Kids making and selling comics

comicsNext time I am in Brooklyn, I’d like to check out this comic book store called “Loot.” I saw a segment about it on the Today Show recently.

It’s not just a comic book store, but it’s a place where kids can sit around and create their own comics and the store will sell them! The kids keep 90% of the proceeds from the sale which is “loot” for them in the shop. It looks as if the place opened last summer.

There are over 3000 comics, mostly personal comics of owner Joe Einhorn, that can be bought or borrowed, like a library.

There are tables where kids can sit around and create. There are workshops, too where kids can learn the craft and where they are teamed up to create comic books.

The store has white walls and looks a lot like a gallery.

I would love to go and buy some of the kids’ work, I think it’s such a great way to encourage them to continue with their art. I’ll take you along when I get there.

My earliest memory involved a cartoon

fredflintstoneOver the years when I’ve been interviewed, I have been asked who my cartooning influences are. The first is Hanna-Barbera and next is Charles Schulz. I remember drawing Fred Flintstone as a little kid, maybe I was five years old or younger.

I think, because The Flintstones seems like it was for adults, so I am not sure why I would love it so much.

But I do know that my earliest memory of all time, you know, in my whole life, my earliest memory was me, at two or three years old, running around our Brooklyn apartment – naked – trying to get away from my mother, who was trying to get me in the bathtub and Huckleberry Hound was coming on the tv – the theme song was playing! I can sort of picture that.

huckleberryhoundI don’t think I have an earlier memory, so it’s quite interesting that a Hanna-Barbera cartoon is my earliest memory. Is that crazy? I’m surprised I didn’t draw Huckleberry all the time. But I do know I used to love those Hanna-Barbera cartoons – along with The Flintstones it was Huckleberry and Yogi Bear and Quick Draw McGraw and so on.

I’m trying to not change the subject of what’s happening in our country these days, but need to post here daily and don’t wish to repeat what you see on the news every day. It almost reminds me of Al Roker and the weather – the news people show murder, rape, riots and then, “Here’s Al with the weather!, which I’ve always found stupid.

Today’s political cartoons

I’m sick over what is happening in our country today. Here are some political cartoons that ran this weekend regarding the Minneapolis/George Floyd murder.

Do you get the gag?

who

I wrote about the “boomer” comment the other day and that makes me wonder, as I often do, “who is my audience?” I mean when you publish comics you have a demographic, but what is the audience if you publish a general interest cartoon?

I’m a boomer, but I do think younger. So can I combine the two? Will everyone get the gags?

I have often felt that if one or two gags get past a few people, so be it, it then becomes an inside joke, and I like that idea.

There’s a comic site called Comics I Don’t Understand. So I guess not every comic is understood and that’s ok.

My goal is to have readers of all generations. Why not? Today entertainment is segmented from movies to music to tv. There are so many different genres and they all cater to different elements of society. It’s micro-segmented. There was a time when there were a few tv channels and we sort of all watched the same thing, then cable came into being and there were hundreds of channels. I saw an ad recently for some sort of tv service that offered 2000 tv channels, is that possible?

Years ago I used to read the tv ratings in the newspapers. Once a week they listed the top 10 or 20 shows for the week – they had two lists – one for white America and one for people of color. And it always amazed me that they were nowhere similar. Seinfeld was number 1 on the white America list but at the bottom of the list or nowhere on the list for people of color! And vice versa, the shows that they watched, white America didn’t seem to watch.

Of course it’s the same with music, movies and so on.

share

I have more followers on Facebook than Instagram. I know that Facebook is not a favorite with the younger generation and Instagram is, so if I want that younger audience, I need to step up my Instagram game. But also, Facebook has a “share” feature which is used often on my work, Instagram needs a “share” feature. That will help tremendously. Look at this comic above, only posted 10 minutes on Facebook and already 13 shares! By the end of the day I expect over 100 shares. This is the beauty of Facebook.

You can see the Facebook site at facebook.com/Tomversation.toons and Instagram at instagram.com/tomversation.toons. By own cartoon website is at TomFalco.com.

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Hey boomer!

So I had to grow a thick skin when I published the daily news for all those years. It really got rough at times and I don’t think I ever really got a thick skin. My solution was to take my name and anything to do with me off Google Alerts. Seriously. Hide my head in the sand, that’s me.

spicy-dan-printBut now that I am publishing comics daily, I see it has come back – people leaving comments I’m not crazy about. One guy thinks I stole a comic from elsewhere, another doesn’t understand one comic and another called my one comic, the one about Dan and the angry spicy food which ran a week or so ago, “Boomer humor!”

Rather than get offended, which I did at first, I told him, wait for the next comic, you’ll really see boomer humor. And that was the Columbo comic. Speaking of this Columbo comic, a guy, a boomer in fact, commented that he hates Columbo and turns it off every time it comes on. I got offended at that. I really do need get thicker skin. I’m not even Columbo and I get offended!

colombo-printI’m guessing people know Columbo, even if they are 16-years-old, I mean everything is in reruns or available for instant streaming these days and if you don’t know Columbo you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am glad to get comments, it shows me that people are paying attention, you know, say what you will about me, just spell my name right – that sort of thing.

There is one cartoonist who on GoComics, has all comments turned off. I get it. I ran into him one time at a ComicCon and I didn’t really know what to say when we met, because I’m not really a reader of his comic so there was nothing to talk about, so I mentioned the “no comments” thing and we chatted about that for a bit. I guess it’s about putting your heart and soul into something and then having someone tear it apart, which I guess we are all guilty of on social media. It’s so easy to hide anonymously behind a keyboard.

The ‘new normal’

new-normalThis cartoon has so many different connotations from people. I changed the text at the last minute, originally it said, “Don’t you miss when only computers got viruses?” But that’s not true since people have always gotten viruses, so I changed it to this instead.

So many of the comments left by readers seem to have struck each one differently.  I saw it as both people stuck in a rut and the wife is constantly saying, “Be patient, it’s the new normal,” or something like that.

Others saw it differently. One lady commented, “Same normal for her: still picking up his crap.” I didn’t see it like that, I saw it as her being loving and handing him a mask so he could be safe. This reader saw it as if he dropped his mask on the floor and she picked it up and was handing it for him! Interesting.

Another person said they hated the phrase the first time they saw it. Someone else said, “They are trying to brain wash us with that phrase.” Another mentioned the Karen meme, which I don’t think I knew about before I named her. Many people repeated that they hated the phrase. Others said, “I like Karen,” or “Listen to Karen and wear your mask.” It could be the Karen meme thing that adds to the comedy, who knows, but people seem to relate to it. Also, I am wondering when they say they “hate that phrase,” do they mean anything to do with Karen or the “new normal?” Things that make you go hmmm.

Is Rob there to rob?

bank-color-print

This comic ran a couple of weeks ago and people loved it. It got a lot of shares on social media. But I thought of another funny version. See this one below?

It’s tricky when you have to read something because if it was on tv or in a movie, it could be taken as, “too,” as in “Are you here too, Rob?” and you would hear it in a way that would make it funnier – “to” and “too.”

bank-color-print2

Evolving drawing styles

I have so many comics that I did years ago that I would like to publish now but they are dated; not the content, but the drawing style. So I guess I need to redraw them.

I always love the original drawing styles of things – for instance when I see Family Guy or American Dad on tv, I love the originals from the first seasons – even The Simpsons and oldies like Popeye. There is something about them.

doonesbury

I love the original Doonesbury, which is sort of simple, but I like it more than the more refined look. Look at this old one, I think it’s the original one from October 1970. So simple, but I love it.

Every comic is like that, they all evolve over time. Well almost, if you look at Bringing Up Father, George McManus’ lines were impeccable from day one it seems; same with Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo, which is perfection.

I have a more refined look than I did years go, so after publishing those, I can’t really go back to the original look, there’s too much of a difference there and it throws things off. But this all of course happens with everything. Fine artists have evolved over time, it’s just natural.

Maybe I’ll show you before and after images some time, you know, of comics I did years ago and how I redraw them.

The anatomy of a cartoon

So I published two weeks of Tomversation comics. Love the feeling, it brings back memories of years ago when I published daily. I am good with deadlines, I published the daily news in our neighborhood for 15 years, published daily comics and also printed and published things for so many years, including school newspapers that I guess every day is a deadline for me.

Anyway, the first comic, the “May the 5th be with you,” started out differently and I changed and redrew it many times. The day before it was to be published I started playing with it. You can see some of the incarnations here. There were more with changes related to these.

These are the finished ones, after I thought I was done and ready for publication, then I went back and moved things around and in some cases just redrew from scratch. You know, when I had Obi-Wan Kenobi handing Luke the bottle in the one drawing, I was wondering why is he just handing him a bottle in the middle of nowhere. Then I thought of the bar and added a couple of musicians, but still it wasn’t right.

I didn’t want to end up drawing that chaotic scene in the small panel I had to work with, so I ended up with the two of them at the table with Chewbacca and I did leave out Han Solo, who I believe is at the table, too. It was just too busy for everyone and everything.

This is what I love about single panel cartoons, too. You have that space and you have to make best use of it. Some guy mentioned on a social media site that the cartoon is a copy of some meme. I don’t remember seeing the meme, but that is the one thing I don’t like about single panel cartoons, it seems that everything has been done before. I’m guessing the “5th be with you” part is what he is referring to in the meme, not the whole bar set up, etc. But this is my concept, from my brain and that’s how it came to be.

Anyway, as you can see, first it was just a bartender and a guy in the bar, then the bartender ended up with a Darth Vader mask on then it ended up being the wookie bar or whatever that is on Star Wars and on and on and it finally because what it is.

I usually take 45 minutes to an hour to complete one panel cartoon, this one took six to seven hours with all the re-draws and changes!

All dressed up and nowhere to go

I’m seeing and feeling my future and I like it. My goal is to cartoon full time and with this shelter-in-place going on, that’s what I am doing. Business is not good as we all know, so days are not hectic like they normally are. I wish they were because I need the business, but I like it being low key, too. I am getting lots of cartooning done. I like being home all day, too.

But it’s odd, and I am sure you are feeling the same way – you wake up in the morning and think, “What do I have to do today?” Then you remember – nothing! You don’t have to go to work or have the car washed, you don’t have to run out anywhere, there is nowhere to go. There is no pressure where normally you might feel something pressing on your to get done. There is nothing to get done!

What’s on tv now? Is there a podcast you like to listen to? Have you been cooking or baking? This blog – I’ve been posting daily or almost daily. In the past I would post once or twice a week. Now it’s all the time!

My comics have been becoming quite popular, I’m picking up fans on Facebook and Instagram and on my website TomFalco.com and I can see it growing and growing.

I was watching a sort of podcast/YouTube video the other day where cartoonists were being interviewed and they were talking about the pandemic. They all agreed that they were sort of drawn into it (no pun intended), in other words, they were doing comics on pandemic subjects. It’s hard to ignore. I’m going to possibly post two pandemic-related comics a week and the rest will be general interest, just so it doesn’t get boring.

The first week went well with four pandemic-related comics, the fifth was actually the “fifth be with you one on the ‘fourth be with you’ day.”