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!
Subscribe to this blog now. Receive Tomversation via email each time I publishClick here.
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.
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.
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!
You can subscribe to my blog now. Receive Tomversation via email each time I publishClick here.
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.
You can subscribe to my blog now. Receive Tomversation via email each time I publish Click here.
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 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.
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.
The New York Herald
Park Row from left: The World, The Sun (the small building), the Tribune and The Times
I’ve been reading out of town newspapers. Digitally. I’ve subscribed to a few.
The New York Daily News is not what it was, but I guess no newspapers are. I used to read three or four dailies a day when I was in New York – The Daily News, the NY Post, Newsday and the NY Times. Then it got down to just The Daily News and then nothing. I literally do not pick up a newspaper when I am in New York. I think it might be because the Daily News gave me the run around for years regarding my comics and I’m holding a grudge, but maybe not, there really is not much to read and I don’t like their comics selection.
They are also very small and not worth the money it seems. By the time you read the printed copy, the news was already printed all over social media. As for size – what’s old is new again, the shrinkage of the paper is really how they started. The original newspapers were about 8 or 12 pages long. The whole paper was that size. I have an original New York Herald from 1861 – it’s 8 pages. But that was the size of all the newspapers back then. There weren’t many photos or graphics and ads were small lines of text, not display ads, which of course would eventually come.
In the late 1980s, there was a newspaper war between The NY Daily News and the NY Post. Both had about 1 million circulation a day and they printed about eight issues a day. Eight new front pages each day, printed and out on the street! As I walked through the city, each time I passed a newsstand, it seemed that there was a new front page.
One of my favorite stories is the newspaper strike of 1945 in NYC. I have a video of it here. Millions of papers were sold when the distributors were on strike, but not the actual newspaper. People would line up, blocks long, to plunk down their nickel for the daily paper – there were about a dozen newspapers in the city at that time and millions of issues were sold daily! I would be old now, but sometimes I wish I lived in that era, just to experience the newspapers – the large sizes, the large comics, the multiple selections to choose from . . .
Until recently, in Hoboken, as soon as I got off the PATH train, I would pick up three newspapers – The Jersey Journal, The Newark Star-Ledger and The Bergen Record, all three were easily available, but again, I do not purchase the papers anymore. They cost too much. $5 to $8 a day (total for all) in newspapers is a bit much.
Anyway, I am digitally subscribing to The NY Daily News (grudge and all), the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Charlotte Observer and a few others. I get the Miami Herald digitally along with my printed subscription and I notice that a few of the newspaper also offer USA Today as a bonus, which I never go into and my cousin is always telling me how great it is.
I remember when USA first started, I was a kid then, but always loved newspapers. I used to think it was so cool – all the color and the whole national newspaper aspect of it. But I guess I like my newspapers to be local. I read different newspapers to get their take on their local market.
When I was a kid I used to love seeing the out of town newspapers for two things – the comics and the tv listings. I used to be fascinated by the different tv channels around the country and of course I loved seeing the comics selections and seeing comics that my local papers didn’t carry. And of course you can travel the world or the country, by reading out of state newspapers.
I came across these pictures on social media. You know how I love old newspapers and newspaper buildings and these are the best. Above is Park Row and you can see the New York World/Pulitzer Building at right. I’ve never seen it so close up before.
And here, from atop the old post office building you can see some of the newspapers to the right – The World, The Sun (that tiny building next to the World with the billboards on top), the Tribune and the NY Times. Only the Times building remains today.
You can’t please anyone. Travels With Farley from June 23, 1977.
The Washington Post has an article about the slow demise of editorial cartoons and cartoonists, because they are offending some readers and I guess in this day and age, newspapers need to hold on to all the subscribers they can.
Ironically, the first cartoons in newspapers were editorial cartoons from way back – in fact the first one ran in, 1754! Yup, in Benjamin Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette. You may have seen it over the years, it’s right here, the “join or die” image, regarding the colonies.
I’m often concerned about losing followers or readers, not by what I post, but sometimes what they say – in the comments sections, mostly on Facebook and Instagram. I keep my mouth shut, but at times I want to argue. I have been known to delete some comments that are racist or stupid.
But it is interesting that a couple of complaints over a cartoon and newspapers would rather dump the whole editorial cartoon department rather than a subscriber or two. Which often makes me wonder since there isn’t the competition there was years ago. Most cities only have one newspaper, so there is nowhere else for a reader to go if they are in the daily newspaper reading habit.
I feel they are spiting themselves by unsubscribing to a daily habit that they have probably had most of their lives. It’s just so easy to just turn the page – sort of like turning the tv channel if you don’t like something, rather than complaining to the network.