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.

A nice little article about me in today’s paper

The Miami Herald has a little article about me printed in today’s paper. My comics are here if anyone is looking for them. They didn’t supply a link in the printed article, but it first appeared in Thursday’s online edition, on the front page! and my comics stats went way through the roof because there was a link to them there.

People are congratulating me and I think they think my cartoons are being published daily in the Herald. I’ve been in the newspapers a lot over the years for various things (including my comics), so people are used to that, so I can only assume they think my comics are being published daily now. Many people just read headlines. I noticed on Twitter now if you go to retweet an article, it asks you if you read the article first. Love that.

Front page blurb


It’s one of the few times I’ve been in the paper where it’s something positive. I’ve always been part of controversial stories. When I wrote the news around here, for some reason I became part of the stories. Not too long ago, was about the wild peacocks in the neighborhood where they twisted my words and had me hating the peacocks (for the record, I love them). I was interviewed on the radio for about 20 minutes and somehow one or two lines made it into the papers. That story and my quotes made it all over the country. Why Chicago, New York and Milwaukee among many others care about our peacocks is behind me. Must have been a slow news day. Here is one little blurb in the NY Post, not too bad.

I did have a nice article recently in VoyageMIA about my comics and me. I guess I gained a lot of good press (and karma) recently due to taking on the daily comics rather than being in everyone’s business while doing the daily news.

After seeing this recent Herald article, I had one friend say, “Your dreams are coming true!” But truth be told, I prefer digital comics, for me anyway. I believe that just like movies and other entertainment – digital is the way to go. The main reason is the deadlines. With newspapers there is such a long time between when the comics are submitted and when they are printed.

Currently I am updating the comics till the last minute. Sometimes late at night I’m making a change on a comic that is scheduled to publish the next morning. I can’t do that with newspapers. The deadlines are way too long.

But even with the Herald article today, it was pared down to a shorter version in print (where digital, there is plenty of room) and even the cartoon itself is quite small, where it is large and featured on the online edition, and also, there are no links to the comics or social media sites – where the digital version had that. So digital seems the way to go, I think.

But what do I know. After the print edition appeared, I seem to be getting more subscribers online. Go figure.

What I wouldn’t mind is having the Herald print me once a week and pick and choose from what was published earlier in the week and just run one, two or three comics in the weekend section or something like that. And running them online, too, wouldn’t hurt!

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The old newspaper biz

I was watching the news and a lady was on from the Detroit Free Press and it made me think of all those great old newspapers. Not to say the Detroit Free Press is an old newspaper, but it actually is, founded in 1831. They are sometimes known as Freep – which is their website name: freep.com.

It makes me sometimes wish I was around when newspapers were important, but then I would be old now, so maybe not.

When my parents were kids, NYC had 14 daily newspapers! Remember there was no tv then, there was radio, but the news came from the newspapers, which were published all day, every day.


NY had the Mirror, and The Daily News and the Journal American, The Sun, the Herald-Tribune, The Times, the Post and so many. Millions of papers were sold daily – literally millions. The Daily news sold 2 million alone daily and 4 million on Sunday!

There is something about the deadlines, and the roll of the presses and then getting them out on the streets. Every single day.

Such great old names, too – The Brooklyn Eagle, The Miami News, The Tampa Tribune, The Boca Raton News, The Hollywood Sun-Tattler, Los Angeles Examiner, Oakland Tribune, Philadelphia Bulletin, Chicago Evening Post, New Orleans States-Item, Boston Phoenix and so on. There is a long list here.

I visit some of the old sites when I am in certain areas, like NY, you know, visiting the original Daily News building or the location of the New York Herald, the New York Sun and of course Park Row and all the history there.

One fifth of daily newspapers in the U.S. closed in the past 15 years.

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It’s impossible to unsubscribe

I ended my little foray into subscribing to out of town newspapers. Why? Because it’s almost impossible to unsubscribe. So I am hesitant to start subscribing to more of them.

I had wanted to get e-newspapers for various newspapers around the country, just to get some idea of what’s going on. You know, subscribe for a few for a few months and then move on to other papers. it’s a trip around the world, or at least, the country. But it’s a chore to cancel the subscriptions.

You call up, tell them you want to unsubscribe and they ask you why. With the New York Daily News I told them, “Because I am in Miami.” And then they go on, “But you should keep it because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” And this happened with the Asheville Citizen-Times and so many others.

With the Asheville Citizen-Times, the woman went on and on and said she could get me the paper at lower cost. And I kept telling her, but I live in Miami. I had only subscribed because I had planned to go to North Carolina this summer, but never did end up going.

She told me her plans of going to Philadelphia changed because of the virus so she understands and then she went on, “But I can get your a lower rate for the Citizen-Times for only ….” Salespeople. Gotta hate them.

When I unsubscribed to the Miami Herald, I received phone calls daily asking me why. One reason was that we had an inept delivery person and when the newspaper didn’t arrive, I didn’t even miss it. What was the point of paying for the newspaper if I never read it?

I am back to subscribing to the printed Herald – they wore me down. I’m expecting calls from the Citizen-Times, NY Daily News and others now.

I’m paperless!

miami-heraldI cancelled my Miami Herald subscription. First time in my life! I don’t think I have ever not had a newspaper delivery even as kids my parents always got a newspaper or two delivered. But I am tired of the lack of service by the delivery person and the constant increase in price.

It bothers me because I want to support the newspaper and I will probably subscribe digitally, as I have done with other newspapers, which I mentioned last week. But I haven’t been reading it. I don’t even pick it up and bring it inside most days and I’ve only used it for the tv listings, which of course, I can easily get online.

When I was a kid, there were so many options, I could easily get seven or so newspapers a day if I wanted. I usually got those to read the comics.  Now I read the comics online.

I do hope newspapers all survive. They are part of our lives, part of daily life. So many of us still do read the newspapers, but we don’t realize it. But when you are reading stories and clicking on things all over the internet and on social media, most likely you are clicking on daily newspapers and reading stories that interest you. I think I must follow 100 newspapers and tv stations from all around the country on Facebook. And I pick and choose what to read as they post the stories.

I will continue my new practice of subscribing to local newspapers from around the country online. It’s not expensive, you get the actual newspapers to flip through as an e-paper and I’m supporting them and seeing what’s up around the country. I believe that the circulation of newspapers this way is up, but they are having a hard time monetizing it. I’m not sure why it’s such a problem to transfer advertisers from the printed page to digital. The audience is online.

The NY Daily News is homeless

kamelotThe New York Daily News is homeless. They no longer have physical offices!

This seems to be the case in NYC with many businesses. Since the pandemic struck and people have been working remotely, offices have been empty and in many places, they may never return. In the tech world, Twitter, Google and so many other companies have allowed workers to work from home indefinitely.

By the way, this is today’s front page. Is this a new hashtag – #kamelot? Love it!

The NY Daily News has its original building on 42nd and 3rd. I visited it recently. Only they are no longer in their flagship building (the one used as The Daily Planet in Superman), they moved downtown – way downtown to 4 New York Plaza, which is right next to the Staten Island Ferry building. That’s where I met with editors to talk about my comics. And they didn’t own the whole building, they just rented space on one or two floors. How the mighty have fallen.

I guess in reality, the reporters are out and about all day and probably filing their stories electronically, but to think there is no physical place is sad. Even in old westerns you see the old newspaper office, where you can walk right up to the place and walk in.

The new normal. A sign of the times. And when I think of all those old wonderful New York newspaper buildings – The World, The Sun, The Herald. A thing of the past.

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The New York Herald

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Park Row from left: The World, The Sun (the small building), the Tribune and The Times