Be an Arts Hero

This cartoon from earlier in the pandemic is being rerun today as part of the Be An Arts Hero campaign, which is Monday, March 15. Cartoonists from all over the world are participating to bring awareness to the arts. Cartoons will start spreading across social media at 9 am eastern time.

The AAEC (Association of American Editorial Cartoonists) has been asked to spread the word about Be An Arts Hero, a push by the arts and cultures sector for direct government support of creatives during the time of coronavirus.

Be An #ArtsHero is joining a national effort of Arts Workers, urging the Biden/Harris administration to support the Arts and Culture sector. Together, cartoonists contributed to this political cartoon initiative.

An original cartoon (or a repurposed or existing cartoon on the subject), is to illustrate a unique point of view on the particular struggles of editorial cartoonists during this crisis.

I chose to repurpose the one shown above, which was first published towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Hashtags and tags include: #ArtsWorkersUnite, #ArtsHero #First100Days, and @JoeBiden, @KamalaHarris, @WhiteHouse, and @BeAnArtsHero. So if you look for them after today, you’ll see the cartoons all over social media and at BeAnArtsHero.com.

The arts and culture stats sheet can be seen here. You’ll see the large economic impact the arts have on our country.

My subconscious mentor

Recently I was interviewed for a publication and they asked me about my influences. I mentioned Hanna-Barbera and Charles Schultz and of course Ralph Dunagin, who I only recently realized was a big influence on my work. I had written about that in June 2020, when Ralph passed away.

For all these years I had not thought about him, but when he passed away and stories and images of his work started appearing, it struck me right away that that was my work! I was looking at my own work, yet it was Ralph’s work, who I was influenced by.

I don’t want to say I copied him, because I never did and I never traced or drew his work like I did with others. I never traced Fred Flintstone, yet I drew him all the time as a kid. Same as Peanuts characters – I drew them over and over. But with Ralph’s work, especially his Dunagin’s People comic strip, I only viewed it and subconsciously studied it, but I never recreated it on paper, I never copied or drew it – I saved it only in my head I guess. And I don’t remember doing that. It was all so subtle.

I find it so interesting. I subconsciously studied his line work. He was an “unassuming influence,” as I called my last blog story on him. I draw clothing in his style and I don’t connect the lines when I draw, just like him. I also draw feet like he does. I literally see his work in my work. Only I never knew it until recently. So that is really a case of subconsciousness. All these years it was right in front of my eyes, but I never knew it.

The new normal?

Today’s cartoon reflects something that may be happening in the country; maybe the world. I haven’t seen it personally, but they started talking about it on tv. People who have been vaccinated have an air of arrogance and superiority. And maybe they should.

I got vaccinated yesterday! I hadn’t planned it, I’m not of age yet and I’m not a front line worker, but I got a note from my doctor and I made an appointment at Publix. I tried other places; hospitals and such, but I ended up at Publix. Ironically, I ended up at my family’s Publix. What I mean is the one where I grew up and went to as a kid and where my parents still go. It’s only four blocks from their house! The appointment just popped up and I grabbed it when I had the chance.

I got there early and there only ended up being three of us there – a lady and a man and me. We were in and out fast and it went well. We joked about seeing each other in a month for our next shot. “See you, same place, same time.”

Publix didn’t ask for ID or the doctor’s note or insurance card or anything, which seemed strange, but I guess it’s all about getting people vaccinated more than the paperwork and other stuff. I heard they are opening it to almost everyone now and it’s really going well. When President Biden said there would be 100 million vaccines in 100 days, I doubted that, but it’s happening, we are almost there!

I stopped at my parents’ house for breakfast after my first shot and I’ll do it again after my second shot. Happy that I am on my way to normalcy.

A good friend of mine is against vaccines, I don’t think she has ever been vaccinated in her life. I mentioned that I had seen articles that said in the future if you don’t have a vaccine, you may not be able to fly. I think some airlines in Europe started that rule already. My friend is not happy about this, but that could be the new normal. There is talk of digital “travel passports” now, for domestic and international travel.

I didn’t mind last year, I am glad I experienced it – all the changes in the world, etc. But I think it’s time to get back to normal now. The new normal. Whatever that is.

Redoing an old cartoon

Today’s comic is an old one. I originally did it in the late 1990s, and I liked the sound, the alliteration better. The one on the right is the old one – AOL/A&P, two things from the past. I know AOL is still around, but it’s not as common as it was in the ’90s. Just thinking about it and I hear that old fashioned dial tone sound it used to make when booting up. Remember that?

Another thing – many parts of the country say they are standing on line, rather than in line, which I guess is important for the gag, but I know you get it either way, right?

Looking forward to normalcy

I made a bunch of travel plans and reservations for later in the year – from the summer on. Hopefully things will be great then and we can travel without concern.

Things seem to be going back to normal little by little. I can sort of tell by the bay activity. What I mean is, I live on the bay, and I remember seeing so much activity in the water during the early days of the pandemic – people kayaking, paddle boarding and so much more, on a daily basis. Now I don’t see that much anymore. I guess now that people are out and about, they aren’t feeling trapped and bored, although all that fun and healthy activity seemed to do them good when they were feeling trapped and bored.

I did create a lot of cartoons which were covid-based – regarding masks, social distancing, working from home, and so on.

I keep seeing on the news that covid infections are dropping dramatically while vaccines are moving along. Many people I know were vaccinated, almost all getting both shots already, including my parents. I am anxious to get vaccinated. I have friends who are against it. But if the numbers of infections are dropping, something good is happening.

I’ve been asked many times if I got my shots. I am not quite sure how old people think I am. But I am nowhere near the age group that is being vaccinated currently.

I did sign up for a few waiting lists – like at Walgreens and CVS, so that when it opens up for the general public, I can get on the appointment list. My own doctor says he won’t have the vaccine for some reason, even though he always has the yearly flu shot.

Anyway, I am anxious to get on a plane again and get away. While last year seemed to fly by, it still was a long, anxious year. We are coming up on a year from when things started getting bad/serious. I remember watching Gov. Cuomo on tv every day, feeling calmed by his demeanor. I remember being afraid to leave the house for a month or so – getting food deliveries all the time.

I’m glad I blogged and cartooned a lot about it. I have it all recorded here in the archives and hopefully it will only live there and never in real life again.

You can see my comics at TomFalco.com, there are links to social media there, too, if you care to follow on a daily basis.

I love when people get it

So many times I hold back cartoons because I’m not sure most people will get it. The whole idea is to have people get the gag and laugh. So when that happens, I love that.

Today’s comic really is not going to be funny to people who don’t watch much tv.

Today’s cartoon.

But for tv watchers, it’s obviously a parody of the Domino’s Pizza commercial, which seems to be shown on tv every few minutes. It’s one of those “part of the culture” things, simply by being repeated over and over, sort of like the Bernie Sanders meme, which is still making the rounds. It’s all American pop culture I guess.

I have a friend who doesn’t watch much tv. When he saw my skunk- “We all see it” cartoon, he thought it was a political statement because of the blue streak, but of course thousands of you got it as a parody of the Progressive tv commercial, which is also a “part of the culture” thing.

I saw a talk or read it somewhere that a cartoonist said to just do what you like and the audience will follow. It’s true – it’s being true to myself when I do what I like and not pander to the audience. The audience will get where you are coming from. And they do, it seems.

Here’s the Domino’s commercial for those of you who don’t watch tv. It’s on tv every few minutes. Believe me.

A Bernie comic without Bernie

I threw today’s cartoon together last night.

I follow a bunch of art sites on Instagram – classical artists and museums. Yesterday I was looking at a Monet that came up on the screen and the first thing I did was look for Bernie! That’s when I knew I had to do a cartoon regarding the Bernie memes.

The beauty of it is that Bernie isn’t even in it!

I changed the text about 10 times until I was happy with what it said.

It’s all about the cavemen (and women)

It’s interesting that two of the most popular cartoons this year are caveman-related.

These two cartoons got more likes, shares and comments than most of the others.

I try to be more cerebral when I do cartoons and I prefer those, but apparently the readers like these goofy caveman ones.

What’s interesting is that as a child, I was very influenced by The Flintstones. I think the first character I ever drew was Fred Flintstone and I drew Fred over and over again as a child. So I guess there is something there.

This Flintstones comic below is liked by realtors. They have purchased the rights many times to use the image on their flyers and business cards and such.

Spicy (and mean) food

Today’s comic, above, reminds me of this comic which was published earlier this year, with Dan Souza from America’s Test Kitchen.

I noticed this weekend that American’s Test Kitchen started the new season and it’s from everyone’s own kitchen. In other words, they are working from home. It works, but I miss the interaction between the people.

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.