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Syndicated cartoonists ratchet up their online presence with free newsletters.

Cartoonists have about the same online goals as many newsletter publishers--more interactivity with readers and the promotion of ancillary products.

"Dilbert" creator Scott Adams has had an e-mail newsletter since way back in 1994, and he now boasts more than 400,000 subscribers. Frequency doesn't seem to be a priority--with only 39 issues posted between 1994 and 2001, and five or six planned for this year.

"I wanted to directly connect with 'Dilbert' readers so I could get feedback on the strip and they could get information about new 'Dilbert' happenings--books, web site, TV show, licensed stuff, etc.," he told Editor & Publisher magazine. "I figured that if I could make the newsletter entertaining in its own right, and free, then people wouldn't mind the not-so-subtle commercial elements."

Adams said he likes the newsletter because "I have few editorial pressures for timing or content. It's wonderful and rare for an author to have such a direct channel to so many people."

Other syndicated cartoonists with e-mail newsletters are Michael Jantze ("The Norm"), Hilary Price ("Rhymes with Orange"), Lynn Johnson ("For Better or For Worse"), Pat Byrnes ("Monkeyhouse"), and Lennie Peterson ("The Big Picture").

Many of them use Yahoo! for distribution. "I did self-distribute originally," Jantze told E&P, "but keeping the list current was nearly impossible. The disadvantage of using a free service like Yahoo! Groups is the pesky addition of an ad whose content you cannot control."
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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Mar 15, 2002
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