Online comics – it’s where it’s at

I’ve been touting the advantage of online comics vs printed newspaper strips and it looks like the owners of the Tarzan franchise, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., feel the same.

In a statement by President Jim Sullos, he says that after a 92-year-run as a printed strip in newspapers, the strip will now move to online only strips. His whole statement is here, in The Daily Cartoonist.

Their site edgarriceburroughs.com/comics has four free sample strips and in the future, you’ll have to subscribe for the new material. It’s only $21.99 per year for full access to all the strips.

I love this idea, it’s sort of like having a Patreon site but not.

I had written in the past of how I feel that comics are an online thing these days. At once I would have killed to be published daily in newspapers, but I can’t see myself doing that now. That’s so last century.

The trick now is learning how to make a living at it.

Frank

I tend to use certain characters over and over again. One of them is Frankenstein, or should I say Frankenstein’s monster. I used him and his wife the other day in this health care cartoon.

Whenever I use him in a gag, I call him “Frank,” and there is always someone who has to correct me and tell me he is Frankenstein’s monster – Frankenstein is the doctor. I know that.

But what would I call him? If he is Frankenstein’s monster, do I call him “Monster?” I think it’s nicer to call him “Frank,” which is short for Frankenstein’s monster.

But I have to always crack up that people always seem to have the need to correct the name. But of course, having people engage with the comic and discuss it is always a good thing.

One lady called him “Lurch,” getting her “monsters” mixed up.

What if closing time is 2 am?

There is talk of changing the last call in South Beach. They want it to be 2 am. That is when liquor will stop being served in their 170 locations, that serve liquor. 170 locations! Now to be clear, this is only during a few weeks during Spring Break each year, but I suspect that the residents will love it so much, they may make it a full time, all year thing.

But I was thinking about it. I don’t know how I would survive with that. I don’t go out to bars and clubs these days, but in my time (again, sounding like an old man), we didn’t even go out until midnight! I remember my first time in Boston, I was flabbergasted to see that the bars closed at 2 am! In Miami, we don’t get going until that time!

Miami Beach/South Beach is one small area in all of Miami-Dade County. The whole county consists of 34 municipalities (cities, towns, villages), the whole county is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined; so there is plenty more to do than South Beach. South Beach is sort of the Times Square of the area. Some other cities you may know are Miami (yes, Miami is a separate city from Miami Beach and South Beach is one area of Miami Beach); Coral Gables, Key Biscayne, Pinecrest, Cutler Bay, which used to be Cutler Ridge; and so on. . . . Each has its own closing time, but the tourists, and most locals, hang out in South Beach to party.

In South Beach the mayor wants to turn the Art Deco district and all of South Beach into something else (during Spring Break only?), rather than party central – maybe more arts and culture, I think. I don’t know how that will go over, but of course it will change the whole complexion of the place.

But how many times did I come crawling in at 6 or 7 am, take a shower, change and head out to work. How many times did my friends and I head out at midnight? Well, actually, every night.

It’s just something to think about, the changing times, literally and figuratively.

Maine Cabin Masters

The Maine Cabin Masters

There is a tv show I’ve been watching a lot lately – Maine Cabin Masters. I’ve been binge watching it. I really like it.

It’s a group of old friends and some family members, who renovate old cabins for clients, which they call “camps,” in Maine. The cabins are on lakes or rivers. The main three are Chase, the boss; his sister Ashley and her husband Ryan. There are also Dixie, Jedi, and Lance, who was a great character on the show, who left in later seasons.

The scenery alone is worth viewing, so much of it seems to take place in the fall and the turning leaves are amazing. The show is fun because they all have a great rapport since they know each other all their lives and also, the renovation work is great, they take old worn out cabins and turn them into spectacular places. And three words really are the main/Maine reason to love it – “Maine,” “cabin,” and “lake.” Three perfect things.

There is one thing that bothers me though, and that’s the budget. Clients give them a long list of things to do which usually consists of fixing the whole foundation, replacing the roof, replacing the outside siding, replace the flooring, sometimes redo the inside stairs, add a new outside deck, add new windows, renovate and redo the kitchen and every single thing inside, including bringing electricity and running water into the place and oh yes, add a dock down on the lake and add steps down to it, also many times, trees, huge, tall trees, have to be cleared from part of the property – and do it all for $30,000!

The crew is about eight people and the supplies have to cost way more than $30,000. The roof alone is more than that. How much would the Property Brothers charge for this? $150,000 or more? I can’t figure out how they work for months, literally a couple of months on this one job and all split the $30,000 after paying for supplies.

Now I am guessing the producers of the show pay it all, but still it’s all unrealistic. Even if they are paying for most of the salaries and supplies, etc., why not give a realistic estimate and at the end of the show have a little blurb in the credits that says the production company paid for the job. Sort of like Judge Judy, where the people who lose the cases have their loss paid for by the production company.

Other than this one little thing, I love the show. It’s comforting to watch. The hour goes by quite quickly.

Loving the new daily comics

For the first time, since I think the late 1980s. I like the comics in the Miami Herald! I really did not like their selection for the past couple of decades! In fact, I gave up cartooning because I saw doom and gloom on the comics pages. I just didn’t enjoy them. But in the 1980s I loved them. But maybe it’s because that is the only way we got our daily comic strips back then and of course I was a young guy/kid and I guess anything might have been funny to me. But I do think they were a great selection at the time in all our daily newspapers that were around then.

Now I love them. It seems that all the McClatchy owned newspapers have the same comics pages now. Each newspaper is not dictated by a features editor, it’s one or two pages for all.

The Miami Herald has one page but if you read the e-edition, there are two pages. Here is the printed page. It features such new(ish) and 21st century comics along with some classics. But I like most of them, where in the past few years I couldn’t choose one that I liked.

I’m not just saying that because I’m not printed in the Herald. I really do enjoy them.

I read my comics online now and don’t usually glance at them in the newspaper, but I knew the change was coming a few weeks ago so I check them out now.

I had a good rapport with the features editor at the Herald and we did talk about me having my work published daily, but that never came to pass, and of course I am thrilled with that today. I can’t imagine having such tight and strict deadlines and editors in this digital age, where I can draw something and have it appear online to the world second later!

But I wouldn’t mind having a few of my daily comics appear one day a week – say on a Friday. They can run a few of my past week’s comics in the weekend section, three, four or five of them. They can pick and choose and just run them together. Other than that, I am thrilled with my online, digital schedule.

Be an Arts Hero

This cartoon from earlier in the pandemic is being rerun today as part of the Be An Arts Hero campaign, which is Monday, March 15. Cartoonists from all over the world are participating to bring awareness to the arts. Cartoons will start spreading across social media at 9 am eastern time.

The AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) has been asked to spread the word about Be An Arts Hero, a push by the arts and cultures sector for direct government support of creatives during the time of coronavirus.

Be An #ArtsHero is joining a national effort of Arts Workers, urging the Biden/Harris administration to support the Arts and Culture sector. Together, cartoonists contributed to this political cartoon initiative.

An original cartoon (or a repurposed or existing cartoon on the subject), is to illustrate a unique point of view on the particular struggles of editorial cartoonists during this crisis.

I chose to repurpose the one shown above, which was first published towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Hashtags and tags include: #ArtsWorkersUnite, #ArtsHero #First100Days, and @JoeBiden, @KamalaHarris, @WhiteHouse, and @BeAnArtsHero. So if you look for them after today, you’ll see the cartoons all over social media and at BeAnArtsHero.com.

The arts and culture stats sheet can be seen here. You’ll see the large economic impact the arts have on our country.

We can’t wait to gogh!

My cousin had me in tears the other day. Why? Because she booked us tickets for the Immerse Van Gogh experience in New York for July! I was going to get some tickets for Miami when it’s here in April, but this is better. I had written about it in November, when they were planning the event for Indianapolis. I really had considered going there to see it.

I was in tears because I can’t believe that things are starting to get back to normal. When she texted me that she got the tickets and told me the date and time, I was filled with happiness, something I really hadn’t felt in a long time, the pandemic was starting to weight on me. But it’s real. It’s happening. I’m going to immerse myself into my favorite artist with some of my favorite people.


I’ve missed them so much. My cousins are like brothers and sisters to me. I spend so much time with them during the year, but the last time I saw them in person was November 2019. We talk and chat all the time, but of course it’s not the same.

What was even better is that I didn’t realize that there were more than two of us on the text when she said she got the tix, so when others chimed in and said they were excited, too. I really lost it.

I’ll take you along through this blog, of course, but if you want to attend in a city near you, check out the info and dates here.

Pretend it’s a city

I’ve been watching “Pretend It’s a City,” on Netflix. I’m probably done with it by the time you read this.

It’s a seven part show featuring author (although she hasn’t published a book in 30 years, but I guess it’s like being an Oscar winner. You’re always an Oscar winner) and humorist Fran Lebowitz. Each episode is about 30 minutes long.

Martin Scorsese directed the series and is shown as he interviews Fran in many scenes, which fade in and out of various locations, from a quite club called Players, which was founded in the 1800s by Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes Booth, to being on stage in front of an audience.

The title “Pretend It’s a City” refers to Fran’s frequent mantra mostly to tourists who stop in the middle of sidewalks or do other annoying things, who she says need to realize, you are in a city – act like it! Fran is the female Larry David to me.

Some of the funniest things she talks about are New York City itself. Like, why are lawn chairs needed in the middle of Times Square? One interesting thing she says is that when she got to NYC in the 1970s, it was rough and gritty. But that’s how she knew New York since it was her New York at the time. She had nothing to compare it to. People who arrive today expect to see the lawn chairs in the middle of Broadway and that’s their New York.

She hates the no smoking inside rule. She says that artists and creative people meet and mingle over drinks, music and smoking. What if Picaso had to run out to smoke a cigarette every once in awhile, “Think of all the things he would have missed,” she says.

It’s all funnier and hits home when Fran tells it. Try the first episode, I think you’ll stick around for all seven.

Fran talks about so many famous people she has known. About her dislike for Warhol, her lifelong friendship with Toni Morrison and so much more.

There are lots of old scenes of “old New York” in the shows. She is really great to listen to.

Waiting for a Star to Fall

This video is so great. It’s one of my favorite songs from the ’80s, “Waiting for a Start to Fall” and it’s four and a half minutes of 1980s scenes. It brings you right back to that decade.

Here is the original video, “Waiting for a Star to Fall” by Boy Meets Girl. I have this video saved and I watch it often on YouTube.

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.