New Tomversation comics store

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I have a new Amazon store called Tomversation – you can see it here.

I’m offering all sorts of comics-related things from books and dolls to t-shirts and jewelry.

Please check it out. You might like something for yourself or as a gift and it supports this blog.

Thanks!

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10 things you didn’t know about Trading Spaces’ Paige Davis

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

paige-davisTrading Spaces is coming back! Yup, the granddaddy of DIY shows! Paige Davis is back along with most of the designers you might remember from the popular show that ran from 2000 to 2008. Along with Paige, returning are Doug Wilson, Genevieve Gorder, Hildi Santo-Tomas, Vern Yip, Frank Bielic, and Laurie Smith. Carpenters Ty Pennington and Carter Oosterhouse are back too!

As you may remember, two sets of neighbors redo a room at each others houses over a weekend with the help of two designers for that week.

The new version premiers Saturday, April 7 at 8 pm on TLC.

I had the chance to ask Paige the 10 With Tom Questions. Here we go . . .

TOM: How did the idea for the reboot come about?
PAIGE: I’m not 100% certain, but I believe TLC felt it was good timing on the heels of the nostalgia wave that is sweeping television right now. There are currently so many reboots of old shows. It’s comforting and fun. Waiting for Trading Spaces to air is like saving the best for last.

TOM: Had you kept in touch with any of the cast/designers over these past 10 years that the show was off the air?
PAIGE: Definitely. And Facebook and social media has made it even easier than before to keep up with each other’s lives.

TOM: Where will the shows be taped? One city? Different areas of the country as in the past?
PAIGE: Our show has always been taped around the country. This reboot is no different. This season there are episodes in southern California, Atlanta, and Baltimore.

TOM: Are you stopped by fans when you travel? What is their number one question?
PAIGE: I am stopped by fans sometimes, yes. The number one thing I’m asked is, “Will you come to my house?” I always say, “Careful what you wish for.”

TOM: Are you a designer, have you designed or did you just fall into the hosting aspect of the show?
PAIGE: I am not a designer. Though I do have a love of decor and design. I am a dancer/singer/actress by trade. Trading Spaces was simply a job I auditioned for. A bit of fluke that I booked it.

TOM: If you had one super power, what would it be?
PAIGE: To never be hungry or to be able to curb cravings with the wiggle of my nose.

TOM: What was the last tv show you watched?
PAIGE: Speechless.

TOM: What’s the last thing you took a picture of?
PAIGE: The Playbill cover of Carousel on Broadway. My dear friend is in the ensemble. We went to see her last night.

TOM: When you guys trade spaces, what is your favorite room in the house for a do-over?
PAIGE: I can’t speak for the designers, but I love when we do family rooms because they have the most jeopardy if the homeowners are disappointed. Lots at stake when it’s a room you spend a great deal of time in.

TOM: Starry Night, Mona Lisa or Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso?
PAIGE: Picasso, all the way.

TOM: Thanks Paige! We’ll be looking for you on April 7!

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Out with Huff Post in with Medium

I’ve started writing for Medium, moving away from Huffing Post (here is all my work there), where the stories get jumbled too much with politics.

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Not that I’m against politics, but I don’t write about politics, I write about art and culture. So I’ll be writing columns for Medium now. But interestingly enough, politics is the number one subject read about on Medium, but I think with Medium, you can choose the type of stories you would like to read so if you don’t want to see politics, you don’t have to.

I like that Medium is easier to navigate and it has more of the subject matter I like.

I will have two columns on Medium. One will be stories, articles and the other will be single-panel cartoons. I’ll let you know when I start publishing those.

At the end of 2016 Medium’s audience grew 140% to 60 million unique readers a month!

I have carried my 10 With Tom column there, I reposted the Stephan Pastis piece on Medium, which drew more readers than any one of my other columns at the Huff Post, about 100,000 people read that piece – my most popular one. That says a lot about Stephan.

I have been posting my stories under the “Medium Partner Program” where people who subscribe to Medium for $5 per month receive these stores. Not that they cannot be seen by everybody, but with the partner program I get paid each time partners read my stories.

The majority of Medium is free to read. 90% of the stories are free, it’s just the partner program stories that are not, well, they offer three free views per month, sort of like a newspapers’s paywall and I liken the partner program to a Patreon account where you receive some free goodies for subscribing.

But the majority of the same stories are posted here on my Tomversation blog, so you don’t have to go there to read my stories, but I would like you to maybe check them out just for the hell of it.

Here are three that have run in the past, but I have now had published on Medium:

10 things you didn’t know about cartoonist Stephan Pastis

It’s an underground world that’s full of history (lots of pics of the NYC Transit Museum

7 Reasons we’re addicted to HQ Trivia. Do you play this live trivia game?

I’ll start posting new stories at Medium and I have to start interviewing people for 10 With Tom again. You can see my past 10 With Tom’s here on Tomversation.

And when I start publishing my single panel cartoons, I’ll give you the link for that.

Loving this cartoonist roundtable

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From left: Tom Heintjes, Brian Walker, Greg Walker, Jeff Keane, Mason Mastroianni. Photo courtesy of Hogan’s Alley.

I read a really great interview in Hogan’s Alley, where editor Tom Heintjes sat down with some famous cartoonists,who took over the family business from their fathers and grandfathers. Jeff Keane of Family Circus, Mason Mastroianni of B.C. and Brian and Greg Walker who are Mort Walker’s sons, who work primarily on Beetle Bailey and Hi and Lois sat around a table and talked.

They bring up the dynasty aspect of cartooning, something that has always bothered me. When a cartoonist dies, should the strip continue? Did it run its course?

Greg Walker says, “We’ve got to do quality work, or papers will drop us like crazy. We did come in with a nice list, but there’s the pressure to maintain it.”

I never really thought of that. It has a leg up being a popular strip with lots of newspaper subscribers but as one of them said in the interview, “When you’re at the top, there is only one way to go.” But on the other hand, newspapers are loath to drop a comic because losing just one subscriber over that is not acceptable, so I do think that some of these older strips just stay there year after year because the newspapers don’t want to make waves by dropping them, even if it’s only a handful of people who read a particular strip.

They all agreed that the older strips mixed with the newer strips make up a complete comics page and there is something for everyone that way. I’ve always agreed with that, I just felt that the older strips should be the original older strips, not an extension by the second, third and sometimes fourth generation of artists. And don’t get me started on those who buy gags. To me a cartoonist writes the strips and draws the strips, sometimes along with someone else, but purchasing gags just makes the cartoonist an artist, not a cartoonist.

Brian Walker says of his dad Mort Walker: “My father has been asked millions of times why he doesn’t retire, and he says, ‘Why should I retire? I’ve got millions of readers who enjoy my strip!’ Why should he retire just because he’s getting old? When he started out, in 1950, he was competing against Pogo, Li’l Abner, Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie. None of those guys quit to make room for him — he scratched and clawed for every one of those 1,800 papers.”

The roundtable interview is here. It’s really good.

I bought Silly Putty

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I just bought Silly Putty. Remember this? Remember how it used to pick up newspaper comics? I wanted the original one, shown here, below. But I couldn’t find that. So I got this version, which supposedly is the real thing. I’ll let you know when I feel it and smell it, and try it on the comics.

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Is it live or is it Memorex?

25498421_1600075113416938_5282992848606003044_nThis old Memorex ad reminded me of high school. We had an English class called Rock Poetry and we discussed the lyrics and poetry of current rock music. It was a nice class.

The teacher didn’t know much about current music I think because one day she started pulling out cassette tapes that we had brought in (yes, cassettes) and asked, “What should we listen to next? The Beatles? Carol King? The Bee Gees? Memorex?

And we all laughed, and said, No! Memorex is the name of the cassette tape company!” It was so many years ago, but I remember that as if it was yesterday.

There was also this Maxell ad. Remember? It ran all over the place for years. il_570xN.1327002678_3dve

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I did a comic using my character Tombo the Rabbit doing the bit a few years ago.

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Chock full of memories

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I saw this ad on Facebook on some site that shows old ads. It brought back so many memories. My mother used to give us Chocks when we were kids. After all these years, this one ad made the memories come rushing back.

A while back, I saw an ad for a Fred Flintstone and Dino toy, and that brought back a floods of memories from playing with this at my grandmother’s house. I had seen the ad on Ebay and then a year or so later (just last month), I saw it at the Museum of the Moving Image in New York, along with all those long forgotten toys and items. That’s it below, Fred riding Dino. I can see it in my mind’s eye, on the floor, walking along, in front of the refrigerator at my grandmother’s house in Brooklyn.

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Something that I collected a few years ago are those old Flintstone glasses. We used to have those when I was a kid. Welch’s Grape Jelly came in them and then when the jelly was gone, you had the glass.

I saw a bunch on Ebay and bought them from different people over a period of time I must have a couple of dozen now. I didn’t realize they were so small, about 4 inches tall, but my mother tells me that she liked them because they were small. She says they were perfect for small children.

I have one jar that still has the jelly in it! I bought it on Ebay, too. Originally it was 29 cents, the label is still on the jar. What happened was a lady in New England closed her small grocery store in 1965 and just left everything as is. Years later when someone bought the store and went in for the first time, it was a time capsule of 1965. And this jelly jar came from that.

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An original Welch’s grape jelly jar from the early 1960s.

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Only 29 cents.

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Some of my large collection of original 1960s Flintstone glasses.

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