Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Donna Lewis' Reply All vs Reply All Lite (updated 2x)

by Mike Rhode

This week, the Post switched from Donna Lewis' Reply All comic strip to her Reply All Lite comic panel.

I asked Donna if the panel was a modification of the strip, or all new, and she told me, "All new.  Never the same punchline as the strip. It began syndication March 20th, 2013 – after a year on the Internet."

"After I had been doing Reply All comic strip for a while, I began having lots of material I couldn't use at the time. Also, I needed a lot of practice learning to draw so I was drawing a lot of one off bits. At some point, I began posting the single panels for practice and to use material I liked and to build my Facebook audience. We realized in pretty short order that single panels get shared much more than strips, probably because there's no click or major investment of time required for a single panel. I was able to use the single panels to build my Facebook audience and, ultimately, the Lites were a whole lot of fun." 

I wonder if you're the only person to do the "same" strip as 2 different offerings. Some cartoonists like Wiley draw them so that the strip can be cut into a panel, but I've never heard of anyone doing it like you are.

"I just have a lot of material. I usually do 14 Lites a week. And, quite frankly, some punchlines are far funnier by themselves. Four panels are really much different (for me) than one panel. No set up puts all the pressure on the punchline. They're really fun to write."

I checked in with Amy Lago of the Washington Post Writers Group syndicate about Reply All Lite.

She says, "Lite has more of an online presence at this point.  The only place it’s running in print is the Washington Post.  Panels are notoriously harder to sell (because papers tend to run fewer), so that’s no surprise.  Our thought at the Writers Group was that Donna was creating them anyway, so why not try to syndicate them?  And judging by their popularity online, it was the right move.  I’m just not sure printed papers will catch on, though I’m thrilled the Post likes them."

Amy also says "I can’t think of anyone else who’s done two different versions of the same strip at the same time either," but D Heine has suggested Joe Martin's Mr. Boffo.

updated June 4, 2015

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