By: Dave Astor
“FoxTrot” cartoonist Bill Amend has been thinking of turning his 1988-launched comic into a Sunday-only strip since … about 1990.
“The sense that this full-time pace wasn’t working well for me probably started about two years into the strip,” Amend said with a laugh during an E&P phone interview this afternoon. “I love newspapers and I love cartooning, but it takes me forever to do these things.”
Those “things” — seven “FoxTrot” comics a week — keep Amend at the drawing board for about 60 hours.
But Amend — whose comic becomes Sunday-only on Dec. 31 — said the idea to change his feature’s frequency really began “percolating” about three years ago. At that point, the cartoonist knew he’d have contract options with Universal Press Syndicate that would allow him make the change. And Amend, whose comic is one of fewer than 20 with 1,000-plus newspapers, is now more prepared to take what will be a significant financial hit.
Amend, 44, will “decompress” for about a month after the first of the year — reading, spending more time with his children, etc. Then the cartoonist plans to explore other creative options that he declined to discuss at this point.
Will the Sunday-only “FoxTrot” differ significantly from the Sunday episodes he’s done in the past? Amend doesn’t think that will happen, at least at first, though he does want to start coloring his own Sunday strips.
Amend added that the Sunday-only “FoxTrot,” because it’s the only comic he’ll do each week, might be scrutinized more closely than his previous Sunday strips.
The “FoxTrot” creator — whose comic stars the Fox family — doesn’t have many role models for what he’s about to do. One person who went through a somewhat similar transition was Berkeley Breathed, who did the daily/Sunday “Bloom County” and now does the Sunday-only “Opus” for the Washington Post Writers Group. Amend hasn’t been in touch with Breathed for tips about going Sunday-only — he doesn’t know the “Opus” creator well and the “FoxTrot” change was a secret until today — but the cartoonist said he’d be happy hear any advice if offered.
“I’m heading into uncharted territory,” he added. “I hope I’m not driving off a cliff!”
Actually, Amend feels he made the right decision.”I needed to slow down and add variety to my life,” the cartoonist concluded.