Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cartoon Stock Houses

Do you know about cartoon stock houses? There are a number of them, easily findable on the Web. They offer searchable databases of cartoons for clients (but that no longer makes them unique).

And they use cartoonists, obviously.

When I write that the stock houses "use cartoonists" that I really should italicize the word "use."

Most stock houses take 50% of the sale. Now, I just draw funny pitchers for a living and I'm no mathematician, but that's, like, half of your money if you're a cartoonist.

When I was first approached by a stock house, I was honored to be asked. It was a nice ego boo. I had only been cartooning a couple of years. The guy that ran the place (no names) had seen my Web site and liked what he saw.

But I didn't like the fact that it looked like this stock house and I would be competing for the same markets. Although, when I brought this up with the owner of the stock house in a phone conversation, he assured me that there were "my" markets and the stock house's exclusive markets -- and never the twain shall meet. I did not agree with him. I didn't sign the contract.

In the past year, I have been told about a very well known stock house trolling for clients by visiting major magazines and doing a pitch. These stock house reps, armed with a PowerPoint presentation and low, low prices, hold a meeting with editors and owners of the mag. The reps' goal is to get that mag to sign a contract to buy their stock exclusively, usually at cut rate prices, and stop dealing with individual cartoonists like me.

Of course, it's a free market. But if I was an editor, I would not buy from them.

The editor who told me about this (again, no names) assured me that the mag did not choose to go with the stock house. The editor felt that their publication would lose their unique editorial slant by going with a stock cartoon content provider.

But the stock house cartoon reps are out there, trying to do what all of us in business do: expand our markets.

One thing I want to point out is that there are independent cartoonists out there (I'm thinking of my pal Mark Anderson) who offer easy searchability of funny cartoons. And at least, when you buy direct from a cartoonist, you are supporting 100% of the guy, and his family, that you found so danged funny.

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