Upon returning from a family vacation in Door County (where I consumed more than my fair share of cherries and ice cream), I decided to check my e-mail, which I hadn’t done in about five days. Among the avalanche of over 1,500 messages, (about 80% of it being spam) I uncovered an e-mail from my licensing agent in New York. It happily reported the news of our first sale. For those of you with puzzled looks on your face, we signed an agreement with a licensing agent whom we met in New York City at the National Stationery Show a few years ago. Licensing is the process by which companies who MAKE stuff buy the rights to use characters and images that they can put ON their stuff in the hopes of selling MORE stuff. Think of the glut of Spiderman merchandise you’re seeing right about now on everything from sandals to cereal boxes. (Did you know that Garfield products rake in between $750 million and $1 BILLION each year?) Anyway, our first licensing deal has been struck. No, you won’t be seeing Kim & Jason action figures in your Escape Adulthood Adult Happy Meal any time soon. The first deal was made in – are you ready for this – Japan. Yes, the mugs of Kim & Jason will be featured on Japanese photo albums and school yearbooks. Go figure. What’s even more interesting is that the agency I’m working with has expanded their territory in Asia and my rep expects to see even more action from my line over there. A few years ago, I got some interest from a different Japanese company who was disappointed to hear that I had already signed with a licensing agent because they were interested in representing me in Asia. Apparently there is something about Kim & Jason that is striking a chord in the East. Perhaps we have a reverse Pokemon on our hands? In any case, I’m pretty excited about it, and hope to get some more offers stateside. Unless I figure out a way to get past my disdain for sculpting, I’m relying on some sort of a licensing arrangement to make my dream of producing a line of collectible figurines come true. My rep DID mention a few hot leads here in the states, but those are still pending. Most of the success with any of this (especially in the United States) revolves around awareness, which is the hardest thing about what I’m doing. I can almost ink the comic strip in my sleep, but getting the word out about it feels harder than climbing Mt. Everest blind and barefoot. When I lay awake at night with my mind all abuzz, the one prevailing train of thought that seems to roar the loudest is how to better promote Kim & Jason. The people who know about it seem to love it, but I often feel like an auctioneer in a mall at Christmastime with nothing to use as a megaphone but an old toilet paper roll tube. Frustrating, to say the least, but the challenge also energizes me. As we continue to work hard, and do smart, creative things, I know we’ll get there. I’m not sure if we’ll get to the point of seeing suction-cup stuffed Stinkys clinging to the windows of every van and Volkswagon, but I suppose Japan is as good a place to start as any.
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