Back in October of 2004 the people of Keenspot announced a new service, Keensyndicate, that aimed to take some of it’s considerable library of web comics and turn them into a printed page for newspapers to use, essentially turning many web comic artists into professional, syndicated cartoonists. It isn’t clear just how successful this endeavor has been so far, I can only confirm one newspaper in California using the comics page, but it is clear that the folks of Keen are still moving the project forward.
This past week in San Diego during Comic Con it was announced that DJ Coffman of the web comic Yirmumah has been hired as a staff member for Keensyndicate. DJ, who self-syndicated his comic strip GRAVITY to 50 newspapers in 2000, will be joining the print syndication service Keensyndicate this fall in what was described as an “executive capacity”. He will head up the recruitment of new clients for the Keenspot Comics Page and other print syndication endeavors planned by Keenspot, contacting and meeting with editors across the country.
This is quite a bold move, not only by Keenspot, but for web comics in general. Previous attempts to take comics created for the web into newsprint syndication haven’t gone so well in the past, such as the lackluster and misguided Comics Shirpa and the attempts made by Scott Kurtz to offer his comic, PVP, to newspapers for free. However, given the new and creative business model Keenspot has set up and DJ’s past proven experience in the matter (not to mention his tenacious personality) this could be enough to make Keensyndicate a success.
How will newspaper readers react to a flood of new cartooning talent appearing on the printed page? Will newspaper editors be willing take this kind of chance? If newspapers do sign on how will current syndicated cartoonists react to the new web comic presence? Will the current comic strip syndicates see Keensyndicate as a threat and rival? We’re eager to see how this will play out and wish DJ the best of luck.