I thought it might be interesting to post my original submission to the syndicates.  It will take six more posts to post all of the cartoons,  so they will follow this one.  I sent this packet of six weeks worth of cartoons to all of the usual syndicates (King, Universal, United, Tribune Media Services, and Washington Post Writer’s Group) on January 2, 2003.  Of them, only Universal was interested in seeing more. 

Looking at them now I realized that most of these toons have been used (in some form) in Clear Blue Water.  Heck, most of them were used in the first year of the strip!  My drawing style has changed a bit, I used to be WAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY wordier (I didn’t like ANY white space on the paper it seems.  No breathing room at all), and I was both absolutely fearless and completely naive when it came to content and what could and couldn’t be printed in a newspaper. 

I had no way to color the Sunday’s (no knowledge of the process and no Photoshop) so I just sent them in black and white.  I also had no idea how big Sunday’s were, so I just made up a size and figured if I got accepted, I could just learn all of this stuff then.  And luckily, it turned out I was right.  The real size  of the Sunday’s is much shorter so I had to cut words and use less details than in these examples.  Eve’s hair is dark because I thinned out india ink with water and painted it in.  It didn’t work well because in some her hair is quite dark, in others, barely visible.   This is why her hair is white now in the dailies.  I don’t really like working with gray (I prefer black and white) so I rarely use it in dailies.  Also, Easily Offended Man used to be called PC Guy, but then someone mentioned to me that they thought there was already a Politically correct man cartoon character out there so I had to think up a new name.  I actually like Easily Offended Man’s name better NOW, but at the time I was quite disappointed that I had to change it.  Also, Eve starts out already five months along with here twins.  Over the development period, UPS convinced me to start the strip with Eve not pregnant and have her get pregnant three weeks in.

For my submission, I bought little clear plastic folders from an office supply store to send everything in.  First the  cover page, then the character sheets (there are WAY too many characters in my strip.  Conventional wisdom says to only have a few, but I didn’t know this at the time.  Good thing!  Otherwise I would have just worried about it), then the toons.  I stuffed them into a yellow envelope with my query letter, prayed over them, and sent them out.  (I put in all these details because I really like reading about this kind of stuff with other cartoonists.  My strip ultimately was not a commercial success, but I DID manage to become syndicated somehow– and this is my submission that got the process rolling.

Here’s my query letter.  I still think it’s pretty good (although it’s maybe a TAD verconfident and gung-ho).  I sent the same one to everybody but King.  King got a slightly different version because Jay Kennedy had liked my work almost a decade earlier, and I thought I had the best shot with them.  I have erased my address and contact numbers and the ones for the syndicates too.  Use your imagination to fill in the blanks.  You need to click on things to make them bigger.  Click once to see the entire thing, and if that’s not big enough, try clicking once more.  All the dailies will show up in one click, but you’ll have to click on the Sunday’s that follow sepeartely in each post.


Here’s my cover page.  The reason it says Clear Blue Water by Karen Montague, and then has my contact  stuff at the bottom with Karen Montague-Reyes (which I’ve erased) is because I was originally planning on doing the cartoon under the name Karen Montague (my maiden name).  I like the name Montague-Reyes .  I think it’s pretty and it flows well together, but it’s also a ridiculously long, complicated name and I have often regretted adding Reyes.  I should have either kept Montague outright, or gotten rid of it and changed my name permanently to Reyes.  I was going to go by Montague because I  figured it was just easier, and I thought it would give the real me more privacy (in case I was accepted) because Montague is a fairly common last name, while Montague-Reyes?  Not so much…  Anyway, after I was accepted Universal convinced me to keep Reyes since I was drawing a toon with a Cuban man in it and Spanish speaking children, and Reyes is a Hispanic last name.  At the time it made sense to me, but in the end, I dont’ think keeping it made one bit of difference one way or another in terms of actual SALES.



Here are my character sheets.  I knew there was going to BE a Fluff Boy, but I had yet to write any of his cartoons or draw him up so that’s why he’s just mentioned and not drawn.  My strip used to be HEAVILY into the superheros.  I was talked out of using them so much in the first year and I have just never gone back very much.  I’d like to bring ’em back out again.  I really need to start writing for them again.