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.

Popular 2020 comics

Here are some of my most popular comics this year. The ones with the most likes, shares and comments. Enjoy!

You can see all of this year’s comics here: TomFalco.com

Or here:

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

Dead Freight

I watched my favorite Breaking Bad episode on Sunday – Dead Freight. I love the titles of the episodes, they are all a play on words and brain twisters.

This is the train episode, Face Off, is my second favorite.

Spoiler alerts – don’t read any further if you haven’t seen the episode.

Anyway, there are a couple of things I question regarding the Dead Freight episode. First off, how do they know where the train car is going to be ahead of time? Lydia tells them at 2 am, yet a day or two before they set up the spot below the tracks to bury the tanks, as if it is right below their car.

And when the train has to make an emergency stop, most trains, I’m told, need a mile to stop a fast moving train. Is the train not moving that fast? Do they see the dump truck from a mile away, having enough time for them to stop?

And lastly, I hate the last few seconds of that episode. I’m not sure why they need to do that other than to show what a schmuck Todd is.

Charlie Brown back on broadcast tv

After screwing up Charlie Brown for Halloween, I never did get to see it this year, Apple tv has made a deal with PBS to show A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and a Charlie Brown Christmas on broadcast tv.

PBS will show the episodes commercial free on Sundays, November 22 and December 13 at 7:30 pm eastern time both nights.

Details here on the PBS website.

Happy 200th Bob’s Burgers!

One of my favorite cartoons, Bob’s Burgers, is celebrating its 200th episode this Sunday!

Love that show. I mostly watch it in reruns in early evening now, and I’ve seen every episode more than once. I never get tired of it.

On more than one occasion I’ve been walking through a Comic Con and I hear their voices – especially Linda, the mother, I look up and there are the voices – the actual people – sitting at a table signing autographs! Iconic!

Even though it’s a cartoon, it seem so real. I want to visit Ocean Avenue where Bob and family live and work – with the small town seaside feel and the amusement park on the pier at the end of the street. It all feels so real!

One of my favorite episodes is Brunchsquatch – where every scene is drawn by fans. It jumps from character to character design, all different, but it works.

We have a little dive diner in town called Burger Bob’s and of course I always call it Bob’s Burgers by mistake, like, “Hey, wanna go to Bob’s Burgers for lunch?” It’s been around for many years, so it came before the tv version, but still Burger Bob’s is always Bob’s Burgers to me.

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.



I joined Netflix!

Walter White and family

Yup, I joined the 21st Century! I joined Netflix.

I kept putting it off joining. It wasn’t about the money, I pay for Amazon Prime and other networks and what is it, the cost of a couple of cups of coffee? It was about the time. Now I am glued to the tv, and I didn’t want to do that. I put it off all these years so as not to binge watch things non-stop.

But I guess all I did was pile up more shows by not watching when they first came out. Now there is a long list.

I know, I’m always posting about all the tv I watch, but that’s just because of the pandemic and being home so much. BP (Before Pandemic), I was out all the time. I traveled a lot and as editor of the daily news around here I was always covering news and participating in events.

Now I’m part of the Netflix family and I’m into watching everything. I joined because I wanted to finish watching Breaking Bad. I had DVR’d them when they were playing as a marathon on AMC, but for some reason, about 20 episodes in the middle didn’t tape. I’ve been busy and I broke my Breaking Bad Sunday habit for months. Now I want to get back into it. I watched three episodes on Sunday!

Breaking Bad on Sundays relaxes me. Yup, all those drugs, murders and scheming does that for me. So Sunday is Breaking Bad Day again for me.

Oh, and get this, the Universe is at work – out of the blue I got an order from Netflix. My company sells promotional items. They needed some stuff for a film they are producing and they sent me the order for the items.

Roll Up Allstate commercial

This is my new favorite commercial. Every time it comes on I stop and watch. The song is “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, released in 1977, I remember liking the song as a kid. You can hear the whole song here.

It’s more than just the song, I just like watching the girl roll up in the comforters and roll down the street. It makes me smile.



Friends in my head

Bridget and Julia on the set.

I was talking about how much I love Life Below Zero, but I would never consider living like that on the frozen Tundra. I watch these shows over and over again and enjoy them so much, I feel as if some of the people are friends in my head.

Another thing I love is cooking shows. Mostly on weekends I have taken to watching them all. And yet, I don’t even like to boil water. Yet, like Life Below Zero, I find them very relaxing.

I know what roux is and I know how to caramelize onions. I just don’t do that. I love eating it all, but I don’t care to prepare it. I know what stone fruit is and I love all of it, I just don’t bake. I know where capers come from and how to make chicken in a Moroccan tagine; and I know not to turn fish on the grill, it will release itself when ready.

Dan and friends in the kitchen

I know what Sara Moulton is up to and what recipes Jacques Pepin‘s mother used to make. I know how Bridget and Julia like to brown a turkey and how Dan Souza prepares his Indonesian-Style Fried Rice, and when Martha Bakes, watch out!

I know what size oysters should be before they are harvested and how to kill a caribou and ptarmigan in the Arctic. I don’t put any of it to use, but it’s all in my head!