I’m going digital with the newspaper

I’ve decided to dump my Miami Herald subscription, which it pains me to do since I don’t remember ever not receiving a daily newspaper delivery, even from when I was a child. But the newspaper is not arriving! I’m paying for it but it doesn’t come. We had a problem last month, it sort of got fixed, but it’s happening again – no newspaper delivery.

I can’t understand how a major metropolitan newspaper can’t get the newspapers out! Where are those newsie kids when you need them?

Anyway, I’ve decided to let my subscription run out next month and then I will just read the paper digitally. You can read the actual pages on line by subscribing for a nominal fee and it’s got all the things the printed paper has – the news, the comics, the tv listings, sports, etc. And there are even about a dozen pages or more in the back of the daily paper with extra things – sections called “Extra” which has commentary, opinion, science and technology, business and more.

And what I love about it is that you can enlarge it to easily read it.

I’ve been checking out other e-editions of  daily newspapers online and there are many around the country that don’t charge to read it, which is interesting. I’ve always loved looking at other newspapers. I like seeing which comics they publish and see what the comics pages look like and also I like to see their tv listings. I don’t know why, I just do.

Now this is not just reading the online edition, this is online, but it’s an e-edition, which is the digital copy of the printed issue, so you flip through the pages like you would when reading the actual printed copy. I do it with the old Brooklyn Eagle, remember, I told you about that?

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Steal like an artist!

book2I read these two books by Austin Kleon “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work!”  Austin is a writer and artist who lives in Austin, TX. Yes, Austin lives in Austin. I’m still looking for a town named Tom to move to. I know of a Tomball, Texas. I’ve been called Tombo and Tomo, never Tomball though.

They are both quick reads, one book took about half an hour to read, the other about an hour. “Steal like an Artist” basically says that there are no original ideas – everyone steals from each other. Truth be told, I have a couple of comic strips that I like, mostly the drawing styles, and I try to emulate them while designing and creating my new comic strip. I didn’t look at is as stealing, I see it more like inspiration.

In the book, Austin says, “”First you figure out what’s worth stealing, then you move on to the next thing. That’s about all there is to it.”

But isn’t Lana Del Rey having this issue with Radiohead and the “Creep” song? One of my favorites by Radiohead. Lana is being sued by Radiohead for similarities in Lana’s “Get Free” song.

Anyway, I love the Steal book, it has a lot of useful information for artists and creative people. William Ralph Inge said, “What is originality? Undetected plagiarism.”

I’m not for this plagiarism, I am more about getting ideas and studying those who inspire you.

book1The second book, “Show Your Work!” is all about that – sharing your work – not just the completed piece, but show how it is created, show your concept along the way. Don’t be stingy, reach out to your fans – interact. There’s a lot in the book about social media and how it influences people and puts people together. Austin is keen on Twitter Meetups, I didn’t know that was  thing anymore, but I do remember going to a few in the early days.

Austin says that a good idea is to immerse yourself into someone or that inspires you. If it is an artist, learn about them, learn everything. Then find three people that this person loved and learn about them, and so on and so on. I love this idea.

The book gives quite  lot of good info on how to get your work out there and how to interact with people and fans who will move you along your way and up the ladder to success. But the object is not to dwell on money or success, that will come with time if you Show Your Work!

Loving this cartoonist roundtable

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From left: Tom Heintjes, Brian Walker, Greg Walker, Jeff Keane, Mason Mastroianni. Photo courtesy of Hogan’s Alley.

I read a really great interview in Hogan’s Alley, where editor Tom Heintjes sat down with some famous cartoonists,who took over the family business from their fathers and grandfathers. Jeff Keane of Family Circus, Mason Mastroianni of B.C. and Brian and Greg Walker who are Mort Walker’s sons, who work primarily on Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois sat around a table and talked.

They bring up the dynasty aspect of cartooning, something that has always bothered me. When a cartoonist dies, should the strip continue? Did it run its course?

Greg Walker says, “We’ve got to do quality work, or papers will drop us like crazy. We did come in with a nice list, but there’s the pressure to maintain it.”

I never really thought of that. It has a leg up being a popular strip with lots of newspaper subscribers but as one of them said in the interview, “When you’re at the top, there is only one way to go.” But on the other hand, newspapers are loath to drop a comic because losing just one subscriber over that is not acceptable, so I do think that some of these older strips just stay there year after year because the newspapers don’t want to make waves by dropping them, even if it’s only a handful of people who read a particular strip.

They all agreed that the older strips mixed with the newer strips make up a complete comics page and there is something for everyone that way. I’ve always agreed with that, I just felt that the older strips should be the original older strips, not an extension by the second, third and sometimes fourth generation of artists. And don’t get me started on those who buy gags. To me a cartoonist writes the strips and draws the strips, sometimes along with someone else, but purchasing gags just makes the cartoonist an artist, not a cartoonist.

Brian Walker says of his dad Mort Walker: “My father has been asked millions of times why he doesn’t retire, and he says, ‘Why should I retire? I’ve got millions of readers who enjoy my strip!’ Why should he retire just because he’s getting old? When he started out, in 1950, he was competing against Pogo, Li’l Abner, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie. None of those guys quit to make room for him — he scratched and clawed for every one of those 1,800 papers.”

The roundtable interview is here. It’s really good.

The Beaux Arts Festival

I went to Beaux Arts Festival of the Art on Saturday, the yearly show at the University of Miami, now in its 67th year. It’s the first arts festival of our festival season, coming up through the winter will be other yearly events.

We always see people from our town there – showing their art and strolling the festival and we eat everything in site from conch fritters to ice cream bars and everything in between.

Women and comics

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Courtesy AP

There’s a new exhibit at the Library of Congress called, “How Women Broke Into the Male-Dominated World of Cartoons and Illustrations.”  I would love to see this next time I’m up north.

This is Dale Messick, who created and wrote and drew the Brenda Starr comic strip. I never knew if Dale was a lady or man as I read the strip while growing up. It seems like it was geared toward women, but I think I read all the strips in the New York Daily News when I was a kid.

I love this photo, I always like to see cartoonists in their environment. It’s sort of like seeing behind the scenes of a movie set.

Smithsonian.com has the whole story of the women and cartooning here.

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I bought Silly Putty

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I just bought Silly Putty. Remember this? Remember how it used to pick up newspaper comics? I wanted the original one, shown here, below. But I couldn’t find that. So I got this version, which supposedly is the real thing. I’ll let you know when I feel it and smell it, and try it on the comics.

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