Do you get the gag?

who

I wrote about the “boomer” comment the other day and that makes me wonder, as I often do, “who is my audience?” I mean when you publish comics you have a demographic, but what is the audience if you publish a general interest cartoon?

I’m a boomer, but I do think younger. So can I combine the two? Will everyone get the gags?

I have often felt that if one or two gags get past a few people, so be it, it then becomes an inside joke, and I like that idea.

There’s a comic site called Comics I Don’t Understand. So I guess not every comic is understood and that’s ok.

My goal is to have readers of all generations. Why not? Today entertainment is segmented from movies to music to tv. There are so many different genres and they all cater to different elements of society. It’s micro-segmented. There was a time when there were a few tv channels and we sort of all watched the same thing, then cable came into being and there were hundreds of channels. I saw an ad recently for some sort of tv service that offered 2000 tv channels, is that possible?

Years ago I used to read the tv ratings in the newspapers. Once a week they listed the top 10 or 20 shows for the week – they had two lists – one for white America and one for people of color. And it always amazed me that they were nowhere similar. Seinfeld was number 1 on the white America list but at the bottom of the list or nowhere on the list for people of color! And vice versa, the shows that they watched, white America didn’t seem to watch.

Of course it’s the same with music, movies and so on.

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I have more followers on Facebook than Instagram. I know that Facebook is not a favorite with the younger generation and Instagram is, so if I want that younger audience, I need to step up my Instagram game. But also, Facebook has a “share” feature which is used often on my work, Instagram needs a “share” feature. That will help tremendously. Look at this comic above, only posted 10 minutes on Facebook and already 13 shares! By the end of the day I expect over 100 shares. This is the beauty of Facebook.

You can see the Facebook site at facebook.com/Tomversation.toons and Instagram at instagram.com/tomversation.toons. By own cartoon website is at TomFalco.com.

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Hey boomer!

So I had to grow a thick skin when I published the daily news for all those years. It really got rough at times and I don’t think I ever really got a thick skin. My solution was to take my name and anything to do with me off Google Alerts. Seriously. Hide my head in the sand, that’s me.

spicy-dan-printBut now that I am publishing comics daily, I see it has come back – people leaving comments I’m not crazy about. One guy thinks I stole a comic from elsewhere, another doesn’t understand one comic and another called my one comic, the one about Dan and the angry spicy food which ran a week or so ago, “Boomer humor!”

Rather than get offended, which I did at first, I told him, wait for the next comic, you’ll really see boomer humor. And that was the Columbo comic. Speaking of this Columbo comic, a guy, a boomer in fact, commented that he hates Columbo and turns it off every time it comes on. I got offended at that. I really do need get thicker skin. I’m not even Columbo and I get offended!

colombo-printI’m guessing people know Columbo, even if they are 16-years-old, I mean everything is in reruns or available for instant streaming these days and if you don’t know Columbo you don’t know what you’re missing.

I am glad to get comments, it shows me that people are paying attention, you know, say what you will about me, just spell my name right – that sort of thing.

There is one cartoonist who on GoComics, has all comments turned off. I get it. I ran into him one time at a ComicCon and I didn’t really know what to say when we met, because I’m not really a reader of his comic so there was nothing to talk about, so I mentioned the “no comments” thing and we chatted about that for a bit. I guess it’s about putting your heart and soul into something and then having someone tear it apart, which I guess we are all guilty of on social media. It’s so easy to hide anonymously behind a keyboard.

The anatomy of a cartoon

So I published two weeks of Tomversation comics. Love the feeling, it brings back memories of years ago when I published daily. I am good with deadlines, I published the daily news in our neighborhood for 15 years, published daily comics and also printed and published things for so many years, including school newspapers that I guess every day is a deadline for me.

Anyway, the first comic, the “May the 5th be with you,” started out differently and I changed and redrew it many times. The day before it was to be published I started playing with it. You can see some of the incarnations here. There were more with changes related to these.

These are the finished ones, after I thought I was done and ready for publication, then I went back and moved things around and in some cases just redrew from scratch. You know, when I had Obi-Wan Kenobi handing Luke the bottle in the one drawing, I was wondering why is he just handing him a bottle in the middle of nowhere. Then I thought of the bar and added a couple of musicians, but still it wasn’t right.

I didn’t want to end up drawing that chaotic scene in the small panel I had to work with, so I ended up with the two of them at the table with Chewbacca and I did leave out Han Solo, who I believe is at the table, too. It was just too busy for everyone and everything.

This is what I love about single panel cartoons, too. You have that space and you have to make best use of it. Some guy mentioned on a social media site that the cartoon is a copy of some meme. I don’t remember seeing the meme, but that is the one thing I don’t like about single panel cartoons, it seems that everything has been done before. I’m guessing the “5th be with you” part is what he is referring to in the meme, not the whole bar set up, etc. But this is my concept, from my brain and that’s how it came to be.

Anyway, as you can see, first it was just a bartender and a guy in the bar, then the bartender ended up with a Darth Vader mask on then it ended up being the wookie bar or whatever that is on Star Wars and on and on and it finally because what it is.

I usually take 45 minutes to an hour to complete one panel cartoon, this one took six to seven hours with all the re-draws and changes!

Stephan Pastis – 10 With Tom

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

I did this interview with Stephan Pastis a few years ago. For a long time I did a bunch of 10 With Tom interviews for the Huffington Post. I’m thinking of getting back into doing that. Anyway, here is Stephan.

I got the chance to ask Stephan Pastis, creator of the comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, my Ten With Tom questions. Stephan has one of the most popular comic strips around, his tipping point was when Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, noticed his work and mentioned it in a blog post. The rest is history. His online readership went through the roof overnight.

He won the 2015 Reuben Award for best newspaper comic strip. I’m trying to follow in his footsteps with my comics, so it truly was an honor doing Ten With Tom with Stephan.

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Do people mistake you for Seth Macfarlane?

I’ve heard that before, but the one I hear more is Robert Downey, Jr.  I even had a restaurant owner in Dublin, Ireland tell me what an honor it was to have Robert Downey, Jr. in her restaurant. I told her that I appreciated it, but that I didn’t like to be disturbed while dining.

Why do you create your comics 7 months in advance, why so far ahead?
I’m anal retentive.  I need to relax.

Are you recognized on the street?
Almost never. Except as Robert Downey Jr. in Dublin.

What are a few of your favorite classic newspaper comics from your childhood?

Far Side
Calvin and Hobbes
Peanuts
Bloom County

Flintstones or Scooby Do?
Scooby. There’s always someone trying to scare away prospective house buyers by filling it with fake ghosts and/or monsters. Knowing that the ghost thing is a sham, I could probably get a great deal on real estate.

Which comic strip would you like to crawl into and spend the day?
Krazy Kat. Lots of peyote and throwing bricks at others.

Dick Tracy or Little Orphan Annie?
It wouldn’t be Annie. Her lack of pupils would be disturbing, particularly if you fell in love. You could never look into her eyes.

What section of the printed daily newspaper today should be eliminated to add more comics?
Many of the comics.

Without looking, what color is Olive Oyl’s dress?
Top half of her is red. Bottom half of her is black.  Both halves are probably stained by spinach.

Do you think you’ll ever go digital in creating Pearls Before Swine? Why?
No. Too lazy to learn. Plus, it doesn’t seem like something Robert Downey Jr. would do.

Thank you Stephan!

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Lady Gaga announced ‘One World’ concert

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I was watching Morning Joe yesterday and there was Lady Gaga talking about a concert that will be on MSNBC Saturday, April 18, the “One World: Together at Home” concert, a sort of Live Aid, but it’s not a fundraiser, it’s just a night of entertainment to get everyone’s mind off our current situation.

What made me laugh was her background. I had written about how everyone has such interesting homes, many with bookshelves, and one of the richest, most famous women in the world has this plain white background, with a desk lamp. While she is all that when on the stage, she is just one of us in “real life.” I had seen others on tv with their awards in the background, you know,  an actual shelf or grammys or emmys or whatever, but not Gaga. Love that about her.

Here she is on YouTube, announcing the concert – same background.

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Comic awareness

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Alfred E. Neuman and Pete Buttigieg

The Daily Cartoonist recently had an article about the younger generation not being aware of past comic references, like when Pete Buttigieg was compared to Alfred E. Neuman, many younger people had no clue what that meant, or Andy Capp was referenced on a late night show and it went flat, younger people didn’t know Andy Capp.

I find this interesting because when I’m cartooning, I try to think in my head about the audience. Who is my audience? I go back and forth. I make references to things in the past but more often than not I refer to current things that the older audience doesn’t understand. That was common when I published daily a few years back.

I would use a current term associated with today’s youth and the readers didn’t have a clue. But then I realized that perhaps it is because of where I was posting. It was basically a site read by older folks, people who actually hold the newspaper in their hands and read comics and news!

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Andy Capp and his wife Flo.

When I start publishing Tomversation on May 4th, I will publish on my own website, but also I will publish on Facebook here and Instagram here and I assume that most of the readers on those platforms will be younger more than older, although Facebook seems to be out of favor with the younger crowd, but they still like Instagram.

So it will be interesting to see which group accepts my work more, or which group understands and gets my work more – not that it’s anything too complicated, but I do make references that will be from the past or more current, the spectrum that covers my knowledge and age I guess. But I’ve always liked the fact that not everyone gets a comic. I feel when that happens it’s an inside joke.

I didn’t understand this Tiger King thing that was going around – the memes and stories and things people were saying and posting online, so I looked it up and I’m all caught up now; not with the show, but knowing what Tiger King is about and how he fits into current pop culture.

Don’t lose perspective

shamelessI saw this online – A college student was reminiscing about the caronavirus of 2020 with his mother 10 years from now, in 2030 and the mother was telling him what a horrible time it was – “everything was shut down, grocery stores were out of everything, people were dying, the economy was a disaster because no one could work, we were all frightened ….”

“Don’t you remember?” she asked him.

He said, “All I remember was the school closing and being home schooled. I remember doing scavenger hunts in our yard, I remember eating meals as a family for a change, I remember getting great sleep because I wasn’t up late for homework or getting up early for school. I remember board games as a family. I remember watching our pastor on our laptop. Honestly, it was the happiest time of my childhood.”

You know what? I feel the same, right now as it’s happening. I’ve always seen the glass as half full. Sure, money is tight, bills have to be paid, but I don’t dwell on that. While friends panic around me and I have to shut them off most of the time, I feel happy. I sent a friend who is like the mother in the meme, only 100 times worse, and his response was more drama, he ignored the meme and started in with the drama of the day. I can’t understand how people exist like this. We are all in this together, not just us, but the whole world. That should give you some sort of odd comfort. You are not alone. Billions of people are in this with you.

I have been turning these drama-filled friends off and I am enjoying the solitude. I have been Spring cleaning as I said before, I get up early and watch tv, I love not having to answer 100 emails that came in over night since there are no emails coming in these days.

I stay up late and watch tv, not going to be earlier as I usually do. I go for walks around the neighborhood. For so many years I would go to the beach almost daily, I would eat lunch or stay and swim and run and hang out, I have not done that for years. But once this mess is over and the beaches open up again, I plan on doing that.

I have plans to downsize, I’ve been thinking about it so I have been house hunting online, planning my future. You know, I’ve been making the best of this time. I loved an episode of Shamless so much that I watched it twice. When do we ever have time to do that? It’s Season 2, Episode 11, “Just Like the Pilgrims.” That’s my favorite episode so far. With Breaking Bad there are two episodes that are my favorites that I can watch over and over Dead Freight and Face Off, the name is so perfect for the episode.  I would watch these two episodes over and over. Dead Freight is my all time favorite. But (spoiler alert), I don’t know why they had to kill the boy on the moped at the end. That’s the one part I don’t like.

Anyway, I’m seeing life in a whole new way.  I am feeling a shift. Whenever there have been changes in my life, I get this feeling. I don’t mean bad changes, I mean life changes, like moving or getting a new job, or things like that. I am feeling that now – a fresh, new beginning is coming.

Don’t lose perspective.

Selling my services; taking commissions

fiverr13I’ve never been one to take commission work, but in these hard times where I don’t have money coming in, I am taking commissions. In the past I did a lot of work for newspapers and magazines – and books – single panel and editorial cartoons – and drawings for advertisements. I remember when I was in high school I used to do spot drawings for a local magazine. I still have all that published work somewhere, probably at my parents house in storage.

I’m also selling comics that I’ve sold before. What I mean is, take this Flintstones comic. Over the years I have sold this to numerous realtors.

I didn’t set out to sell it, I didn’t realize it was online anywhere. I may have posted it online a few years back and perhaps people shared it and it got around that way. My copyright info is at the bottom of the comic and thankfully the people who shared the comic left it there, as that is the proper thing to do when sharing other peoples’ work. But anyway, people reached out to me, they literally searched for my email address and asked to purchase the rights the comic. This has happened many times for this exact comic panel. Out of the blue I got emails, I blogged about it here.

I made a deal to sell them the rights, they purchased the comic and used it for their marketing – usually on postcards or business cards according to the buyer. And all of the buyers were realtors so far I think, except for a magazine publisher.

Anyway, I’m selling the rights for this and I’m doing commission work, starting off with low prices, until I get volume orders. I know my work is worth more, but I need to start somewhere and test the waters. It seems that every time you start a project, there are so many other people out there doing the same thing, especially on the internet. But the good part about cartooning, illustrating and art is that everyone has their own style and that’s what sells, rather than everyone competing to sell the same thing like a regular product or service.

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Before and after colorization.

I am also recoloring old black and white photos. I learned how to do that with Photoshop so I thought I might as well make use of my “talent” and make a few bucks.

It’s amazing how this downtime is changing lives, people are doing things differently and thinking differently. Friends have told me they have taken up cooking and they are working out more and so many of us are doing Spring cleaning and so on. I have a friend who is doing workout classes online and it’s really such a renaissance for so many people.

Anyway, please reach out to me if you need art for anything – personal or commercial: tom@tomversation.com. Thanks!

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Andy Warhol hoarding soup cans

andy-warhol

Saw this picture online titled, “Andy Warhol hoarding Campbell’s Soup Cans and Brillo Boxes.” I thought it was funny. I saw some of the Brillo boxes along with the paintings recently at the Whitney  in NY.

I see he is in Gristede’s a NYC supermarket. I saw Carol Channing once in Gristede’s in NYC, it was years ago, on 59th Street near 5th Avenue, she was at the check out in front of me. The second she spoke she gave herself away – that voice!

Once Mary Wickes was in front of me in line in the supermarket here in Miami – I think it was at Grand Union. She commented on the Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies I was buying. Her hair was snow white not like the jet black you know her as having.

Which brings me to Hello Dolly!, probably Carol Channing’s most famous roles, since I’m doing 6 degrees of everything – I saw Hello Dolly! a couple of summer’s ago, back in NY, with Bernadette Peters as Dolly.

I have been social distancing by staying home, but I did run out to get corned beef and cabbage at a local hang out. I got take-out, but I was quite surprised to see the place so full at lunch time. I thought the governor shut down restaurants and bars and only allowed take-out, but I guess that didn’t take place yet. The place was full of people, more than the allowable 50% and people were closer than 6 feet. I’m concerned as I want this freaking virus gone already – if we don’t stop infections it will never go away.

People need to stay at home to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Single panel vs comic strip

IMG_4076I’ve been asked why I like single panel cartoons rather than comic strips.

I like to read both, I appreciate both, but for my own projects, I prefer the single panel. They both have their pros and cons to me.

A single panel comic might seem harder in theory, as each day is a single gag that has to be funny, where a comic strip can move the story along without being a belly laugh daily because once you know the characters, you don’t have to be funny every day.

With a comic strip or even a panel with the same characters daily, I’ve found that they write themselves after awhile. Their own personalities come out and you can have a character stare out into the audience and get a laugh without even saying anything. But I get bored drawing the same characters and basic situations day after day.

While a single panel may be a bit difficult where you have to come up with different situations and gags daily, I really enjoy that. I like having different characters and different situations; different time periods -future, past, whatever. As for coming up with the gags, I don’t seem to have a problem with that, I guess it’s just how my mind works. I’ll hear something or read something and I then sort of twist it in my mind and get a comic out of it. I don’t do that to get a comic, I just think like that on a daily basis!

The comic strips take me from three to four hours to complete each strip, where a single panel can take from 45 minutes to an hour. I was told one time by a comics editor that I work too fast, he could tell that by looking at my work, not watching me work, but just by looking at the completed comics.

I like the fact that with a single panel comic, it is easily shared on social media. You don’t have to know the characters, you don’t have to know the storyline, it is just a single gag that you might enjoy and share. I’ve had single panel comics shared on social media by thousands of people and liked by thousands, where I don’t know if that would be the case with a strip unless it’s Peanuts or Pearls Before Swine or something like that.

So I hope you’ll be following Tomversation daily when I start publishing my comic starting May 4th. You can follow here online (that’s a different address than this blog, or at Instagram: instagram.com/tomversation.toons/  and Facebook: facebook.com/Tomversation.toons/

Go ahead, follow now so you won’t miss out on premier day!!

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