He came in like a wrecking ball

Today is “No Pants Day.” This is my contribution.

You’ll probably see a bunch of comic strips today where the characters are pantsless.

No Pants Day is held the first Friday in May. May 5 was Cartoonists Day and May 4, was of course Starwars Day – May the Fourth Be With You.

May is a busy month for the comics world – heck, my own birthday is this month and so many friends have birthdays this month.

Years ago, we used to have a “Gemini Party” where so many of us would get together and celebrate. One time we lined up for a photo – about 12 of us or so – in the order our birthdays fell on the calendar.

Anyway, “No Pants Day” was started by some college students in Texas in 2000. You might have seen the no pants subway rides – that is connected this some way.

May the 4th be with you!

We’re one today! Well, this incarnation of Tomversation is one.

On May 4th, 2020, I started publishing this incarnation of Tomversation, right at the beginning of the pandemic. This is the first cartoon. I started on May 4th, so that I would remember “May the 4th Be With You!” Although I don’t think I would have forgotten an important anniversary date.

A lot of the beginning cartoons were pandemic related, I guess it was easy to come up with those idea since that was an all consuming topic at the time. And it’s great to know we’re almost out of it!

Thanks for sticking around.

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What’s in a word?

Today’s Tomversation cartoon was influenced by the word, “orbisculate.” I got the idea from CBS Sunday Morning.

Growing up, Jonathan and Hilary Krieger’s vocabulary was enriched with a word their dad, Neil, used whenever a citrus fruit squirted you in the eye – a word they couldn’t find in a dictionary. Turns out he’d made it up! But with his passing last year from COVID, the Kriegers have set out to honor Neil by getting his word officially recognized by the publishers of dictionaries.

Their idea is to get the word used enough so as to make it become part of the English language. There is a list of uses they hope for and one was a comic strip. So I decided to accommodate them.

Here is the short story about it on CBS Sunday Morning.

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Art and history come to life

This is freaky, but interesting. I was flipping through YouTube the other night and this caught my eye and I couldn’t stop watching. Famous people’s statues are brought to life. It’s so real and lifelike, and spooky when they blink!

And here portraits are brought to life.

There are a bunch more of these here at Mystery Scoop on YouTube.

The Issue

Today’s comic about Bob’s issues, brought back memories of when I was a kid in elementary school, maybe even middle school, which we called junior high back then.

I didn’t get the idea for the comic from then, after I created the comic, the memories came back.

Back then, maybe I was 10 or 12, I can’t remember. My best friend Gary and I had a daily project we did called, “The Issue.” And what it was was a parody newspaper of what was going on in school. Each day we handed each other “The Issue” at some point during the day. You know, we each did our own issue and swapped.

I like the name, I don’t know who came up with it.

The Issue parodied people and events and things going on in the school. I vaguely remember it being on notebook paper and I think it was just the one page, back and front, and there were drawings and news and things like that.

All these years later I wonder where they went. Did I throw them out? Did we save them and they just disappeared over time, sort of like all those famous toys that seemed to come and go? Like what happened to all our toys? All those things going for hundreds of dollars now on Ebay, the ones we had, where did they go?

Anyway, I guess I was always meant to be in the news business, starting at an early age with the daily “Issue.”

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Naked and Afraid

I based the title of today’s cartoon on one of my favorite shows, “Naked and Afraid.” I actually like “Naked and Afraid XL,” better, but didn’t at first.

“Naked and Afraid” is about a man and a woman who are stranded in some god forsaken place with nothing and they have to survive for 21 days. There have been variations where there are three people, or shorter periods where fans take part, etc. Each week, it’s a different couple or set of people.

Then came “Naked and Afraid XL,” which I didn’t like at first, but then grew to love. XL is a continuation- it’s the same people in each episode for the season. It’s usually 12 people in groups of three and they eventually find each other and craziness ensues. Usually it’s people who are fan favorites or those who have been on the show before. Some times as many as five other times. They are sort of regulars.

I guess this all started with “Survivor,” which I still love, but “Naked and Afraid” is more raw, although I still can’t not picture the guy behind the camera eating a burger while the naked folks suffer from not having food or a drop of water for a week. Survivor has been on hiatus due to the pandemic, but Naked and Afraid seems to have found many strange and dangerous places in the United States, where this year’s episodes have been taking place. They are usually out somewhere strange in the world, but it’s been domestic this year and the regions have been just as dangerous.

I interviewed Ryan Holt one time – one of the regulars, because I thought he was the super hero of one XL season and then the day the interview ran he disappeared on the show, supposedly eaten by a lion in Africa. At least that’s how the cliffhanger was left. But of course he ended up being ok, since he’s been on future episodes.

But you always learn something different – like that Ryan didn’t get eaten, and you learn how to skin a snake and eat it and how to avoid wild animals, but it’s all about the interaction between people. One favorite Jeff, turned out to be a schmuck in one episode – he turned out to be a selfish jerk who would catch food and eat it in front of starving people without sharing – “Let them get their own.” I never liked him since then.

I recently learned that the canvas bags they carry around are not to hide their named bits, it turns out the microphones are in there! Besides, they are naked but you really don’t see anything, it’s mostly blurred out.

It really is about human interaction and survival.

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It’s all going the way of the payphone

I was thinking that I need to get new photos for press stories and things like that. In the past, the publications would send out a staff photographer or someone to take the pictures. I don’t ever remember sending in my own photos. Even news channels would send out a reporter or someone with a camera and they would film you somewhere. Now it’s all zoomed in. In the past a tv station would call me up about a local issue and ask if they could send a reporter or guy with a camera over – and more times than not, they wanted me in the center of town to do the interview. This is when I published the daily news and was considered some sort of know-it-all. I wan’t, but the media thought that.

So many old ways may be gone now that the pandemic has set new rules. And even before the pandemic things were disappearing. I think kids these days only know what a phone booth is thanks to old Superman tv shows and movies.

Newspapers and magazines don’t send out photographers for a quick photo anymore due to the pandemic, but – I think in the future we’ll just send in photos like we’re doing now, which saves them time and money. And of course printed newspapers and books are going the way of online and kindle. So many offices won’t return to normal. Why pay thousands of dollars in rent for an office when people can easily work from home? Like this cartoon shows, maybe only zoom calls will be the office norms from now on.

I was reading that shared touch screens may disappear – you know, like ATM’s and things like that. People will maybe use their smart phones to navigate through things like that. Many people order food online or on their phones and then pick up the stuff, I do that. I do it with Starbucks and Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Sweet Green and for many years, I would order food myself at the location, on a touch screen at Panera, which of course, may just end up being my cell phone since touch screens may be a thing of the past.

Recently when I went to the zoo with my friend, I purchased the tickets online. It was more about being sure we got the tickets since they are controlling the visitor count these days.

And handshakes, will they ever come back? I never was a big hand shaker or a hugger and maybe we won’t do that in the future. Maybe we’ll bow like they do in Japan. It seems more respectful to bow, doesn’t it?

I have not physically paid a parking meter for years. I pay for parking, but I use a phone to pay for it. And maybe there will be no parking meters in the future, since the phone knows when the meter is up and no one has to drive by to check on that.

Some years ago, a friend who worked at a bank, told me that bank tellers would be a thing of the past – and so they are. I take a picture of a check and send it to the bank that way, without ever stepping inside the bank. I transfer money, pay bills (and don’t use checks either, I do that online) and things like that.

That reminds me of when I was in high school, I worked at a newspaper and at that time we had to typeset and put everything together separately – the headlines, the main galleys/type, the photos, it was a jigsaw puzzle. Our boss told us of the future, where there would be something called “pagination” where the whole page would come out as one piece, we could not fathom that, we listened in awe.

My brother Chris used to be in the computer business, when home PC’s were all sort of new. I asked him one time if it was possible to have different fonts put in the system, so that when I was doing my graphics and newspaper business, I could use different fonts for ads, text, headlines, etc. He said it might be possible, but it would take some super programming to do! Ancient history now.

I walked into one bank that is a coffee shop, I was there yesterday, in fact. The first time I walked in a year or so ago, I asked where the bank was and someone pointed to one or two teller machines in the back of the coffee shop. So now banks are coffee shops, where you of course, can order your coffee on your phone.

I joke at my local Starbucks that the app is great – “I don’t have to talk to any of you this way! I just order and go!”

At Whole Foods in some locations now, you swipe your hand and you pay that way. I use Apple Pay and swipe that and I also use their QR code on my phone for discounts. Even the NYC subway now uses a QR code rather than a card to get on the subway. The card of course, replaced tokens.

At one hotel I stayed at, I used my cell phone to unlock my room door. The room key, became a key card which now became an app. I have ordered and bought plane tickets for years online or on my phone and at the airport I check in myself and don’t even use a paper boarding pass – it’s a QR code on my phone. The first time I converse with someone during this whole process is to say hello to the attendant at the gate as they check my boarding pass on my phone.

Real estate is selling online these days in a hot market. People buy from digital showings and don’t even show up at the properties. And cars! My next car will be bought online. And I’ll have it delivered to the house and have my old car picked up. Sort of like you buy mattresses now!

We order rides, we order food, we order groceries online and even read books (and comics) on our phones now. It’s all in our pocket – including zoom calls – you don’t even need a computer to zoom.

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Am I trending? They seem to think so

So I’m getting some European love! Nora Gouma, a fashion/people magazine did a little feature on me.

They had seen my Ten With Tom feature in the Huffington Post and turned that back on me and did 10 questions with me.

I hadn’t done the 10 With Tom feature for awhile, but the feature is still popular. I guess when people Google certain celebs, my column comes up, so it’s always got some traction. I may bring it back, I’m in talks with the Huff Post. I have a bunch of the 10 With Tom columns here in tact in this blog.

Anyway, I see from a few of my recent press articles, that I need some new pics. Because of the pandemic, they aren’t sending people out to take pictures and I have to send the pictures in myself. I guess this European publication would not have sent anyone, but the Miami Herald and others would have when they did stories.

Drawing Batman

Somebody posted an old 1966 review from Cleveland Amory in the TV Guide on Facebook, which reviews the new upcoming tv show “Batman.”

He talks about it being on two nights in a row and that if watch part 1 and miss part 2, oh well.

No VCR’s or DVR’s back in then.

I remember when I was a kid some time in the 1970s, there was a show I was watching, I can’t remember what it was, but when it was over, I said to my mother, “I wish I could just snap my fingers and be in California so I could see the show again when it comes on there during their time zone.”

I remember in 1979 or thereabouts one of my uncles got a VCR, that was the first one I saw I think, although I do remember in school they used to wheel in something similar on movie or documentary days, so maybe his was the first one I saw in a house.

One quote from the Cleveland Amory review says, “The whole show, on first impression, may not be as great.”

This of course, is my favorite Batman, and while I have drawn other versions, I stick with Adam West’s 1960s version when I draw him. I ran a Batman comic this week and have another one coming up next week. Too much?

Sometimes I wonder if I am stepping on their trademark.

There was this guy who used to do Charlie Brown-type comics daily. That was his comic – a retread of Charlie Brown. I don’t think he got away with it because I have not seen his work in a couple of years.

Selling crypto art

I was talking about online comics and wondering how to make money at it and I think the future is NFTs – which are non-fungible tokens. This is a method to pay for original digital art sold through crypto currencty.

You may have read recently that Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, sold his first tweet for $2.9 million (in NFTs). The actual first tweet ever was sold. I don’t know how you sell a tweet, but it was done.

It seems that things can be sold now where in the past that was inconceivable.

The downside of digital art, as opposed to pen and ink or canvas and paint has always been that there was no original art. It’s all on the computer, there is nothing tangible. But now that non-tangible art can be sold through the NFT exchange.

Digital artist, Mike Winkelmann, recently sold a piece of digital art for $69 million.

CNBC sort of explains the whole concept of NFT’s here.

There is one concern about this selling of digital art – the rights. Who owns what? For instance if a syndicate owns or controls your cartoons, do they own the rights, or do you? A good reason for self-publishing and not being controlled by another entity.

I’m sure as time goes by, things will be more understood and perhaps I and other cartoonists can start selling the original digital pieces of our comics this way, and finally make a living at what we do! You know, maybe someone will like a specific cartoon and want to own the original digital piece. Hope so.