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Ann Telnaes ends print syndication for animation

Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Ann Telnaes is leaving her syndicated print editorial cartoons as of this Saturday to concentrate on her animated editorial cartoons that she creates for the Washington Post. The Post had asked her to increase the number of animations from two to three a week and Ann didn’t feel like she could do three as well as her print work.

“I decided to end the print syndication mainly for time reasons,” Telnaes said in reply to an E&P question late this afternoon. “When The Washington Post asked me to increase the animations, I realized I couldn’t realistically do both since I do all the animation myself. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to take the next step in editorial cartooning.”

Community Comments

#1 Dawn Douglass
June/3/2008
@ 7:26 am

Wouldn’t you love to know what she gets paid for these. It must be a decent amount if one animation can make up for the loss of syndication.

#2 Anne Hambrock
June/3/2008
@ 10:10 am

Well, this is bad news for me as I love her print cartoons and am lucky enough to see them often in my local paper. My computer is not sophisticated enough to run the animations so I will probably not get to see her work anymore.

#3 Dawn Douglass
June/3/2008
@ 10:30 am

Geez, Anne, have you seen the prices of PCs lately? You can get a pretty decent one for $300. That’s just half your tax rebate.

Your online life will be SOOOO much better if you get rid of the dinosaur that can’t even run animations.

#4 Chris Evans
June/3/2008
@ 10:39 am

With the saturation of multimedia players and increasingly sophisticated authoring tools, connected with the ability to create once and publish everywhere to millions of electronic devices, I see animated/ quasi-animated editorial cartoons multiplying over then next few years. Add interactive elements, and to even be able to pull feedback metrics from the viewers, and an interesting sub-genre (or genre of its own) of editorial cartooning will be flourishing. This will be quite interesting to see develop, the full dynamic, but it is starting to happen.

#5 Anne Hambrock
June/3/2008
@ 11:13 am

Dawn, PC’s may be cheap but all my computer needs are MAC based. Until I can pony up for the MAC I want next (instead of my ancient IMAC – or as John calls it “the blue paperweight”) I’ll just have to live without animations. Or go to John’s studio where the good computers are and watch stuff there! LOL

#6 Wiley Miller
June/3/2008
@ 2:25 pm

” It must be a decent amount if one animation can make up for the loss of syndication.”

Syndication of editorial cartoons pays next to nothing. You can make a better living working part time at McDonald’s. This is why it’s so easy for editors to get rid of their staff cartoonists and replace them with a ton of syndicated cartoons.

Ann has made the right move here, and her animated editorials are by far and away better than all the rest of those working for newspapers and doing animation. The reason being, Ann hasn’t forgotten that the operative word is “editorial”. Her animated pieces are quick and to the point, where the others are too long, are geared to simply entertain and have no point.

#7 Malc McGookin
June/3/2008
@ 3:13 pm

I believe we’ve had this discussion on these boards or the Wisen before, but I’m not a fan of animated editorials or even animated gags.

As an animator, I worked for more than one company who thought that the natural progression for newspaper gags or editorials was to animate them – those companies failed very time. The networks don’t want them, and people don’t watch them.

The real trick is to find a point that is ENHANCED by animating it, not merely stick a waving arm or a blink on an existing drawing, or have the character moving into shot to deliver a line.

It takes a while to animate something that’s worth watching, and, because of time constraints, it’s normally a team effort.

I’m a huge fan of Anne Telnaes, she’s pithy and has a superb style. It would certainly lend itself to watchable animation if handled by a professional, however if she’s merely drawing a static image and adding a cut-out element, she may find it deadens her creativity and her enthusiasm for cartooning.

#8 J.G Moore
June/3/2008
@ 3:55 pm

I totally agree with Malc on this. Her work is good but she needs to use more Flash tools to do better and easier lipsync.
She also needs to look into using some rigging in Flash to get better movement.

Doing three animations a week will KILL her. It’s tough to do. I tried doing this with CBS sportsline. I was able to do it for a year but it was no joke. Doing the voices was an issue.

Hiring voice talent is expensive, but WORTH it. I also wanted to have “quality’ work and quality takes time. I also found that the people who ran the site always wanted longer animations. They all want like 2 to 3 minutes. That is a LOOOOT to animate for one person, not to mention that you have to write and storyboard the stuff.

I learned ALOT from doing work with CBS and other companies. Here are samples:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=regCZXBIJ48
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHXQt-76oeE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDjG9XlsHqQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Na1yL8rydE

– Broadband Content –
http://www.informaticsed.org/panflu/

#9 J.G Moore
June/3/2008
@ 4:15 pm

I also think that people need to add interactivity to the mix. THAT is something tv, print and movies can’t do. Point and click games like Hapland are really popular. Cartoonist need to do more interactivity, not just animation. imho

#10 Wiley Miller
June/3/2008
@ 4:40 pm

Before going into editorial cartooning, Ann worked at Disney. She has a pretty good grasp on the concept of animation. Now that she’ll be doing it exclusively, the work will be that much better, as she can spend more time on it. But she’s already doing it right as an editorial piece… sharp, quick and to the point. Adding bells and whistles weakens the work, like all the others are doing.

I forgot to mention before what I really like in the work she’s already done is the use of real audio. This gives it more weight as an editorial cartoon. Doing voices and silly songs just makes it lame and ends up being more like Saturday morning tv fare.

The only other one (in my opinion) who’s doing it right is Mark Fiore. Again, he’s doing it exclusively, not working in print. The problem with the other editorial cartoonists is that they’re doing their print work then trying to adapt it to animation. It doesn’t work and they don’t have the time to do it right. They need to do one or the other.

#11 Malc McGookin
June/3/2008
@ 6:26 pm

“They need to do one or the other.”
Certainly. Especially if they’re going to do animation right.
As J.G. has said, three animations a week (done right) is a big ask.

If Anne manages to ace the market and make a great living doing what she loves, I’ll be ecstatic for her.

The best and most efficient example of “animated” cartoons has been Mike Lester’s old Mike Du Jour stuff where he used animatics to tell a story.

No voices, just have a punchline appear. Very simple and effective. Even in that operation, Mike had an animation partner, or the deadlines would have been impossible.

#12 J.G Moore
June/3/2008
@ 10:00 pm

The one thing that I love about this is the fact that Ann dropped the “dead tree” stuff.
I HATE when cartoonist do both.

That is just crazy. The whole “you gotta do 5 print cartoons AND one or two animations AND have a blog” stuff is in-freakin-sane.

They want you to do 3 jobs!!!! Good for Ann for having the clout to say, “I’m going to do JUST animation. This trend needs to continue.

One BIG reason that very few “get” the whole animation thing right is they (cartoonist) have to get the print stuff done FIRST then scramble to do the animations, not to mention update a silly blog.

In the “scranble” to get the animations done cartoonist copy these same formulas that they see (jib jab, simpsons, silly songs…) and don’t really try to create something that fits as an editorial cartoon.

One key thing that I see in Anne’s and Mark’s work is that they are not using the Flash tools that will make the work easier
and add ” shine” to the work.

Trickorscript.com has some good stuff for flash animation.

#13 Lee Mayer
June/3/2008
@ 10:29 pm

“Cartoonists need to do more interactivity…”

J.G.: Kindly elaborate. What did you mean when you wrote
“do more interactivity”. (Terminology confusion on my part).

#14 J.G Moore
June/4/2008
@ 5:39 am

Explore how interactivity can be injected into the work.

If you use flash or flash video you can use hotspots to allow the “viewser” to choose alternative ending for cartoons.

You can also use web resources and inlude links to newspaper articles, media and blogs.

You can also do your own polling. Have an animated cartoon and include a poll, people love polls.

SOOOOOOOO many things that could be done esp. if Flash is the main tool.

Most of the cartoonist that work in the industry just don’t have the:

A. Skills to pull this stuff off.

B. Publications don’t hire those of us who do have the skills AND

C. the Current group of cartoonist can’t “get off the treadmill” long enough to learn the skills needed to take cartooning to the “next” level.

Interactive “parts” are also reuseable. Once you do it you can apply it over and over and over again. Flash has matured so much that you can buy polls and other components “off the shelf” and not have to develop them from scratch anymore.

Google and play this game:

Hapland

You can do alot with interctivity.

imho

#15 Rob Tornoe
June/4/2008
@ 12:23 pm

Nick Anderson at the Houston Chronicle did a couple of his animations featuring a bit of interactivity. One in particulary I remember allowed you to torture detaniees. I can’t find that one on his blog, but here are some good examples:

http://blogs.chron.com/nickanderson/archives/2007/06/missile_defense.html

And here (It’s funny if you’re a football fan and know anything about David Carr):

http://blogs.chron.com/nickanderson/archives/2006/12/help_david_carr.html

#16 J.G Moore
June/4/2008
@ 4:11 pm

THATS what I’m talking abou. Good stuff.
That David carr -toon was funny. Papers need to realize that Cartoonist need to be doing more cartoons like Nick’s stuff.

#17 Bill Hinds
June/4/2008
@ 7:37 pm

I don’t think interactivity is nearly as important as a decent idea.
I see a lot of animation online where the cartoonist seemed to be so enthralled with the process of animation that he forgot to write something funny.
I did an animated cartoon a week last year. It was a tough schedule. I did all of it, including most of the voices. I’m only doing it once a month now.

Here’s a sample where I tried to make the lip-synch more challenging by making it French lip-synch. It’s not an editorial cartoon, but addresses a controversial subject.

http://www.sikids.com/buzzbeamer/animated/tour.de.buzz.html##

#18 J.G Moore
June/4/2008
@ 9:58 pm

That is so true. Mos def, it all starts with the idea, the writing is key, No way around that. Those Buzz toons are great Bill. I like the French accent. I really like the Steady Freddy cartoon.

Here is a Flash lipsync plugin I use:
http://www.digitalcuriosity.com/Products.htm

Here are two good programs that you can use to pitch shift your voice (make a mans voice a womans voice or one voice into 5 voices):

http://www.surina.net/pacemaker/
http://www.sestek.com.tr/english/E_Commerce.asp?prg=vodi4

#19 Drew Litton
June/4/2008
@ 10:27 pm

I agree with Bill Hinds. It does totally take good writing and ideas. I’ve recently jumped into the pool of animation and know that the first few efforts for me have been a learning process and that the concept is still everything. It’s easy to get enthralled with seeing your cartoons move for the first time and forget the fundamental fact. Make people think and make people laugh. I think the stuff Ann is doing is fantastic. I especially enjoyed her Hillary and the donkey piece. Perfect timing and good animation. Bill is doing great stuff too and I think Nick Anderson’s animations have been terrific. I do think there is room for interactive cartoons and some level of entertainment in all of this. We have to find ways to innovate and bring readers and viewers something new and engaging. And J.G., thanks for the lip sync info. I’m a Mac guy but any ideas about streamlining the process is good. And, by the way, doesn’t Alan Gardner do an amazing job with this site. It’s great to get the latest news about the business and read the comments from everybody.

#20 J.G Moore
June/5/2008
@ 6:10 pm

Great start on your animated content Drew. I can’t wait to see your future cartoons.
Kudos to Alan for creating a great site.

#21 David Reddick
June/6/2008
@ 10:13 am

And here I always thought editorial cartoons WERE interactive. They put a point across. They spark the imagination. Make you think. You interact by agreeing or disagreeing, or seeing a new point of view. And you appreciate the delicate art. It’s said to hear what appears to be the joyous death of the print cartoon. It’s an artform. It doesn’t need all the bell’s and whistles, and jumping from print cartoons to animation isn’t the “next step in cartooning” to me as J.G. says. Animation and drawing a static cartoon are not the same at all, and one isn’t the next step. They’re different artforms, both wonderful. I guess people just don’t have the attention span to think on their own by viewing a cartoon anymore… they need it all delivered up on an animated platter. What a bummer.

#22 Wiley Miller
June/6/2008
@ 11:58 am

Agreeing or disagreeing does not make it interactive. Whether you or not you agree with the cartoon has no effect on the cartoon, thus, not interactive.

interactive |Ë?intÉ?rË?aktiv|
adjective
(of two people or things) influencing or having an effect on each other : fully sighted children in interactive play with others with defective vision.
â?¢ (of a computer or other electronic device) allowing a two-way flow of information between it and a user, responding to the user’s input

#23 David Reddick
June/6/2008
@ 4:15 pm

You get my point. Static cartoons are interactive in the way that reading a book is interactive. You can pause, rewind, fast forward, all with your brain. Imagination. While I love animation, it’s a shame if it replaces a good ol’ fashioned print cartoon that takes 3-10 seconds to make you think on your own, a time-honored artform, being stripped away to accomodate the bells and whistles. That’s all I’m sayin’. It’ s a trend that’s becoming more and more prominent, and this is only the beginning. It will only be a matter of time before you won;t get a good old fashioned Wily comic strip anymore… it’ll HAVE to be suped up with Flash animation, voice and sound, have a small staff of animation people to make it high-quality, to even make it viable in the market, and I think that’s sad.

#24 Chris Evans
June/6/2008
@ 5:32 pm

Static cartoons are not like animated ones. It is apples to oranges. Some people will want static cartoons, others will want animated/ interactive cartoons. The majority of us, will want both — and the people skilled in animation will do theirs, the artists who prefer to work non animation will do their thing. Certain critics have been declaring Print “dead” for years, and the multimedia WWW is the dead certain inevitable all-encompassing future reality. Well, Print has one significant thing over Digital Media — IT DOESN’T NEED BATTERIES. And if I buy something in printed media, it is mine, I can keep it, the publisher won’t magically remove it from my possession when they say I’ve violated an NDA or DRM agreement. With Print, if there are any compatibility issues, I just need to get my glasses. Now, with all this said, interactive digital multimedia is cool, and amazing things will be happening in that corner. But, with that said, frankly, Print is King. Why? In 150 years, I may have a crumbling paper copy of something, but I sure won’t know the archaic file format of that flash animation…even if the file isn’t hopelessly corrupted, or lost. This storage problem may be solved in the next decade — and that could make digital media attractive in the archival sense. But still, at this time, Print is King.

#25 Dawn Douglass
June/6/2008
@ 8:33 pm

“It will only be a matter of time before you won;t get a good old fashioned Wily comic strip anymoreâ?¦ itâ??ll HAVE to be suped up with Flash animation, voice and sound, have a small staff of animation people to make it high-quality, to even make it viable in the market, and I think thatâ??s sad.”

I don’t agree with this any more than I believe we’ll no longer have written stories to read because they’ll all have to be made into movies to have a market.

#26 Wiley Miller
June/7/2008
@ 5:16 am

“You get my point. Static cartoons are interactive in the way that reading a book is interactive.”

No, actually, I don’t get your point. Reading a cartoon or a book is not interactive (please note the definition I provided for you). If the cartoon had no caption and asked the readers to provide one, like they do in the New Yorker, then that would be interactive. Otherwise, it’s a passive process, where you are taking in the information provided by the author. As such, that is not being interactive.

#27 J.G Moore
June/7/2008
@ 10:19 am

“Print is King” this is VERY true, it is limited these days. It’s like the British Royal Family. They are “royal”, i.e. “King” but they are totally irrelevant. They look nice and people care about them but they don’t really do much, just like “print”.

How may news stories during this campaign were Drudge/Kos/Wonkette ripoffs…..like 80%.

Print and TV just look to the web. I can’t count how many stories I see in print and TV that I read on a blog a week before print or TV “broke” the story.

I think that “Print” is the “foundation” but online/interactive/animation is the ONLY way to be “viable”. You have to have both BUT I think that the emphasis (in media in general not just cartooning) now needs to shift to the animation/interactive/online model with print being an “afterthought”.

I mean, the “reason” for using (back in tha day) “Print” was to sell ads. Back then newsprint was a “new” and viable form of media distribution. Craigslist and Google have done “ok” without using newsprint as the distrubution method to sell ads.

Media (as well a cartoonist) need to learn from “The Google”.

THE GOOGLE

You too can use the Internet$
to rule the world and be popular!

All joking aside, editorial cartoons lend well to the whole interactive/animation pipline. Print is great, interactive/animation is better. imho

#28 Malc McGookin
June/8/2008
@ 10:23 am

Interesting link about a paper which is cutting its staff AND the number of papers it will print. It demonstrates that with the advent of the internet, increasing circulation is no longer a goal with newspapers. Maybe Print won’t be King much longer, and its total underestimation of the importance of class comics will be a major reason for its enforced abdication.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/06/business/media/06tribune.html?_r=3&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&ref=business&adxnnlx=1212924769-OE/wQF+iaQr9HSgWXf+fuw

#29 Nick Anderson
June/8/2008
@ 11:53 am

Rob, here’s the torture cartoon you referenced:
http://blogs.chron.com/nickanderson/archives/2008/04/torture_time.html

I’ll take some exception to Wiley’s argument that Ann is the only newspaper cartoonist who is doing *editorial* animations. I’ve had my share of silly indulgences, and have added too many bells and whistles at times(especially on the early ones), but I’ve also had my share of successes.

My goal for animation was to try a lot of approaches to avoid falling into a rote formula. When you’re getting into something new, there’s a steep learning curve. It’s safer to replicate a formula that’s working for someone else, or replicate one of your own early successes, but you’re not going to learn much.

I do agree that it’s tough to do both animations and daily cartoons well. I don’t do the actual animation, but I’ve found that being a producer/director can require a lot of focus. It can be a challenge to balance the daily demands of the print cartoons with the ongoing demands of keeping an animation on schedule, not to mention maintaning a blog.

#30 Garey Mckee
June/8/2008
@ 1:58 pm

Shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that modern communication technology has spawned a new option for cartoonists, rather than endlessly debating it’s practicality, execution and methodology? It’s one more choice for cartoonists that didn’t exist before. I say more power to all those who decide to pursue it. Pioneer it and make that art form your own.

#31 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
June/9/2008
@ 12:50 am

Hey, while we are at it; why don’t we animate “Guernica”, or “Mona Lisa”, or “Christina’s World”, or “Saturday, In the Park”?

Animation has its forms and cultural place. Disney pioneered. Others added.
Perfection? Debatable.

There is no replacing the cognitive dynamic of introspection. That exists with still representation, and is lost with the distraction of movement.
It is the same process of being able to ponder a passage in a book, or being caught in a stream of fleeting thoughts….whatever the medium.
Do not misunderstand me. Animation will be part of the continuing fabric of cartooning artistry.
The still image will always be predominant. It is the native.

#32 J.G Moore
June/9/2008
@ 6:36 am

Joe, You jest but if you animated Guernica or the mona lisa “the right way” and put it on YouTube you would have a hit and people would be beating a path to your door.

Most of the “great” artist (if alive now) would be animating. What would Dali have done with Flash or Maya? Those cats would have been doing animatio bigtime. Dali did do stuff wth Disney.

It starts with the still image, but these days you have to get those images moving to be viable in this new media world.

You don’t have to do “balls out” animation. Brad Neely does alot with still images and posing in his “Professor Brothers” and “Baby Cakes” animations.

Checkout www. superdeluxe.com to see his work.

#33 David Reddick
June/9/2008
@ 8:30 am

J.G. said(you have great insights, btw, and love your work):
“It starts with the still image, but these days you have to get those images moving to be viable in this new media world. ”

That’s exactly what I was saying. I guess all I was voicing was that I love the static, personal quality of comics drawn by one cartoonist in its wonderful form as is. I just hope it doesn’t disappear and have to have movement added to it all, because as cool as that can be in some instances, it just loses something if it’s done across the board and required. But I also love animation, and I agree with Garey’s comment… you’re right, if nothing else, we should celebrate that ultimately, there have never been more opportunities for cartoonists than now – it’s all a good thing!

#34 Mike Lester
June/9/2008
@ 11:09 am

J.G. Moore:
I enjoy your boy scout enthusiasm and your comments are well intentioned for this crowd but when you recommend scatological content like Neely’s superdeluxe.com, your cred suffers. I’m showing my age but give me a house falling on Buster Keaton anyday.

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