await the next day’s paper to discover Dick Tracy’s fate. Editors loved readers standing in line eagerly awaiting the next day’s newspaper.

But times change.

Producing a daily comic strip with no allowance for error is a demanding task and creators found they could hire talentless hacks for a pittance and go off to play golf. While no one might notice at first their favourite strip had declined in quality, readers eventually discovered the Dick Tracy appearing daily was not the same Dick Tracy that had earned their loyalty. Readers lost interest. At the same time, the cost of newsprint was increasing and editors were demanding comic strips of smaller size. Large and luxurious illustrations were being reduced to postage stamp dimensions. After all, comic strips cost money to run while ad pages brought in revenue. Newspaper ads were a far more efficient use of expensive newsprint. Additionally, with newspaper circulation on decline and daily newspapers consolidating or ceasing publication, the competition between newspapers was not so keen. If your city now has only one newspaper, why bother to employ comic strips for circulation building? With no competition for readers, comic strips are a waste of space and money. Today, except as a traditional public service in newspapers, syndicated comic strips are pretty much a thing of the long dead past.

I grew up with a burning passion to have a syndicated newspaper comic strip. I submitted samples of numerous titles to every newspaper syndicate I could find. But the day of the newspaper comic strip was past by time I came to the field. I received by return mail form rejections and nicely worded personal rejections. But I received only rejections.

I was working a day job in an art department when I heard that a newspaper guy was planning a free ad paper that would include some editorial content. The deal was that advertisers would pay the freight and the paper would go to every residence and business in the city at no cost to the recipient. I knew a guy who knew a guy who knew the publisher and I contacted him with my idea to add my comic strip to his editorial content. My sales pitch was that free newspapers get tossed into the homeowner’s yard and get picked up and tossed directly into the trash. My comic strip would inspire those who found the paper in their front yard to open and read the free paper. Said the publisher; “Sure, go ahead.” I was half way home.

“Tandra” appeared on the Editorial Page of the paper. I don’t know the size of the Tandra Readership because the free ad newspaper sank faster than a boulder tossed into the ocean. Obviously an excellent adventure (At least Tandra was excellent to my eyes.) comic strip could not save a free paper the recipients thought of as yard litter.

If I could not create a successful newspaper comic strip, I decided to take a chance on the comic book market. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had been doing interesting things at Marvel for a number of years, so I packed my bags and art samples and set a course for The Big Apple. Because of dumb luck or because Stan Lee was desperate, I walked into Marvel Editorial Offices and showed my samples and walked out the same day with a staff position. Actually, in those days, the Marvel Editorial Offices consisted of one office about the size of a walk in closet for Stan Lee and a larger room divided into partitions for everyone else.

Marvel was a wonderful experience for me. It was the best job I ever had working for someone else. The high point was getting to know then editor Roy Thomas. Roy was publishing a private magazine on his own and he revealed to me that the cost of publishing his product ran only to a few thousand dollars! That was Godsend information. Previously I thought the cost of publishing was far beyond my modest means, but not so. I did not have a few thousand dollars in my pocket, but I could acquire that much. Such a sum was not beyond my means. I was in business!

As stated, Marvel was a wonderful experience, but New York City Winters go on forever and I am, at heart, a Southern Boy. I came back South to Tennessee and took a “day job”. But Roy Thomas had shown me the path, so I licensed a couple of high recognition comic strip features from King Features Newspaper Syndicate and included the Tandra Strips from the failed free ad newspaper from years previous to fill out my self published magazine and I was off to the races.

This was not intended as a two part history, but it’s working out to be so. Next installment; “Tandra And Me”, adventures of a self publisher or how to squander tons of money at light speed.

May the sun always shine on your parade!

Next Week; Ever wish the lid could be ripped off Hell and men allowed a look inside? Be here for the next best thing as we get an up close and personal revelation of the Workers’ Paradise as implemented on Tandra! Don’t fail to read Tandra Page 1541. Check in beginning Monday, January 8, 2018. Experience the continuing story updated every day at

“Even God can’t please everyone, so I don’t try very hard.” - Traditional


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