SketchCrowd Puts New Spin on Cartooning

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Media outlets and cartoonists to benefit.

An Atlanta area company called SketchCrowd, LLC is approaching old-fashioned comic strips with a unique twist. In 2013 the three-man shop is set to begin syndication of the world’s first crowdsourced comic strip. Crowdsourcing is an emerging business trend by which tasks are performed via freelance talent through open call rather than a contained staff.

The comic strip itself, entitled The Hootscow, will rely on single panel ideas submitted by independent and amateur cartoonist on SketchCrowd’s website. Visitors to the site are invited to review and offer feedback on submissions, which will be gleaned by the SketchCrowd staff for top quality work. Gary Larson’s legendary Far Side is the established standard, but The Hootscow (due to its long list of contributors) will maintain a unique feel.

SketchCrowd’s vision is to cultivate talented cartoonists and provide a viable outlet for their work. Cartoonists worldwide number in the millions and actively maintain nearly 100,000 comics online at a net loss. By offering a profit-sharing model, a forum for feedback and networking capabilities, SketchCrowd aims to establish viable markets for users and proliferate undiscovered talent into the mainstream media.    

SketchCrowd points out that the benefits extend beyond the cartoonists and into the struggling newspaper industry itself. “This is a great way for the printed media to affect their bottom line and establish more relevance,” says SketchCrowd President T.J. Kuehn, “Not only will they find quality content at significantly reduced cost, but this is a great opportunity to pique interest and involve local readers. SketchCrowd helps publications leverage their biggest asset: the piece of gold that is seeing one’s own work in print.”

The Hootscow’s introduction into weekly publications is the first in a series of steps that will take cartooning to a new level. The effort is as much a branding exercise as it is proliferation of a new service. SketchCrowd plan to expand into daily publications, smaller niche markets and to targeted local content. They also look to expand their appeal to a larger audience. “We want SketchCrowd to be the first place people go when they come up with a creative concept” says Kuehn. “Amateur cartoonists, housewives, mechanics – anybody who has that creative itch.”

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