NCSFest

On Saturday I watched the NCSFest all day. It was a a cartooning festival put on by the National Cartoonists Society Foundation. It was storming outside, so it was a perfect day to stay inside. You can see over nine hours of the fest here on YouTube, watch the whole thing or pick and choose by scrolling through. The schedule is here so you can see what comes on when.

The main seminar/talk I was interested in was The Superstars of Instagram, I wanted to see how they work and mainly how they get so many followers. The Awkward Yeti, for instance has 1.8 million followers! I interviewed Nick Seluk, The Awkward Yeti cartoonist once, you can see that here.

I also liked the talk on Creating a Successful Online Cartooning Business.

There was a lot of good stuff. Jim Davis, the Garfield cartoonist spoke from his studio and so did cartoonists explaining their process from doing comic strips and panels to creating books.

In between, the yearly Reuben Awards, which are the Oscars for cartoons/cartooning, were announced. The ceremony and events were canceled this year due to the pandemic. Awards are given or best newspaper comic strip of the year, best comic panel, best greeting card comic, best online comic strip, etc. The Daily Cartoonist has a list of winners here. There is then the Reuben Award for Cartoonist of the Year, which went to Lynda Barry.

I love this photo of Lynda, a real artist. The desk looks so comfortable, like you can just sit down and create. I am messy, but since I do all my work digitally on a Surface Pro, it isn’t strewn with all these wonderful tools and inks and pens and such. I literally have to turn on the computer and wait for it to set up. I can’t just get comfy and into it like Lynda here.

Garry Trudeau says that cartooning is like a public utility – you just expect it to be there when you want it.

Social interactions

I’m trying to think what life was like before social media or before reader interaction. Even when I started blogging in 2005, there were comments. Good or bad, you always knew what the reader thought.

As much as I say I don’t like comments or interactions on social media, I think I do. Basically because it’s nice to see people responding to my comics. It’s not that I need likes and shares, but it’s nice knowing that people are seeing the work and enjoying it (or not) enough to leave a simple thumb’s up.

I have a friend who is against social media, and it sort of reminds me of him saying something like, “Is life about how many likes you get?” No, no it’s not, but when you write a book or paint a picture or produce a movie, you do want people to like and respond to your work.

Which makes me think of what life was like for cartoonists before social media, and maybe even today for those who are published daily in the newspapers. They create the comic and it’s published and then what? Crickets? There is an audience, but no instant response like you would have with a live audience. But I guess that’s how tv and movies have been for years, you put it out there and don’t instantly get the audiences response. Do they like it? Are they watching?

With social media, it’s instant and the reader is part of the process, right there – live.

One place where I don’t interact is on Instagram – not the comments section, I do interact there, but I’m talking about the private messages. The main reason is because most of it, 9 out of 10, are spam. But I did make a mistake last week of responding to a reader and it ended up being a bad thing – he was one of those stalker types who wanted to argue, so I regretted reading his messages and then responding to them. I won’t do that again.

But other than that, it’s nice to get a response of some sort, even a simple thumb’s up. Sort of like getting applause on a stage or something, knowing the audience is out there.

I hate when that happens

This cartoon ran yesterday. People really liked it. It was shared hundreds of times on social media. Only there is a mistake – Patagonia is spelled wrong! An amateur mistake to be sure. A reader pointed that out to me so I panicked and changed it to the one you see here below.

It’s not the same, the shading in the background had to be changed to accommodate the change. But it’s bothering me because it’s such a popular cartoon and all those people who shared it, shared a misspelled cartoon. I don’t think they know, but I know and it bothers me, a lot.

I had every country in the world to choose from and I chose a country I didn’t know how to spell. Murphy’s Law.

My comics goals

comicsFor most of my life, I daresay for all of my life, my goal was to have a daily comic strip on the newspapers. A syndicated comic strip was my life’s dream.

For a few years – maybe 10 or so, I dropped that dream, I started a business and concentrated on that. I’m not a businessman or into that, but that was my life. I think I didn’t see a future in comics for anyone and I felt that the dream was dead.

But then it resurrected and my goal was to be published and be in print. I only had that goal in mind. I felt that comics were created for newspapers and that is the only place to be if you created a comic strip or panel. It was like producing a movie – you want it on the big screen. But things change.

Now I am not interested in being in print, which was a shock and horror moment for me to even conceive of this. It was so out of my normal thinking. But in reality, the readers are online. I myself have stopped reading comics in newspapers years ago. For one thing, I never care for the selection the newspapers have and I can pick and choose what I like.

Even with movies, there is a brand new world out there. You get more viewers for most movies on Netflix and Amazon than you do in the theaters. And that is how comics are.

My goal is to have millions of followers on social media – especially on Instagram. Yes, I said millions! And this is not a strange concept. Many cartoonists have millions of followers and many have hundreds of thousands! That’s where people are reading comics.

I have quite a nice following on Facebook and it’s growing on Instagram. I also publish on my own website. Eventually I would like to be part of GoComics and I’ve been working on getting press lately. I think if I get local or national press, it will give me a big bump in readership.

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.

I like what Jason says

“Don’t curate your art to what gets likes. Curate it to what you like.”

jason-chatfieldThat’s a quote from cartoonist Jason Chatfield from a recent interview in Medium. Jason is the Ginger Meggs comic strip cartoonist and also a New Yorker caroonist. Ginger Meggs is a 100 year old comic strip from Australia, that Jason took over in 2007.

I like what he says about the art and cartooning being what the creator likes rather than the audience. I do seem to concern myself with the audience. But I do get a bit giddy when a cartoon is completed, so I guess I do like what is being put out there.

About The New Yorker magazine, he says – “be prepared for rejection,” which is what I am up against whenever I send them submissions. But they get so many submissions and they probably just whiz by them.

Another thing that Jason says is that he ignores social media. While he posts on social media, he ignores the comments. It would be nice to do that too in many cases, but I think the whole point of social media is to be social, so reading the comments and interacting with readers is just part of the process. If I don’t like a comment I just ignore it.

I met a syndicated cartoonist a few years back who has the comments blocked on his GoComics site. So he publishes daily, but gets no feedback, which works for him but again, everything has comments these days – Facebook, blogs, news articles – comments are sort of what’s expected.

So anyway, enough about Jason, Jason, Jason. I just thought some of the things he said were quite interesting.

Benilda is quite popular

benlidaThis particular cartoon which was posted Friday, got the most shares on Facebook of any of my recent work. I did have one of my comics shared on Facebook by George Takei once that got almost 100,000 shares. Can you imagine, 100,000 shares! The power of popularity and numbers.

This Benilda comic got about 2400 shares to date. Amazing. 2400 times an average of 400 friends for each person is 960,000 – almost 1 million potential readers! And that’s just Facebook, there are thousands of other readers on my TomFalco.com website and on Instagram, along with people sharing that I don’t know about.

It’s interesting what is popular and what isn’t. I’m not sure why this one struck popularity nerve with people but maybe it’s about driving or not knowing how to drive a stick shift, that is a popular subject I suppose.

A couple of people liked the name Benilda. So do I. I got it from a real person. A real person who I don’t actually know. It’s a customer. She purchases items from me online and has for years, but we’ve only dealt electronically, I’ve never seen or spoken to her, not even on the phone, but I love the name Benilda. I had another comic strip I was working on where the wife was named Benilda, but I never did publish that strip. While I did about 30 of them, I didn’t enjoy drawing the same characters and situations day after day, I much prefer the single panel where I can have different characters and scenes each day.

I have been posting short videos of me working on Instagram stories, I noticed that many of the popular and well read cartoonists do that, and they do even more – they constantly have videos of anything having to do with their life. One popular guy has videos today of him flying a kite with his son. It used to be “go fly a kite,” was a negative thing, but he made it fun positive thing to watch. I guess there are so many comics that it’s about the personality behind the comics, so I’ll post more of that and me, I suppose mostly on Instagram. I layout out my life here on the blog, too, of course.

Shark Week starts today. I’ll be posting a few shark related comics this week.

The World

newspaper1

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.

newspaper2

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.

Such a great period in time.

The summer house

shoecomic

Today’s comic seems to be very popular. In less than an hour of being posted, it already has 100 shares on Facebook.

I’m noticing that the silly comics get more play – more likes, more shares, more attention.

I personally like the esoteric ones, you know, the ones that make you think, but it seems that the comic reading public likes these silly ones. It’s something to think about.

When I look at this one, I wonder, where are they? Are they at a lake? Are they in the mountains? I know I drew it, but I didn’t give the location much thought.

I am always making changes, up until the last moment before it’s published and one thing I wish I would have changed now is changing the word “home” to “rental,” so it reads, “I love how you children are taking to our summer rental!” Like here.

new-shoe-COMIC

Sharing is caring

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Not bad – check this out. Today’s comic is doing well after only one hour on Facebook – there are 106 shares already – going viral fast.

I love when people share the posts/comics – it’s really helped with circulation on Facebook, there are about 13,000 fans/followers in just a few weeks!

On Instagram there are about 2500, but it’s going slow because they don’t have a share button. I think there are two things Instagram needs – a share button and a way to add a link in the write up area. I’m wondering why they don’t have that since they are a part of Facebook and it would really help out with more engagement.

As you know, you can follow my Tomversation comics here:

Online at TomFalco.com and at Facebook and Instagram here:
Facebook.com/Tomversation.toons
Instagram.com/tomversation.toons