Thursday, January 29, 2009
A longtime reader shared a letter he wrote to his local altweekly, which doesn't actually carry Slowpoke. It's very well-written. I've removed specific names, because somehow that feels more appropriate.
SUBJECT: The value of cartoons in an alternative weeklyWhile I, of course, am delighted to be mentioned in this letter, I hasten to emphasize that this is less about me than making sure our whole genre doesn't disappear. Other altweekly cartoonists like Max Cannon (Red Meat), Derf (The City), Lloyd Dangle (Troubletown), Tom Tomorrow (This Modern World), Matt Bors (Idiot Box), and Ruben Bolling (Tom the Dancing Bug) have been weighing in recently.
Here's something interesting I just remembered: not too long ago, I came across a copy of Boise Weekly. It was their first post-holiday issue, and it was a scant 28 pages. But it had tons of cartoons. Not mine, mind you, but it was still heartening to see so many comics. Clearly that paper has a different survival strategy.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Some of the characters in the second panel are based on people in the photos I took on Inauguration Day. Little do they know!
On a totally unrelated note, as I sit here in the midst of a two-day long spell of freezing rain -- I can't believe winter isn't over yet. Seems like it has been cold and bleak for long enough.
Monday, January 26, 2009
I'm still incredulous, but 2008 wasn't a bad year for me, business-wise -- by the low standards that apply to self-syndicated altweekly cartoonists, that is. Hell, I made more money than Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers, and Bear Stearns combined!
This year, however, is starting out on a semi-sucktacular note. As you may have heard if you read other cartoonist blogs, the Village Voice Media / New Times chain of newspapers is putting all their syndicated cartoons on hiatus for the first quarter of '09 at least. This affects me less than some other people -- I only ran in the Voice, and somewhat sporadically at that. I also recently learned that The Satellite in Gainesville, FL will be shutting its doors soon.
Now, cartoons are cheap content that keep a certain number of readers habitually picking up the paper week after week. Those readers might not take the time to write the editor if they disappear; they'll just stop picking up the paper. Or they'll write us to complain. I do understand that low ad revenue means low page counts, which means space is at a premium. (Space is a mysteriously complex issue even in "normal" times.) But it seems to me that the few crumbs -- and I do mean crumbs -- these papers save by axing cartoons is self-defeating. Heaven help us if the cost of cartoons makes or breaks the industry.
I'm actually not as pessimistic as some people about the fate of altweeklies. I think the web blows as an advertising vehicle for local businesses -- who doesn't tune out the ads on a cluttered web page? If I owned a restaurant, I would rather put my money in a print ad. I actually look at the more interesting print ads. Altweeklies are community, and advertising in one makes you part of that community. If the papers can hang on through Great Depression II: Revenge of the Credit Default Swaps, I think they'll do okay when the economy improves. At least, the ones that aren't leveraged up the ass.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
You may remember the panel from my cartoon a couple weeks ago, which speculated on the odds of people requesting to be buried with their electronic gadgets. Well, reader Ben has informed me that this is, in fact, already a trend. MSNBC.com reports:
“It seems that everyone under 40 who dies takes their cell phone with them,” says Noelle Potvin, family service counselor for Hollywood Forever, a funeral home and cemetery in Hollywood, Calif. “It’s a trend with BlackBerrys, too. We even had one guy who was buried with his Game Boy.”Turns out that, aside from being really stupid, this trend is environmentally problematic (though the linked post does not go into much detail about what I assume is an issue with toxins leaching into the ground).
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Well, that was exciting. I'm back home from DC, where I succeeded in my mission of watching the inauguration on a JumboTron while freezing my ass off. There were many logical reasons not to go, and I'm glad I ignored all of them.
Driving into DC on Monday was a piece of cake. Easiest trip into Washington ever. Getting to the Mall on Tuesday morning was a bit more complicated. You might have heard about the 68 year-old woman who fell onto a Metro track in front of an oncoming train at Gallery Place/Chinatown. I happened to be on that train. It suddenly came to a halt as it approached the station, leaving us stuck in the tunnel for several minutes. Then the conductor came through the train, ordering everyone out through the front car. We had no idea what was going on; we figured there was some kind of security threat. Everyone calmly exited the train, and on the way out my friend Warren saw the woman lying on the platform. Fortunately, she escaped with minor injuries, having been ordered by a quick-thinking police officer to stand underneath the platform as the train went past her.
The incident did, however, fubar our plans for getting off at L'Enfant Plaza. We wound up walking a mile and a half to the Mall, wending our way through the streets in a mighty river of people.
The walk was pretty entertaining, with all the street vendors hawking Obamaphernalia, and the occasional proselytizer trying to drop some religious lit on passersby. There were also the trash cans...
You may have seen a pic of this can already on the NYT reader photo album, but my shot has even MORE garbage!
Owing to our detour, we arrived somewhat late on the scene. The Mall was packed all the way from the Capitol back to the Washington Monument. We parked ourselves next to said spire (where Mom and Pop Slowpoke got engaged some forty-odd years ago, incidentally) and struggled to see the JumboTron over the heads of The Tall People. The guy on the left in the crinkly blue hood was the bane of my existence for a long time.
When you have trouble seeing the JumboTron, you know you're in a big crowd. The mood around me was ebullient and a little snarky. When Bush came on the screen, people erupted in choruses of "Na na na na, na na na na, Hey-ey-ey, GOOD-BYE!" Pastor Rick Warren received a smattering of boos too, I am pleased to report.
Here's a shot of the crowd starting to leave, taken from in front of the Monument.
Did I mention it was cold? It didn't really hit me -- more specifically, my extremities -- until the long walk to the Dupont Circle Metro. Nevertheless, it was a great day to be in DC. It seemed like there wasn't a single Republican in the whole city. As I discussed with my friend and generous host Warren, there was something almost utopian about the streets overflowing all day long with happy people of sane political persuasion. I've never seen anything quite like it.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I could write a lot about this strip, but I'm in DC right now for the Inauguration, and need to get some shuteye so I can get up early tomorrow. Yes, like a fool, I am going to the Mall to watch the swearing-in on JumboTrons and freeze my ass off, just like the people I poked fun at in my "Year Ahead" comic. I'll post a report here when I'm able.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This whole thing started as a vehicle for drawing Obama emerging from the P-Funk mothership. This would be my second cartoon featuring said spacecraft, though the first is so old, I don't seem to have a GIF handy.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
The financial crisis explained -- well -- in comic form. It's longish, so set aside a little time for it.
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Apropos of the panel about Twitter in my "Year Ahead" comic (see previous post), I had to share this bit from yesterday's NYT about Shaquille O' Neal's Twitter habits. The person speaking is O'Neal's PR rep.
“It is a perfect match between someone who is larger than life and has a great personality that people are drawn to... There are people in China who have contacted me who want to spread Shaq’s tweets world round.”
Here's that two-pager about 2009 I drew for C-VILLE Weekly.
Friday, January 02, 2009
I've just been on vacation, sort of. I'm in my secret underground bunker out West. In between watching stupid movies and drinking microbrews I can't get on the East coast, I completed a big two-page comic for C-VILLE Weekly, which I'll hopefully be linking to soon. Meantime, enjoy these classic colorized Slowpokes!
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