I can think of no better advice to give ambitious comic strip artists than to suggest that they steep themselves in the folklore of the funnies by visiting libraries, vaults and archives - anyplace where back issues of newspapers are kept. Begin with 1910 and follow the development of any of the great comic strips. Tad, Opper, Hoban, DeBeck and all the others left a great heritage for young cartoonists to follow. Follow it!
One great lesson emerges from a study of these masters. A truly good comic strip must have the breath of life about it. You must be able to breathe this into the characters you invent.
To succeed like their predecessors in the Cartoon Hall of Fame, they must "live" in the minds and hearts of their readers. For the truly great comic strip is not invented. It is conceived - as it baby is conceived by its mother.
This is a comic strip frame. Your job? To create pulsating life within and beyond its borders.
Does this sound like too big a challenge? If it does, try to remember that great fortunes have been made in this field of endeavor.
(P.S. The fact that these days you'll have to pay most of it back in taxes is another matter.)
Not only is there a lot to learn from cartoons of the past. The modern school also has some very valuable lessons to offer the young cartoonist. Take a look at some of the best strips in the papers today. Perhaps examining them closely will help you determine what kind of strip to do.
There is a lesson in almost any strip. Which one do you enjoy most? Study it with infinite patience and care. Try to figure out what makes it a success. Perhaps in the course of dissection, you will come up with the magic formula for your own success.
Most newspaper features including strips, are handled by syndicates whose sales staff goes out and tries to sell to editors all over the country, and in many cases around the world. The success of a feature depends upon its mass sales. Some comic strips are seen in as many as 1,500 newspapers. The syndicate collects fees from its newspaper clients, the size of which depends on their circulation. Large papers naturally pay substantially more for a strip than small ones. But it all adds up in the till.
Next: Political cartoons