Five cents for the newspaper

Five cents, Ten cents for a newspaper? Of course, years ago, that’s what it was. And not that long ago either. I remember when I was a kid, when I was a paper boy the newspaper was five cents for a daily paper. I delivered the Long Island Press for a few years.

It was five cents a day for the dailies and 30 cents for the Sunday paper – 60 cents for the 7 day week!

This paper from 1969 shows the price of 5 cents, so I guess that was the price for everyone, not just subscribers.

I used to have to “collect,” which is going around and getting paid from customers weekly. I had a little green book, which I think is still at my parents’ house somewhere, and I used to go around the block collecting.

At one point the Sunday paper went up to 35 cents, the dailies were still five cents – so it was 65 cents for the week! Today newspapers are $3.00 for the daily and I’ve seen up to $8.00 for the Sunday paper! They are much less if you subscribe and have it delivered.


Anyway, I went around collecting one time, and one customer yelled at me because the paper went up from 60 cents to 65 cents for the week. He was upset over the nickel. He said no one told him about the rise in price. I just shrugged, but I’m sure the Press put the info on their front page as they usually do, publishing in a box or something to inform readers of the change.

Now you can’t even get a candy bar for 65 cents.

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Wanna feel old?

I went to one of my favorite museums, the Museum of the City of New York. I’m not sure why it’s a favorite, I think it’s the neighborhood I like, Spanish Harlem, as for the museum, it’s the same old exhibits, and once in awhile they change out one room. And their app to buy tickets sucks. Other than that, I did like one exhibit they had today.

But it made me feel ancient. It literally had these things under glass: a dial phone, a pay phone, a newspaper, printed classified ads, film cameras, typewriters, and so much more.

I did enjoy watching a video on the old way newspapers were made and they had a huge old linotype machine and all sorts of old newspaper equipment. That was cool.

But to see these other things behind glass was really freaky.

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Unheralded

So I unsubscribed to the paper again – the Miami Herald. I did it for a couple of reasons – they keep raising the price and I don’t like the delivery person.

I’ve supported newspapers my whole life, I often wished I lived in the days when newspapers ruled the media, but then I’d probably be old or dead by now, so maybe not.

I went to pick up a copy the other day at a store and the daily newspaper was $3.00 plus tax. $3.00 for the daily paper, what’s the Sunday paper cost?

The newspapers are struggling to survive. What if they gave each issue away for free, like most weekly papers do, and they can maybe raise the ad rates to compensate for the extra readers that would bring them?

I remember when I was a newspaper delivery boy so many moons ago – the daily newspaper was 5 cents and the Sunday, I don’t remember, but probably 35 cents. I remember one time the price went up a nickel a week for subscribers and one guy complained that he didn’t know and was upset about the extra nickel.

Anyway, I don’t really read the daily paper these days. I only subscribed to support them and I think the only thing I read was the tv listings. The Sunday paper used to take half a day to read, now it takes 10 minutes.

I read the comics and news online and therein lies the rub with the news and featured stories – they are all put online way before the paper is printed. And I don’t go to their website to read these stories – they are all over social media, they just come up in my feeds. I think it should be the other way around. I think they should print the stories first and then put them online, so if people want fresh news, they have to get the daily newspaper, rather than the other way around.

So many times my father would say to me, “Did you see such and such article in the paper today?” And I would say, “I read that a few days ago online.”

So basically, people are buying the daily newspaper to read days old news.

Now, this boy had it hard.

As for the delivery girl, she is obnoxious and incompetent. When I complained one time she sent me a long letter saying I was lucky she was delivering the paper at all and I should be thankful. Then she went on to complain about how hard her job is.

I remember being 12 years old and delivering the papers in all sorts of weather, by foot or on my bike and dragging them on a sled when it snowed. This 35 year old woman delivering my paper by car has it hard I guess. So I was glad to unsubscribe to lighten her load a bit – one less paper to lug in her back seat.

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The changing, and shrinking, comics

I saw in The Daily Cartoonist today, that cartoonist Jim Keefe, cartoonist for Sally Forth, who previous was the writer and artist of Flash Gordon, wrote in his blog a few years ago, about the size, or rather, lack of size of the printed comic strips today.

A few years back I showed this example here, the comics in the Miami Herald – smaller than postage stamps!

I think this is the time I realized that my dream of being a published newspaper cartoonist was not my dream anymore.

I know people read the newspaper comics, but not many. I haven’t read the actual newspaper comics for years, and by years, I mean a decade or more. I think I gave up with The Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County left the comics pages. Today I read them online, where you can pick and choose your favorites and sort of make up your own comics page at GoComics.com and Comics Kingdom and other sites like Webtoons.

I think one of the best places these days to publish and to read comics is Instagram. You can follow the comics you like, flip through them one panel at a time and they easily come up in your daily feed, you don’t have to look for them. I publish there Monday thru Friday.

I’m enjoying reading old “Our Boarding House” comic panels featuring Major Hoople, from the 1920s and ’30s, on Facebook. A couple of groups post one Major Hoople panel a day, it has a lot of devoted fans.

In the past I always felt that I had to be published in the newspapers – it was why comic strips were created – to be in the newspapers. Just like movies – created to be seen on the big silver screen. But today big features show up on streaming services and most comics show up online or on social media.

And with both of these situations, you can control what you see, when you see it and how you see it. You can watch a movie on your 3 inch phone or 65 inch tv – same with the comics and those tiny, postage sized comics can be easily blown on on any screen for easing viewing.

By not being confined to daily newspaper publication, you can vary your schedule, you can change the size of the panels – make them longer, shorter, etc. Not be edited, which can be a good or bad thing depending on how you look at it, and probably the best part – publish instantly without a four to eight week lag time. I can’t imagine these days completing a comic strip or panel and then waiting eight weeks to see it in print.

Of course, publishing online rather than with a syndicate in newspapers has one major drawback – no money – you don’t get a salary. But times are changing. NFT’s seem to be something interesting to look at these days along with other money-making ideas for artists and cartoonists.

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Where are the newspapers?

Today’s newsstands – no news – but lots of candy and drinks.

I was in Boston and New York for a few weeks in November and I only saw one newspaper the whole time. It was on Thanksgiving morning at one of my cousins’ houses. She had the NY Times on her dining room table. The rest of the time I did not see any newspapers. No Boston Globe or Boston Herald. No NY Times, NY Post, Newsday or Daily News. Nothing.

Until a few years ago, I would see some at the newsstands. Some – not a lot. These days the “newsstands” sell candy and drinks. That’s it. Maybe an iPhone accessory or two, but gone are the days of actual newspapers.

I noticed at Hudson News in Grand Central, there are no newspapers and if there are – they are few and far between. They seemed to have cleaned the place out – the once cluttered store is now basically empty. Same with Hudson News in the airports. I was in three Hudson News locations in JFK Airport in November, and I tried to find some newspapers. Not one in any of the Hudson News locations.

Now this is a newsstand – an image from yesteryear.

I subscribe to the Miami Herald at home and am lucky when the paper arrives. I complained once and in return I received a nasty hand written note from the delivery girl, telling me I am lucky that I get a newspaper at all! No joke. Oddly enough, the day I was heading to Boston, I was waiting out front about 6:30 am for Uber. The news delivery girl drove up in her car – onto the lawn, did not get out – handed me the newspaper, backed off, and was on her way.

I remember when I delivered the Long Island Press as a boy. That’s a long story I won’t go into, but we didn’t do anything like that. We actually serviced the customers. I remember when it snowed, I walked around the block with the papers piled up on a sled.

Anyway, I was born in the wrong time period because if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know I worship newspapers – printed newspapers, but over the years, I have read them less and less. They seem to be phasing out and that’s a sad thing. I wonder what it was like in the days of cities like NY having 14 daily newspapers – morning and evening editions.

I remember in the 1980s when the NY Post and the NY Daily News competed fiercely. There were maybe eight editions a day. It seemed that every time you walked by a newsstand in one day, the front page headlines were different with the different editions. I miss those days. Well, hell, I miss everything about the 1980s.

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It’s all going the way of the payphone

I was thinking that I need to get new photos for press stories and things like that. In the past, the publications would send out a staff photographer or someone to take the pictures. I don’t ever remember sending in my own photos. Even news channels would send out a reporter or someone with a camera and they would film you somewhere. Now it’s all zoomed in. In the past a tv station would call me up about a local issue and ask if they could send a reporter or guy with a camera over – and more times than not, they wanted me in the center of town to do the interview. This is when I published the daily news and was considered some sort of know-it-all. I wan’t, but the media thought that.

So many old ways may be gone now that the pandemic has set new rules. And even before the pandemic things were disappearing. I think kids these days only know what a phone booth is thanks to old Superman tv shows and movies.

Newspapers and magazines don’t send out photographers for a quick photo anymore due to the pandemic, but – I think in the future we’ll just send in photos like we’re doing now, which saves them time and money. And of course printed newspapers and books are going the way of online and kindle. So many offices won’t return to normal. Why pay thousands of dollars in rent for an office when people can easily work from home? Like this cartoon shows, maybe only zoom calls will be the office norms from now on.

I was reading that shared touch screens may disappear – you know, like ATM’s and things like that. People will maybe use their smart phones to navigate through things like that. Many people order food online or on their phones and then pick up the stuff, I do that. I do it with Starbucks and Panera Bread and Au Bon Pain and Sweet Green and for many years, I would order food myself at the location, on a touch screen at Panera, which of course, may just end up being my cell phone since touch screens may be a thing of the past.

Recently when I went to the zoo with my friend, I purchased the tickets online. It was more about being sure we got the tickets since they are controlling the visitor count these days.

And handshakes, will they ever come back? I never was a big hand shaker or a hugger and maybe we won’t do that in the future. Maybe we’ll bow like they do in Japan. It seems more respectful to bow, doesn’t it?

I have not physically paid a parking meter for years. I pay for parking, but I use a phone to pay for it. And maybe there will be no parking meters in the future, since the phone knows when the meter is up and no one has to drive by to check on that.

Some years ago, a friend who worked at a bank, told me that bank tellers would be a thing of the past – and so they are. I take a picture of a check and send it to the bank that way, without ever stepping inside the bank. I transfer money, pay bills (and don’t use checks either, I do that online) and things like that.

That reminds me of when I was in high school, I worked at a newspaper and at that time we had to typeset and put everything together separately – the headlines, the main galleys/type, the photos, it was a jigsaw puzzle. Our boss told us of the future, where there would be something called “pagination” where the whole page would come out as one piece, we could not fathom that, we listened in awe.

My brother Chris used to be in the computer business, when home PC’s were all sort of new. I asked him one time if it was possible to have different fonts put in the system, so that when I was doing my graphics and newspaper business, I could use different fonts for ads, text, headlines, etc. He said it might be possible, but it would take some super programming to do! Ancient history now.

I walked into one bank that is a coffee shop, I was there yesterday, in fact. The first time I walked in a year or so ago, I asked where the bank was and someone pointed to one or two teller machines in the back of the coffee shop. So now banks are coffee shops, where you of course, can order your coffee on your phone.

I joke at my local Starbucks that the app is great – “I don’t have to talk to any of you this way! I just order and go!”

At Whole Foods in some locations now, you swipe your hand and you pay that way. I use Apple Pay and swipe that and I also use their QR code on my phone for discounts. Even the NYC subway now uses a QR code rather than a card to get on the subway. The card of course, replaced tokens.

At one hotel I stayed at, I used my cell phone to unlock my room door. The room key, became a key card which now became an app. I have ordered and bought plane tickets for years online or on my phone and at the airport I check in myself and don’t even use a paper boarding pass – it’s a QR code on my phone. The first time I converse with someone during this whole process is to say hello to the attendant at the gate as they check my boarding pass on my phone.

Real estate is selling online these days in a hot market. People buy from digital showings and don’t even show up at the properties. And cars! My next car will be bought online. And I’ll have it delivered to the house and have my old car picked up. Sort of like you buy mattresses now!

We order rides, we order food, we order groceries online and even read books (and comics) on our phones now. It’s all in our pocket – including zoom calls – you don’t even need a computer to zoom.

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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.

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.

Today is ‘Tom Falco Day’

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Last year – February 14, 2020, was declared “Tom Falco Day” in the City of Miami. It’s hard to believe it has only been a year. While this past year seemed to fly by, in some instances it felt like 10 years in one! It is hard to believe this was only 12 months ago.

Last Feb. 14, I received a proclamation that says this date is mine! It may be Valentine’s Day to you, but to me it’s this. It may be just that one day last year, but I am claiming it in perpetuity so every February 14 is Tom Falco Day! That’s me at left with one of our City Commissioners, Ken Russell.

For 15 years I published the news and was an activist in our little village and I decided to end the publication that month. And it was so great of Ken and the local government, including the BID, to do this for me. So many of my friends and townspeople came out, such memories. It was bittersweet. It was so nice to see so many faces.

It was sort of a surprise, so I didn’t invite family or anyone. I was just told to show up Friday afternoon at 4 pm. I knew something was up, but not what, I knew enough to throw a jacket in the back of my car, just in case.

Not publishing the news every day is a lot off my shoulders, it was a big responsibility. Ending that responsibility felt like it was the last day of school. Forever! I remember that feeling.

I’m still around, I see the same people every day, but I’m part of the community now, I blend in, I’m not in everyone’s business. I like it this way.

Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day Tom Falco Day!

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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.