With space for comic strips shrinking in newspapers and a slew of webcomics winning huge audiences, the funny pages on paper have been feeling stale for a while. After all, why bother to go through the difficult process of getting accepted by a syndicate -- one that rejected numerous creators that went on to webcomics megasuccess, like Tatsuya Ishida of "Sinfest" -- when you could instantly take your work directly to the web?

Perhaps Universal Press Syndicate is finally reading the writing on the wall, and hopes to inject a little new blood into the format through a comic strip talent search contest hosted at Amazon.com.

The contest will be judged by creators including G.B. Trudeau of "Doonesbury" and Lynn Johnston of "For Better or For Worse," and the Grand Prize winner will receive: "a publishing contract from Andrews McMeel Publishing, a $5,000 advance from Universal Uclick, and a monthly stipend for the development of 20 comic strips that will be considered for syndication."

Thanks to Universal's recent merger with Uclick, this could potentially lead to both print and digital syndication. The rules also specify that comic books, graphic novels and manga need not apply, and you have until December 31st to submit your entry. As always, remember to read the fine print about exactly what you're getting and what you're giving away.

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