What Happened to "the Hots"?

exhibit A:a rare specimen of the now-cancelled "Hots" comic strip.

That's right - we cancelled it. Which has led to many e-letters like the one below:

Dear Ms. Paley:

I was terribly disappointed to read in the Chicago
Tribune this morning that "The Hots" had been
canceled. "The Hots" has been the best thing in the
paper for the past year, and consistently the
sharpest and funniest of the comics.

If the report in the Tribune can be trusted, the
decision to cancel was yours and Mr. Hersh's, a
response to the slowness of the strip's growth in
the media. I am certain that you cannot have taken
this decision lightly. Still, doesn't the building
of a comic-strip's distribution always take time? If
I recall, several years passed before Bill Amend got his "Foxtrot" into the Tribune.
So it seems to me that you and Mr. Hersh were off to
a strong start. You have many thousands of loyal
readers in Chicago, at least--I don't know how many
other places--and I know I'm alone in wishing that
you would reconsider.


A Fan


Here is my response:

Dear A Fan,

Thanks for the note. I liked the Hots too.

The Trib's explanation was slightly off the mark. We
didn't cancel the strip because it wasn't growing fast
enough. We cancelled it because our list was in fact

Contary to popular belief, syndicated comic-stripping
pays next to nothing. A strip needs to run in about
100 papers to generate a living income; ours ran in
about 3. It was bought by some other papers, like the
San Francisco Chronicle, but they never ran it, and
dropped it as dead weight after a while. Even doing it
for a year was an extraordinary investment of time and
energy that was never justified by the paltry trickle
we got through King Features (though they did try
their best). It's true a strip needs time to build a
list of newspapers, but that time is subsidized by the
creators, not the syndicate - in other words, it
requires working very hard for many years without
adequate income.*

*I should add - the time is subsidized by both the creators
AND the syndicate (which pays something, if not enough),
though much more by the creators, in my opinion.
Especially the one who has to draw the things.-NP

Also, the papers that buy it need to run it in order
to build a fan base. With the exception of the Tribune
and 2 others, our papers never did that. We love the
Trib; if only we'd had a few more like it, the strip
could have survived.

I love Stephen's writing, and I know the world has
lost something special with "the Hots"'s cancellation.
My hope is that Stephen returns to drawing the strip
himself, as he did in his previous comic, "Bliss." But
he needs to make a living too.

I've gotten so many letters about this, I wish someone
would do a documentary about the contemporary comics
biz, so people would understand just how bad it is.

Thanks again for writing.




In other "Hots" news, I learned that many readers believed Stephen Hersh and I were more than professional collaborators - that he was "Max" and I was "Hannah." Sorry to rain on that parade, but allow me to set the record straight: Hannah is and always was based on Dana Hersh, Stephen Hersh's beloved and wonderful WIFE and the mother of their two children. I am not, and never have been, romantically involved with Stephen or any other member of the Hersh clan, although their 7-year-old son once asked if I'd marry him.

Hope that clears everything up. Eventually, "The Hots" should join "Nina's Adventures" and "Fluff" at CartoonistGroup.com. This fantastic web site archives work by several excellent cartoonists and has a state-of-the-art searchable database, so you can look up any strip by keyword or subject matter. They manage original art sales, too.



exhibit B:another example of the no-longer-being-made "Hots."