The transformation of comic strips

There’s an interesting article in the Washington Post about comics and comic strips. Comic artists reflect on the year 1995, when there was a major shift in comics. That year, quite a few popular comics left the comics pages and people believe things were never the same after that, including the size reduction in the printed newspapers.

Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side and Outland, the Bloom County spin-off ended.

I remember at that time, I submitted my comic panel to syndicates and quite a few rejected me saying I was too much like The Far Side, which I took as a compliment! I guess I, like many others at the time, were trying to fill that gap. Now the comics are over-loaded with Far Side clones. I almost didn’t publish Tomversation when I heard that Gary Larson was bringing back The Far Side, I didn’t see the point. But in the end it all worked out, as The Far Side is not what it was in the 1990s and there is room for everyone.

Back then, it sort of was the end of an era. Now the comics are more intimate. Back then and before then, cartoonists were treated like movie stars, especially at the beginning of the 20th century. Their daily comics were seen by millions of people, literally millions – many strips were read daily by 50 to 80 million people daily. Imagine that.

A high-end talk show on tv these days is happy to have 4 million viewers a day! Now comics are on that level and more intimate. Because they are mostly digital now, each comic strip has its own intimate audience and the cartoonists have an open dialogue with the readers. I like that.

I mean, it would be amazing to have 50 million readers a day, but the intimacy makes up for that.

Hilary Price, who does the “Rhymes With Orange” comic strip says journalism’s digital transition has affected comics’ visibility “for the worse.”

She says, “For readers who get their news on a screen, online newspapers bury their comics deep in their websites, if they carry them at all,” Price says. “Sunday funnies don’t ‘wrap’ the Sunday e-editions. So as more people migrate to the screen, the comics are further divorced from the news-reading experience.”

This is where I disagree with Hilary on quite a few things. I believe that the printed comics are lost on most people because they are buried in the newspaper and are so small, you can barely read them. Also, online, I find it quite easy to find the comics on newspaper websites, it’s usually a link right at the top, many times under “entertainment,” where you find the comics, tv listings and things of that nature. One unfortunate thing about that is the link goes to one specific site or group of comics – like ComicKingdom.com or GoComics.com, so you don’t get a choice of all the syndicated stuff, but again, you only get a few printed in the newspapers anyway.

Also, most news readers these days get their news on social media, and the digital comics appear in people’s daily social media feeds along with the news. I don’t think many people go to the local newspaper sites to look for the comics page. I may be wrong, but I don’t see that as being the case. I read the Miami Herald, the New York Daily News, the Arizona Republic, the LA Times, the Chicago Tribune and so many other newspapers through social media, like many people. And I read the comics on social media, too, as they come up when posted on my feed.

And try reading the comics in the newspapers and you need a magnifying glass – they are stamp size! So for those who still read the comics, or try to, in the printed daily newspapers – that is where the issue is. They are treated like second class citizens by the way they are printed and handled.

I showed this image in the past. These postage stamps are larger than some of the comics in the Miami Herald!


Berkeley Breathed, gets it. He has adjusted to the technological evolution, according to the Washington Post article. He revived “Bloom County” in 2015 and posts it digitally.

Today, he enjoys the “immediate relationship” with his online readers, which he feels are more intimate than in the past. “I knew nothing of, or from, my readers for decades. Now, we’re family,” Breathed says. “Not a family of 70 million anymore, but closer. We hug digitally — far more rewarding.”

I like both – the old way of getting 50 million readers a day, and today, being more intimate with the readers.

Edith Piaf

This is one of those times when things came together out of the blue. Edith Piaf is special, her voice and aura is my Christmas gift to you.

A friend sent me this Edith Piaf song, “No Regrets.” He was taking about something and said he had no regrets. When I heard the song I was flabbergasted. I had heard it all my life, but I didn’t know it was Edith Piaf. It’s part of an Allstate Insurance commercial and every time the commercial comes on I stop what I’m doing to listen. I love it. I’m sure you have seen it.

This is a long version of the commercial.

I had always heard of Edith Piaf but didn’t know much about her. I looked her up on Wikipedia and see that she died young – at 47 in 1963, due to drinking and parting too much. Her final words were, “Every damn thing you do in this life, you have to pay for.”

She had such a tragic life. Her mother didn’t want her. She lost her only child at age 2. She was married multiple times and had such a short, sickly life. “No Regrets” describes here life exactly. You can read about her here.

She seems so small and fragile. Look at these live performances. Amazing that such a voice comes out of such a little lady.

Here are a couple of live versions of Ms. Piaf singing “Non, je ne regrette rien (No Regrets)” and “La vie en rose,” which she wrote. I’m sorry, but you’re going to have this stuck in your head all day. But not a bad thing to be stuck in your head!

It’s like this little girl is a reincarnation of Edith Piaf.

I watched the video so much that Allstate is now sending their Edith Piaf ads to me on Twitter!

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things
That went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
For the grief doesn’t last
It is gone
I’ve forgotten the past

And the memories I had
I no longer desire
Both the good and the bad
I have flung in a fire
And I feel in my heart
That the seed has been sown
It is something quite new
It’s like nothing I’ve known

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
All the things that went wrong
For at last I have learned to be strong

No! No regrets
No! I will have no regrets
For the seed that is new
It’s the love that is growing for you

Digital art taking vs pen and ink

Artist Tom Richmond, who you may know from Mad Magazine, and many other places, has a great blog post about original cartoon art, “Is Digital Killing Original Art?”

Well for one thing, digital art is original art, but of course Tom is referring to actual pen and paper art.

There are still many artists who prefer to use pen and ink, rather than draw digitally and it makes the original art even more valuable in the long run. But of course, most of the art these days, I daresay, is digital.

When I see original cartoon art at ComicCons, some very old, I often think, “Is this the last of it?” But I’m sure lots will show up over time, afterall, cartoonists had 365 drawings a year, so that is a lot of work over many years’ time.

I don’t remember when I went from pen and ink to digital, but I don’t think I will ever go back to pen and ink, digital is just so easy to work with, it makes the work go faster and the end results are basically the same – except for not having original art.

I remember when digital cameras firts came out, I couldn’t wrap my head arount the idea of not having film. “How can you not have film?” I thought. “What if I need copies of the images?”

To tell you the truth, in all my life, I don’t think I ever had copies of photos made after the first one was printed. Remember you used to get two prints of each one when they were developed?

Anyway, I took to digital drawing faster than I did to digital photography, which of course we all use daily now, taking pictures with our phones every few minutes. We all know what we ate these past few years, thanks to that.

But getting back to Tom Richmond, he says, “I really do find it sad that one of the major drawbacks of the rise of the computer as a tool for art is that less and less physical art is being created.”

Sad, but it reminds me of so many other things that are gone or almost gone – the sound of a typewriter bell, pay phones, handwriting, floppy disks, card catalogs, paper maps, landlines, and Mad Magazine, ironically, where many of us know Tom Richmond from.

One reason I like my old fashioned mechanic, who I mentioned the other day.

Walking through Starry Night

I’m seeing a reason to visit Indianapolis. Something I don’t think I ever thought of.

Why? For THE LUME’s debut at Newfields in Indianapolis. Starting in June 2021, Australian-based Grande Experiences is featuring a cutting-edge experience where you can walk among Vincent Van Gogh’s work.

You can immerse yourself in 30,000 square feet of Van Gogh, where 150 projectors will turn paintings into a 3D world.

Walk among Starry Night, Almond Blossoms, Irises and Van Gogh’s self portrait among so many others.

These images of The LUME Indianapolis are courtesy of Grande Experiences

Pretty in Pink

I watched Pretty In Pink yesterday. Yup – Andie and Duckie. 1986. How I wish I could go back to that era – my favorite time. I was flipping through channels and there it was in all it’s 1980s glory.

Watching it was like a time capsule – the sayings, the places, the fashions. I don’t think I saw the movie since the ’80s, so it was nice to see.

All of those John Hughes movies ARE the 1980s. I think the Simple Minds song, “Don’t You Forget About Me” from The Breakfast Club, is one of the THE ’80s songs. It always brings me back there when I hear it. Always.

The Brat Pack, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Culture Club, George Michael, Prince, Guns ‘n Roses, Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, The Police, Def Leppard, Metallica, Talking Heads, REM, etc. So great.

Cheers, Alf, The Golden Girls, Night Court, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, Moonlighting, Remington Steel, thirtysomething, Dynasty, Unsolved Mysteries, Dallas, etc. Such great tv, too. And movies – Ferris Bueller, The Outsiders, Moonstruck, Field of Dreams, Heathers, Top Gun, Weekend at Bernie’s, St. Elmo’s Fire, and of course all the John Hughes movies.

I sometimes think that when we die, we can then travel through time. Like if we want to visit a time and place, we can go there. I would visit the 1980s, I would start on January 1, 1980 and live it through to December 31, 1989 and do it all over again.



Joe Biden and the comic strip

See this picture? It’s Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, our new Prez and VP, but look closely at Joe’s desk. See what’s behind the computer? It’s a comic strip.

A Hagar the Horrible strip that spoke to him.

With all that Biden has gone through in his life; many deaths in the family, this strip spoke to him. I love that.

Many times I wonder if people are reading comics these days. I know they are, but are comics relevant today as they were years ago? I guess they are according to President President-elect Joe Biden.

Gives me hope, not just for the future of comics, but for the future of our country. You gotta have a president who reads and saves comics!

This comics info on Biden came from a long Piers Morgan article in Mail Online, it talks about his phone call from Biden when his son Beau passed away, Piers had never spoken to Joe Biden before, but he knew Beau, and at that time, Biden told him about saving this comic strip. You can read it here.

This morning there was a great segment on CBS Sunday Morning about a book compliation between Steve Martin and Harry Bliss, the cartoonist. Here it is:

Political cartoons

I ran a sort of political comic yesterday (the native American one below) and this voting booth one today. Some people don’t like when I post political stuff. They have told me. But it’s all in fun. I’m not choosing sides and how could I not run a political cartoon or two when we have been enveloped in politics this whole political season.

Just this morning it seems that every commercial on tv is a last minute local political ad pushing for those last minute undecided voters – mayors, city council, senators, etc. The best part about tomorrow is that these non-stop commercials, many full of lies and exaggerations, will be gone.

But I’m glad that people read my comics to not read political stuff. That’s what I’m aiming for – good clean fun for the whole family, even those who call my stuff “boomer humor.” I guess they are trying to insult me, but they are reading me, so God speed. In the past I used to draw for the masses and then I kept hearing, “draw what you like and your audience will come.” And so I started doing that and it worked.

Glad to have you here and here. Thank you.

It’s NOT the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

So in the scheme of things, this Charlie Brown news is not important, but then again, in the scheme of things, the way this whole year has been, it is important. Even Sally is upset!

Charlie Brown specials are moving to AppleTV+. That means It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown won’t be seen on regular tv this year and possibly in the future. And also the other Charlie Brown specials probably will follow suit. Why? Money, I guess.

I know there are DVD’s (I have them) and there are free days on AppleTV+ where you can see it (Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 1), but it’s not the same. It breaks with tradition. It was always a CBS show and I was not thrilled when it moved to ABC (I know, I need a life), but now it’s not on regular tv at all.

The last few years, ABC has been showing it twice. Same with the Christmas episode and it is just part of life. And this year we need traditions! We may not even have Halloween in many places this year, so this tradition is important.

There is something about everyone watching it at the same time, enjoying it together. I like watching things “live,” I like to see shows when they are on.

I guess it all boils down to money. Doesn’t everything?

Snoopy license plates!

The states of California is offering Snoopy license plates. The extra money raised goes to California museums.

“This street-legal, DMV- and PEANUTS-approved license plate features Snoopy doing his signature happy dance. Plates for cars, trucks, vans, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles start at just $50 ($103 for personalized plates).”

There are over 1400 museums in California.

I want one. Only I don’t live in California. 😦

It’s all about communication

When I look at today’s comic, it reminds me of a few years back, maybe 15 years ago. I have an online business that can be operated anywhere. But 15 years ago, even though it is the same business, which can be operated anywhere, I still felt tied to the office/home.

I had a neighbor, an attorney, who spent her time between New Hampshire and Miami and she told me, “It doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you pick up the phone!”

And I always remembered that and it made my life so much easier. She said, “You can be lying on the beach, and I don’t think the client cares, as long as you answer the phone!”

Ironically, I’ve never been a phone person and I avoid answering the phone, I prefer email, which has suited my business very well. But I do answer the emails quickly, especially since I have my phone on me 24/7, but even back then, before iphones, I answered emails quickly.

It’s all about communication. Even from the beach.