Carping on a comic cop-out

I know I am WAY late on this, but what the hell — better late than never, right? Besides, since the comic strip that’s the topic of this entry is still taking up real estate in quite a few newspapers, I think it’s still worthy.

You know what pisses me right the hell off? When you have a cartoonist who draws a comic strip whose characters age in real time, and said cartoonist draws the strip for almost three decades and just decides to wrap everything up in one Sunday strip and then start telling the story all over again with old and new strips. What of those of us who had been reading said strip for at least two of those three decades and wanted to see what happened with the next generation? Sure, we found out in that one Sunday strip, but I am baffled as to why any newspaper would waste space on something that its longtime readers had already seen. I understand the cartoonist wanted to take a break, but that seems like a moot issue, considering that (from what I understand) other people were involved with its production. I was glad to see the Beaumont Enterprise replace the strip with Pearls Before Swine. Would that other newspapers followed suit. God only knows what kind of talent is being denied exposure because of their running those old strips.

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One Response to “Carping on a comic cop-out”

  1. southtexaspistolero Says:

    Kelly (209.30.249.156)
    I doubt many newer artists are being denied serious amounts of exposure this way. In fact, this may be a factor in why papers will keep running old stuff. Many newer artsists don’t want to go through the hassle of trying to get picked up for syndication. Not when anybody who wants to can create a webcomic. There’s a lot of crap in webcomics, but people stop paying attention to those fairly quickly and move on to the better work. Artists and writers who do webcomics with dedication, rather than someone who goes at it haphazardly when and if they remember to, do quite well. And thay do it without needing to lock themselves into contracts, or pay for a lot of the things the artists who do syndicated strips or publish comic books through more traditional means have to. They have more control over how their material is presented, publicized, licensed, etc. Over the past couple of years, I’ve seen several long-time artists and writers advise people to skip the hassle and put it out there yourself. I’ve also seen webcomics that started out as nothing more than someone’s hobby pick up a following fast enough to become a second income for them. That’s in the course of, say, six months to a year of putting the comic out there. An artist could easily spend much longer than that just trying to find someone who would print their work by going the traditional route. I don’t know how much this really is or isn’t affecting papers, but I’d think it’s going to start affecting them if it isn’t already. Webcomic artists are putting out Dead Tree Editions, as well… being able to show a publisher that they already have a following and fans are asking for a book. The day may come when the best comics are online or in the bookstore, but not in the newspaper.
    March 31, 2010, 7:08:43 PM CDT – Like – Reply – Edit – Moderate

    Sabra (24.28.140.212)
    And yet you’re fine with “Classic Peanuts.”

    Kelly, I’m not too sure about your assertion that there’s not a lot of talent seeking syndication in newspapers’ print editions (and online, frequently). The Express-News wound up not keeping FBoFW, and actually replaced several comics–there are, I think, four new ones. During the decision stage, they ran two new comics for a short time (a week or two, IIRC) for something like four or six months. There was no shortage of strips, and there are plenty of strips I’ve seen in other papers over the years that just didn’t make it into this one for even a test run. The talent is there, they’re just not making use of it.

    I’m not sure how many webcomics are legitimately successes either. Jeph Jacques manages to make a living off Questionable Content, and I am fairly certain the author of Day by Day does as well, but I can’t think of anyone else offhand. Even most of the print collections of those webcomics I’ve seen are from vanity presses rather than major publishers.
    March 31, 2010, 9:03:57 PM CDT – Like – Reply – Edit – Moderate

    Kelly (209.30.249.156)
    I know of at least three or four others that are a primary or secondary income (as opposed to “a few extra bucks now and then”) for the artists, but I got stuck at trying to remember if “xkcd” is Randall Munroe’s full-time job or not. When I went to look that up, I found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_self-sufficient_webcomics

    I definitely wonder about “Girl Genius”, because I’d imagine Phil Foglio already has enough success that he could afford it if the comic didn’t do so well financially.

    The entry does note that, “Of the thousands of webcomics, very few produce significant income; in general the creator of a website is lucky if it can support even its own hosting bills.” I wouldn’t argue with that. I would say I think a huge part of that is because anybody can start a webcomic. Plenty of webcomics would never make it on paper because the artist would be (rightfully) laughed right out of the office.

    I really was speculating on how webcomics may or may not affect newpapers. My point was more that I hear and see artists who don’t want to run the risk of suffering career-killing lack of exposure going for online work instead. And I haven’t heard any of them say later that they wish they’d done otherwise. The ones who do get the chance to be picked up in print as well take it, but I’m not hearing anyone I talk to say they think they could have done better if they’d tried the traditional media instead of doing it on their own.

    And with how many options are opening up for witers to do the same, I hear more writers who are trying to get a start in the business talk about going it on their own, as well. The way they talk about it, if you aren’t Neil Gaiman you have to hope another Stephanie Meyer copy doesn’t pop up before someone looks at your work. These people are tired of not getting a chance because some other new writer has churned out something that will simply cash in on the previous author’s success. (Not to say Stephanie Meyer did that, but that there seemed to be a lot of “Twilight”-like books right after her’s became a hit.)

    And I’m perfectly willing to admit my view is biased because of who I’m talking to. I do my own work online, and the people I’m working with do as well, so we’re probably just more likely to run across artists and writers who are more interested in working that way.
    March 31, 2010, 10:04:04 PM CDT – Like – Reply – Edit – Moderate

    thepistolero (68.203.231.7)
    And yet you’re fine with “Classic Peanuts.”

    Heh. Well, not exactly “fine,” just “not thinking if the artist doesn’t want to keep telling the story then he or she ought to bow out and give that space to some fresh content.” At least Charles Schulz has the excuse of being dead. From what I’ve read he drew till a few months before he died. And I wouldn’t be the least bit upset if papers started taking it out, though I know there would be those who would…
    April 1, 2010, 8:08:11 AM CDT

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