Who’s going this year? Discuss.
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190 thoughts on “Open thread: Who’s going to this year’s Reubens?”
BTW, I will be in the Phoenix area on Memorial Day weekend for a wedding so I won’t make it to the NCS Reuben Awards weekend.
I’ll be there, rooming with the man, the myth, the one and only John Kovaleski!
I’d like to do both the NCS and the AAEC conventions, but with the economy being what it is, it’s one of the other. This year I’ll be at the AAEC bash in Seattle.
I’m going, with my son Dean. He’ll be a first-timer for the Reubens Awards dinner this year. I just bought him his first tux!
“Iâ??m going, with my son Dean. Heâ??ll be a first-timer for the Reubens Awards dinner this year. I just bought him his first tux!”
Oh, now you’re bringing back up…
How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?
This will be a memorable Reubens for your son, Mark, as he gets to see his dad win the comic strip division award.
>>>How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?
There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.
Or he can watch as my eyes well up with tears as Stephan accepts his third division award or Richard (my guess)has somebody come up and accept on his behalf. He’ll no doubt feel sorry for me, which is an excellent time for me to get him to promise to do household chores, so either way I win.
And the Scott Kurtz Award goes to Rick Stromoski! The crowd wildly jumps to it’s feet…
You don’t understand, Mark. I didn’t say I wanted you to win or that you deserve to win, I said you’re GOING to win.
I can see the future, my friend. Which reminds me… don’t check your zipper before you go up to accept the award.
Now if you’ll excuse, I think I’ll go hide for while now that Rick has opened up the web version of Pandora’s box again…
Best of luck for all who are going.
I have to agree with Wiley, Mark this is your year. Lio has been constantly THE funniest strip in publication today. Bar none. I don’t mean to offend anyone else, but facts are facts. I am a small town eidtorial cartoonist, so I know what it is like putting yourtself out there daily.
I’ll be there.
“How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?”
How long until a TV show is nominated for an Oscar? How long before a rap album is nominated for a Tony? What did Missus sip? What did Della wear?
“How long until a TV show is nominated for an Oscar? How long before a rap album is nominated for a Tony? What did Missus sip? What did Della wear?”
Is that really fair? They give awards for animation, television, and movies.
I think Carl makes a good point.
Exactly – if there are awards for print, TV and film, not including the internet seems a bit strange.
I agree….ahemm ahem….coff ..coff……….coff…
hee hee hee
I’m sure it will be discussed at some point during the weekend…donchya’ think?
This is your early warning web cartoon tsunami warning… gather your sanity and run to high ground, as drowning in a sudden rush of hyperbolic rancor is likely… Repeat… this is an early warning… Alan, man the helm and get finger ready to hit the delete button!
â??How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?â?
How long until a TV show is nominated for an Oscar? How long before a rap album is nominated for a Tony? What did Missus sip? What did Della wear?
YEAH- that would be like a comic strip winning a Pulitzer for editorial cartooning….. Oh yeah, that’s already happened……. more than once.
I learned that people who run a particular award can give out their award to anybody they want for whatever reason they deem fitting.
It’s their award, period.
â??How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?â?
â??How long until you think an online-only comic strip will WIN a Reuben?â?
….and we’ll all be very proud that day when Scott Kurtz is the one presenting the award (sniff) so only one year to go fellas. Either start counting down or head for the hills.
Since it’s in my backyard, I sure hope I can find a way to make it to the Reubens, but it’s a bit tough financially.
â??How long until a TV show is nominated for an Oscar? How long before a rap album is nominated for a Tony? What did Missus sip? What did Della wear?â?
Is that really fair? They give awards for animation, television, and movies.
Whoops — my bad. Right you are.
I tend to forget about those categories because I think they’re a bit off topic. But, yes, if they’re going to create categories like that, there’s no reason not to include web awards as well.
1. As Milt says, they can award whatever they want.
2. The Oscars could have included TV and chose not to, so TV created the Emmy. Sometimes that’s the solution to these little turf issues.
Although webcomics are often referred to as not being proper comics because of the size of their readership, quite a few,even the medium-sized ones have bigger readerships than the average graphic novel. If you don’t want webcomics included in the Reubens comic strip category , fair enough, but it deserves it’s own category, surely?
OH MY GOD. Stop. STOP STOP STOP!
Webcomics, comics, cartoons, comic books. Who the f**k gives a flyin’ leap?!
You people are insane.
We draw, we write jokes and then we present it for folks to partake and hopefully, laugh. Maybe… Just maybe, the lucky ones get to make a buck or two.
That’s it. end of story.
Jesus effin Christmas in Connenticut.
Leave the Reubens the way they are: They’re universally understood as awards for newspaper cartooning. They should stay that way.
…and yes, I know there are other categories. But you get my point: Adding webcomics to the pot would only dilute the original point of the awards…excellence in print cartooning.
There’s nothing wrong with the awards staying true to their mission.
I hope to go next year. My oldest son is getting married the following weekend … but what a great line-up. It should be a blast! Hope to hear lots about it.
“We draw, we write jokes and then we present it for folks to partake and hopefully, laugh. Maybeâ?¦ Just maybe, the lucky ones get to make a buck or two.”
The only awards that have any real impact are the ones inscribed with the words “Pay to the order of … “
>>Jesus effin Christmas in Connenticut.
I saw that…Barbara Stanwyck was brilliant.
Do you have a link to Barbara Stanwyck’s web comic?
â??We draw, we write jokes and then we present it for folks to partake and hopefully, laugh. Maybeâ?¦ Just maybe, the lucky ones get to make a buck or two.â?
But that’s not much of a business model.
I’m not going ‘cuz it’s too far and I’m too poor. How come it’s never held in the Northeast anymore?
And why shouldn’t webcomics be a category? There are rewards for animation, and last I checked, that wasn’t a print category either. And as for webcomics being nothing but vehicles to sell tshirts…weren’t newspaper comics traditionally just shills to get people to read ads for department stores? Until all the advertising went online…
“werenâ??t newspaper comics traditionally just shills to get people to read ads for department stores? Until all the advertising went onlineâ?¦”
No. Not a very good grasp of comics or newspapers there. But thanks for playing.
I was typing “I think it should have its own category right now because…” and I was about to list the people making a living at it. That’s when this occurred to me:
“Best webcomic” will be a category when there’s more than just a handful of people – a vanguard – that’s making a full-time living at it. Everyone always points to the same five or six success stories, as I was about to do. When you can present a list of 100 or 200 or so success stories (just pulling those numbers out of my *ss, but you get the point – some number comparable to those of the other categories), it’ll be a full-fledged industry and it’ll have its own Reubens category.
Since this is the first Reuben award I’ve been invited to as an NCS member, I’d really like to make it, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be possible.
Also, as a person who makes a webcomic (and gets paid to do so) I’d like to see them included, or at least have a webcomics category.
I’ll be attending the Reubens this year for the first time.
“There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.”
What does selling T-shirts, mugs, greeting cards, etc. got to do with quality of the strip, Rick? Besides, there are webcomics that don’t sell anything, aren’t there? I don’t mean to say Reuben has to create best webcomics award, I’m just saying there’s no need to diminish someone’s work only because he is not in newspapers (again, nothing to do with quality).
Norm, I’m really glad to hear you’ll be there! We’ll finally get to meet in person. Unless, of course, you spot me first…
I look forward to it!
I think there should be a category for webcomics.
Or just include them in the other categories.
As far as I’m concerned best strip is best strip, and best panel is best panel. Who cares where it’s found?
Where would be the cutoff point on just who is eligible, Guy?
As Cory said, “We draw, we write jokes and then we present it for folks to partake and hopefully, laugh. Maybeâ?¦ Just maybe, the lucky ones get to make a buck or two.”
Distinctions on format and genre I can understand, but categorizing awards based on distribution mechanisms is just silly. Unless the award is for “Most Successful Business Plan” or “Shrewdest Career Management.”
If those eligible to nominate and vote on Reubens see fit to include properties not found in newsprint, terrific! May the finest set of panels take the prizes.
wiley: “Where would be the cutoff point on just who is eligible, Guy?”
I think anyone ought to be eligible. If you’re worried that there would be too many submissions, then make it so a feature has to be nominated by a member before it is considered.
I also think membership should be opened up to include some web cartoonists as well, so they can nominate the features they know best.
Right now the membership process is kind of an antiquated joke.
Generally, I think for the awards to ever generate any interest beyond our dwindling circle, they need a big overhaul.
I apologize in advance for saying this, but when Dennis the Menace wins best Panel, the awards lose any shred of integrity they may have had. And if there’s no integrity to the process, then no one outside of the industry will care who wins.
When a film gets nominated for best picture everyone goes to see it because they can generally trust that it’s going to be a good film. With the process in place right now, I’m not sure the same can be said for the Reubens, notwithstanding the fact that they did a good job with newspaper strips this year.
I don’t see why mode of distribution matters. I don’t see why there needs to be a “webcomic” category.
I’d like to see a future where Lio, and Pearl Before Swine, AND Sheldon all compete for the same award.
I agree with Guy, here. I think it’s time to acknowledge excellence in webcomics cartooning. And web-animation. There’s really been some excellent work out there since the category was discontinued. And you can call them t-shirt salesmen, but the fact is that model is what affords them the ability to make some money doing what they love, just like us print guys. And I’m sure that a lot of these guys are making better than 50% of their income from cartooning, no matter what that number may be, one of the criteria for allowing induction to the NCS. And I’m almost certain that some of them make much more than some well thought of NCS members that appear every year at the Reubens. I only bring up the money issue because it figures into qualifying for membership. Isn’t at least time to consider webcomics cartoonists and bring it to a vote?
I think also by keeping them out, we are depriving ourselves of younger voices with some pretty good ideas. I would hate to paint them all will the S.K.-brush.
“…no matter what that number may be…” loses me. Right now, there are a handful of successes. I really don’t think that’s enough to warrant a distinct category. I’d rather see “best newspaper comic strip” become “best comic strip” and open it up to include both print and online comics (if the online comics could somehow demonstrate that they’re more than just vanity-published, just as the print comics already have to do). Same with animation and online animation.
And I agree, I’d like to see webcomic creators who make a living at it invited to join the NCS. In my book, they’re clearly professionals.
I just don’t think there’s enough of them (or enough of an artistic difference between them and print cartoons) to constitute a separate industry or to call for a distinct category.
I think there is a distinct difference between newspaper comics strips and webcomics: Webcomics can use adult content and newspapers cannot. Webcomics can be any size, shape, or length. Everyday can be like a Sunday strip, with the length of a comic book…or they can produce one strip a month with the quality of a well thought out painting. Clearly webcomics exist without any of the constrants or rules a newspaper comic must follow, making them a separate animal altogether…just like panel comics, while still a newspaper comic, are definitely their own thing.
“Right now, there are a handful of successes.” And why should the webcomic category only be open to so-called successes?
If your comic strip RUDY PARK were only in 5 newspapers, would that mean it wasn’t qualified to compete against FRED BASSET? Excellence is excellence, and I don’t see how income should determine a webcomic’s value or validity. And again, a lot of current NCS members got in just because they said they made “x” amount of their yearly income in cartoons and comics, and I doubt anybody has been asked to produce their tax returns as proof. And I’m pretty sure no NCS members complain about them being less-qualified.
>>. I donâ??t see how income should determine a webcomicâ??s value or validity.
The difference being one between a hobbiest versus a professional. The Reuben awards are professional awards.
One can be a very talented community theater player but you’ll never be eligible to win a Tony award.
That’s also why NCS membership is tied to your professional status. Most web comic creators by their own admission make zero income from their efforts. They’re essentially hobbyists. This doesn’t mean that those who do make a living as a cartoonist on the web cannot join the NCS and are encouraged to do so.
I’m really good at the board game Operation but it doesn’t qualify me to join the AMA.
>>>I apologize in advance for saying this, but when Dennis the Menace wins best Panel, the awards lose any shred of integrity they may have had.
Remind me to introduce you to Marcus Hamilton in Hollywood so you can express your concerns to him directly.
What are webcomics anyway? Aren’t they just cartoons that don’t appear in print?
So a cartoonist who loses his or her last print client becomes a webcartoonist?
Not being my usual snotty self…I seriously wonder if webcomics is a term with any meaning whatsoever.
When they give this years Pulitzer to one of the ninety (+-) editorial cartoonists who’s been laid off, does he give it back?
Happy Eater, guys. I’m off to church. And not the First Church of Thor.
If you will note the title of the awards for each category, perhaps that will give you a clue why web comics aren’t eligible. If web comics were to be recognized by the NCS, it would need to be with the understanding of just what a PROFESSIONAL web comic is, as Ted alluded to.
So here, go to the NCS website and actually READ the award categories, then please tell me why web comics should be included in any of them.
If the argument to create a new category is sound, then by all means, make that sound, reasoned argument to the board. I’d like to see it, but it needs to be defined. Just as handing out copies of your cartoons on a street corner doesn’t make you a published, professional cartoonist, nor does just posting your cartoons on your own website make you one. You do have to consider the logistics of deciding these awards, you know.
“What are webcomics anyway? Arenâ??t they just cartoons that donâ??t appear in print?”
Exactly! And provided you’re actually drawing (i.e., not cut-and-pasting), you’re a cartoonist — nothing more, nothing less.
Wiley’s absolutely right. Those categories, as currently defined, leave no room for webcartooning or webcomics outside of the “editorial cartoons” category. The categories would have to be redefined, or new categories created.
The NCS website also says this:
The Primary Purposes Of The NCS:
– To advance the ideals and standards of professional cartooning in its many forms.
– To promote and foster a social, cultural and intellectual interchange among professional cartoonists of all types.
– To stimulate and encourage interest in and acceptance of the art of cartooning by aspiring cartoonists, students and the general public.
That the NCS apparently has no mechanism in place to recognize excellence in comics that do not appear in print, nor even to concede that such excellence is possible, suggests to me that the NCS ought to discuss whether those primary purposes can be a little better fulfilled in the future.
>>And provided youâ??re actually drawing (i.e., not cut-and-pasting), youâ??re a cartoonist â?? nothing more, nothing less.
Simply having the ability to draw a cartoon doesn’t mean you’re a cartoonist, at least not in the professional sense.
>>>That the NCS apparently has no mechanism in place to recognize excellence in comics that do not appear in print, nor even to concede that such excellence is possible, suggests to me that the NCS ought to discuss whether those primary purposes can be a little better fulfilled in the future.
If you self publish a novel, however a wonderful read it would be, you’re most likely never going to win a Pulitzer or a Booker Prize, Caldecott Medal , National Book Award , National Book Critics Circle Award , Newbery Medal , or a Nobel Prize for Literature. None of these awards creates special categories for self publishers or vanity press authors.
It’s a preposterous notion.
LOL. Oh the hate towards webcomics on this thread is palpable! Can’t we all just get along?
“Simply having the ability to draw a cartoon doesnâ??t mean youâ??re a cartoonist, at least not in the professional sense.”
No argument there, Rick.
I’m officially changing the title of my profession from “cartoonist” to “comedic drawologist”.
That way, when people ask me what I do, I’ll totally disassociate myself from the embarrassing content of these petty and ludicrous arguments.
The majority of you should be ashamed of yourselves for your behavior over the last couple years.
I was going to join the NCS, but I don’t think I can get on board with the back slapping, self-aggrandizing behavior of a group who’s majority refuses to recognize talent unless they bow to the power of print… And tee times.
I tried to befriend the webcartoonist ring of whiners, but the continued arrogance and adolescent finger pointing by the so-called “leaders” of the industry makes me want to vomit.
I’ll be first to admit I’m far from perfect in this whole house of ill-conceived arguments and I know each group has some really good eggs, but I also know what makes me want to scratch my eyes out and go back to bartending.
Maybe I’ll start my own group and call it “The Society of folks who want to draw and shut up about it”.
Sounds refreshing just typing it.
“The categories would have to be redefined, or new categories created.”
There’s nothing wrong with the categories that exist and do not need redefining. The height of arrogance is expecting the universe to change to suit your needs.
They can add a category for web cartoons, which I believe they tried a few years ago. I understand it was a dismal failure. But times change and perhaps it should be considered again, but with strict parameters that fits into the overall structure of the NCS being a professional organization.
“Maybe Iâ??ll start my own group and call it â??The Society of folks who want to draw and shut up about itâ?.”
Um… Corey? Shouldn’t that read, “…who want to drink and draw…” ?
I’ve been reading The Daily Cartoonist (which, by the way, is in my opinion a great site) for quite some time and it seems to me that tension between professional cartoonists and web cartoonists is as strong sometimes as between politicians. Can anybody explain this phenomenon to me, without emotions? I’m just an innocent bystander from faraway country so I might be missing the context.
I’m sorry Alan, I know my question has nothing to do with the topic of this thread, but this seems the right moment to ask (wink).
I really don’t intend to throw more oil into the flames, I only want to understand the roots of the conflict. Therefore I urge anyone answering to be civilised.
People go to a webcomic website because they enjoy the comic and want to see the day’s update. How many people buy a newspaper because they want to read the cartoons?
I’d rather draw for a few hundred people who actively enjoy my cartoons than a few million people who couldn’t care less.
” and it seems to me that tension between professional cartoonists and web cartoonists”
The “tension” is entirely one-sided. There is none from the professional ranks. This subject comes up every year when the Reuben nominations are made, and every year we try to explain why web cartoons aren’t eligible. That’s when the rage begins.
What I don’t understand is, why do they care? Aren’t there web awards? If you post stuff on YouTube, are you going to demand you be considered for an Oscar or an Emmy? Just stick with the medium you’re working in and be happy with it.
>>>How long until you think an online-only comic strip will be nominated for a Reuben?
>There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.
Rick, you don’t do our profession proud with stuff like this.
“Arenâ??t there web awards? If you post stuff on YouTube, are you going to demand you be considered for an Oscar or an Emmy? Just stick with the medium youâ??re working in and be happy with it”
That’s not at all the same thing. Webcomics are identical to print comics in every respect except the medium. If Danny Boyle put out a full length movie on YouTube with Hollywood effects, budgeting and stars, wouldn’t he have every right to push for Oscar recognition?
Oh Wiley, I beg to differ. How can “tension” be one-sided(you have to have someone pulling the other end of the rubber band ;)) You can tell there is a sense of fear and vitriol from both sides. Each side striving for some respect from the other, after all, aren’t all cartoonists insecure about their craft ;).
Lupenicky , I agree that it kind of reminds me of the ongoing war between the far left and far right of the political divide (senseless, in the minority, nevertheless dominating the topics of discussion in main stream media). I am sure majority of cartoonists would love to see cartoonists of all media succeed. It just so happens that we have the minority of the highfalutin print vs web debate protagonists dominating the conversation.
Hehe. Alan you were warned! The mere mention of NCS or Reuban’s Award stirs up a hornets nest!
>>>I apologize in advance for saying this, but when Dennis the Menace wins best Panel, the awards lose any shred of integrity they may have had.
Rick Stromoski said:
“Remind me to introduce you to Marcus Hamilton in Hollywood so you can express your concerns to him directly.”
I’m happy to meet him. I bet he’s a lovely guy.
I’m just making a point about the integrity of the process, but I understand you disagree with my point.
So is it fair to say that you believe Dennis the Menace was the best panel in 2005?
I’m a print cartoonist. I’ve been honored to win three NCS division awards. I’m looking at them right now. I’d happily sell them just to stop the economic bleeding taking place in print today.
Whoever said the only award worth winning started with, “Pay to the Order of….”, was right.
CLARIFICATION: Iâ??d happily sell them just to stop MY economic bleeding.
“You can tell there is a sense of fear and vitriol from both sides.”
No, there isn’t. One side fantasizes about the other trembling in fear, but the fact is, they never cross our mind until threads like this start… and always being started from that one side.
“Webcomics are identical to print comics in every respect except the medium.”
No, they’re not. The internet is a completely different medium than newspapers, just like cartoons you’d do for magazines are different from fare done for newspapers.
And the point is, why are webcomics done in the same format as newspaper comics? This lack of creativity and imagination is simply stunning.
Mark said: “I think there is a distinct difference between newspaper comics strips and webcomics: Webcomics can use adult content and newspapers cannot.”
I disagree. I’ve read adult content in the alt weeklies, and as far as I know those comics are elligible to compete in the comic strip division.
Mark said: “Webcomics can be any size, shape, or length. Everyday can be like a Sunday strip, with the length of a comic bookâ?¦or they can produce one strip a month with the quality of a well thought out painting.”
…But they’re generally NOT done that way. Almost every single webcomic I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot) is a four-panel strip that’s not at all different artistically than what we see in newspapers. It’s an unrealized potential you’re talking about.
Mark said: “Clearly webcomics exist without any of the constrants or rules a newspaper comic must follow, making them a separate animal altogetherâ?¦just like panel comics, while still a newspaper comic, are definitely their own thing.”
Until I see online comics doing what you’ve mentioned is possible for them to do, I can’t agree that they’re a separate animal.
Mark said: â??Right now, there are a handful of successes.â? And why should the webcomic category only be open to so-called successes?
If your comic strip RUDY PARK were only in 5 newspapers, would that mean it wasnâ??t qualified to compete against FRED BASSET? Excellence is excellence, and I donâ??t see how income should determine a webcomicâ??s value or validity.”
Maybe I’m misinformed, but aren’t the awards given to professionals, not amateurs? You and I might have different definitions of success. The way I see it, if you’re earning a profit on your cartoons (from either a publisher or from Cafe Press or Google Ads) you’re a professional cartoonist. If you’re earning a living, even a meager one, you’re a success story. If you’re not profiting, then you’re an amateur. I don’t understand how you’re trying to pin this elitist argument on me when all I said was you need success stories to constitute an industry and a distinct category, not that you need to be a success story in order to be eligible to compete in existing categories. My argument’s the opposite of elitism. I’d rather open up what already exists instead of ghettoizing the professional online cartoonists.
Mark said: “And again, a lot of current NCS members got in just because they said they made â??xâ? amount of their yearly income in cartoons and comics, and I doubt anybody has been asked to produce their tax returns as proof. And Iâ??m pretty sure no NCS members complain about them being less-qualified.”
You’re confusing different lines of argument, or I didn’t make myself clear. I was talking about the awards, not NCS membership, when I mentioned proof. Cartoonists have to prove the strips they’re submitting to the Reubens were published if they’re not syndicated. If you or I were to go down to FedEx and print 1000 copies of our cartoons, we couldn’t call that publishing. Online comics should have to meet some similar criteria to show that they weren’t just tossed up on a website nobody visits in order to claim they were published. Maybe a screen-cap of their stats showing that they don’t have zero visits per day would suffice.
I think Wiley is a bit biased in his view of the webcomic v. print relationship.
A good 80% of the tension is personality driven. If those individuals (on both sides) could filter their comments, we could have a pretty decent conversation.
“And the point is, why are webcomics done in the same format as newspaper comics? This lack of creativity and imagination is simply stunning.”
This is why they hate you, Wiley.
>>â??You can tell there is a sense of fear and vitriol from both sides.â?
>No, there isnâ??t. One side fantasizes about the other trembling in fear, but the fact is, they never cross our mind until threads like this startâ?¦ and always being started from that one side.
>>â??Webcomics are identical to print comics in every respect except the medium.â?
>No, theyâ??re not. The internet is a completely different medium than newspapers, just like cartoons youâ??d do for magazines are different from fare done for newspapers.
Wiley, I really wish you would avoid using terms like “we” and “our” when expressing your personal views. Last I checked I was a print cartoonist and NCS member, and I read webcomics as often as newspaper ones these days and believe they have more similarities with print comics than differences. I’ll even add a smiley so you know I make this comment not out of bitterness but friendly concern. 🙂
I normally never post on these sorts of forums, but I’m starting to get really saddened by the dismissive comments thrown in both directions re web/print. I have friends on both sides and am convinced that if egos and pride could be reined in a bit (on both sides), some obvious common ground might actually emerge and respectful discussion occur.
I’ll reconsider part of my last post. I’d be glad to see a professional webcomic category, but if I were on the jury I’d only vote for the ones that I thought made some use of the medium that distinguished it from print. Otherwise, I don’t see the point of a separate category.
Bill, I do hope you post more often, as there’s more respect for you on these and other boards than you probably realize!
And Darrin: I agree with you wholeheartedly in your point separating style from medium.
“Webcomics”, as a term, will only last as long as their distinguishing feature is that they are *not* the ones found in print. It’s similar to the term “horseless carriage”. Eventually, when there are less and less horses on the road, the “horseless” gets dropped to become “carriage,” and eventually “car”. The same will be true for “webcomics”. The “web” will eventually get dropped as a useless addition to an already-understood idea as the medium(s) transition. Strips will remain strips, one-panels will remain one-panels, editorials will remain editorials, and the “web” part of it will fade in use.
That’s one of the reasons I’d hate to see the Reubens add a webcomics category:”Webcomics” is really a distinguishing term only for the moment, and not long for this earth.
And look: *There’s no huge clamor among professional webcomics folks for the Reubens to be expanded.* It’s an award given of, to and for newspaper cartoonists. When the NCS changes membership, in time, the awards will change with it…but for now, leave it be.
“Wiley, I really wish you would avoid using terms like â??weâ? and â??ourâ? when expressing your personal views.”
I usually do, Bill. In this instance, the supposition was made as a collective, so I tried to correct it in the same manner.
But I would like to make it clear exactly what I think regarding this matter, repeating what I’ve said here and elsewhere many times before… as a professional cartoonist, I dearly want the internet to develop as a viable market for cartoonists to make a living in the same manner we’ve had in the various print mediums. Along with that, I agree that web cartoons should be recognized in a new category for the Reuben Awards. I also think that the animation awards should be dumped. Web cartoons make more sense for awards than animation does for the Reubens… in MY opinion.
The problem, as it stands today, is that there isn’t a market on the internet akin to that of print, and this reflects the limited pool of possible nominees who would be eligible under the NCS rules. This does NOT mean I don’t think there are talented cartoonists working on the web. On the contrary, I’ve seen a lot truly marvelous stuff. I would love to move over to exclusively do my work on the web and explore all the creative possibilities it affords. I just wish I could figure out how to do it… in the same manner I work now.
Is that clear enough?
Even in print it’s always been difficult to determine what constitutes the fine line that separates amateur from professional. I was published in eight local newspapers in SW Ohio when I was 16 but didn’t consider myself professional until I became syndicated and placed in daily papers.
On the other hand there are former staff editorial cartoonists who now appear online only. Clearly the quality of their work and their work history makes them pros, and everyone considers them to be so.
When it comes to non-print cartoons, it’s even harder to draw the line. First comes income: There is literally no evidence whatsoever, beyond a few webcartoonists’ personal anecdotesâ??anecdotes that don’t sound credibleâ??that any webcartoonist has been able to extract a full-time living from non-print cartoons and sales of merchandise related thereto. (I found Scott Kurtz’s accidental revelation that he receives a W-2 revealing and informative.)
On the other hand, any number of non-print cartoons clearly qualify as professional from an artistic standpoint: Diesel Sweeties, Boy on a Stick and Slither, Cat and Girl, etc. If I were running NCS, I’d want their creators to join, income requirements be damned.
As I write this, I wonder if drawing a substantial income from cartooning ought to be a requirement for NCS membership. After all, some of the webcomics that supposedly make the most money feature substantially poorer writing and artwork–some of the (supposedly) biggest strips are virtually unreadable–than many that are labors of love.
Professionalism is in the eye of the beholder. But who’s beholding?
>>>>There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.
>>>Rick, you donâ??t do our profession proud with stuff like this.
My intent with that post was purely ironic since I’ve stated numerous times on numerous threads that a cartoonist who makes his living on the web is as valid a professional as one who does so in print. I apologize for the clumsiness.
Last week I reached out to start a conversation about this very thing, even suggesting an invitation to web cartoonists to join participate in the Reuben weekend with seminars and was literally told to F#$k off. I still would like to see that happen since I believe that the future of cartooning is web based.
I get a W2. I get it from “The Tayler Corporation,” which is how my wife and I have arranged the books for tax purposes. I suspect others are doing the same thing.
How does the NCS determine whether someone has met the income requirement? Do you take their word for it, or does somebody perform an audit? No, seriously… how?
I heard about that. It saddened me. I really wish the horrible things some of us have said could be put behind us so we can move forward as cartoonists. This next decade looks to be a tough one for everybody.
“I really wish the horrible things some of us have said could be put behind us so we can move forward as cartoonists.”
Agreed, and I think that applies to both sides of the fence.
It does, Wiley. It does.
With respect to NCS income requirements, I must admit that this is the ONLY reason why I’ve yet to apply for membership.
I’ve always had tremendous respect for past and current NCS members, and it would be a lifelong dream come true to attend a Reuben Weekend and meet so many of my heroes.
But the honest truth is that I’d feel completely embarassed if my annual income was the reason for me not being accepted. This is why syndication has always remained my primary goal. I’ve always felt that once I reach THAT level, then I’d be a real professional cartoonist.
I only write this here now because perhaps there are others who feel the same way.
To clarify a foreseeable misunderstanding … I completely agree with considering a potential member’s annual income as one measure of their professionalism.
If a person does earn the majority of their income from cartooning, how much do they need to be make per year in order to be considered? $20K? $30? $40?
Again, this is not just for myself to know, but hopefully help others understand what level they should be aiming for IF they desire to do so.
“There is literally no evidence whatsoever, beyond a few webcartoonistsâ?? personal anecdotesâ??anecdotes that donâ??t sound credibleâ??that any webcartoonist has been able to extract a full-time living from non-print cartoons and sales of merchandise related thereto.”
Perry Bible Fellowship sold a billion and a half books.
I am sure there are dozens of webcartoonists who make their living at it. Why would they lie? Do you really think they have a secret day job?
Wow. Well I certainly have been pretty good at not getting sucked into the web/print black hole. Alas, here it goes.
Reading all this I have to wonder if web cartoonists who may state that they want to be able to be considered for NCS membership want to do so only because they want the chance to win an award. This is, of course, the absolute wrong reason for anyone to want to join an organization. However, that misplaced motivation is evident in anyone who states that there should be a webcomic division in the Reubens.
I don’t think winning an award is the primary motivation for webcomickers or any member – it’s about being apart of a fraternity of like minded and interested individuals. Wanting a category isn’t misplaced motivation – it’s creating a space where excellence in cartooning can be recognized.
A syndicated cartoonist could have a very low number of client papers such that it requires him/her to have a day job to earn a living and yet they could be considered a candidate for the NCS, but a webcomicker could make a near 6-figure salary and be denied. I think there is some injustice in this requirement, but honestly I don’t know how to resolve it.
>>â??There is literally no evidence whatsoever, beyond a few webcartoonistsâ?? personal anecdotesâ??anecdotes that donâ??t sound credibleâ??that any webcartoonist has been able to extract a full-time living from non-print cartoons and sales of merchandise related thereto.â?
Seriously? Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik are doing pretty well for themselves. Tim Buckley is making a go of things, as are Randall Munroe and Rich Burlew.
>>”â?¦But theyâ??re generally NOT done that way. Almost every single webcomic Iâ??ve seen (and Iâ??ve seen a lot) is a four-panel strip thatâ??s not at all different artistically than what we see in newspapers. Itâ??s an unrealized potential youâ??re talking about.”
Order of the Stick, Erfworld, Penny Arcade on a technicality (three-panel; they sometimes even deviate from this format; see their most recent strips, “The Seventh Spring” http://tinyurl.com/cvj335), VGCats, MegaTokyo, 8-Bit Theatre, XKCD and others. These are not obscurities. Believe me, the potential is being very much realized.
>>”No, theyâ??re not. The internet is a completely different medium than newspapers, just like cartoons youâ??d do for magazines are different from fare done for newspapers.”
As I said, the only difference IS the medium. The point I’m trying to make is that a comic is a comic, whether online or in print and the Reuben’s should recognize that and either add a webcomic category or agree to include them altogether.
>>”However, that misplaced motivation is evident in anyone who states that there should be a webcomic division in the Reubens.”
Anyone? I don’t draw a webcomic, I just enjoy reading them and their print companions. What’s my “misplaced motivation?”
Wow! A billion and a half books?
With those numbers, I must have bought a couple myself.
The Reuben Weekend? I’m going, and bringing my whole family.
And a salad recipe.
Wiley said “And the point is, why are webcomics done in the same format as newspaper comics? This lack of creativity and imagination is simply stunning.”
Well Wiley, why are syndicated comics done in the same format as webcomics? This lack of creativity and imagination is simply stunning.
Being sarcastic there. As a cartoonist you should know the power of brevity in both words and pictures and therefore , for the gag strips anyway, have no reason to question the size and format of webcomics.
“A syndicated cartoonist could have a very low number of client papers such that it requires him/her to have a day job to earn a living and yet they could be considered a candidate for the NCS, but a webcomicker could make a near 6-figure salary and be denied. I think there is some injustice in this requirement, but honestly I donâ??t know how to resolve it.”
It’s even more inane than that, Alan.
I just finally got into the NCS after five years, and one of the technicalities that kept me out was that I’ve been lucky enough to have a good career outside of comics.
So because I didn’t earn a majority of my income from comics, I wasn’t eligible, despite the fact that I earned more money from my comic than many members.
Wiley, trying to help you here…
“I would love to move over to exclusively do my work on the web and explore all the creative possibilities it affords. I just wish I could figure out how to do itâ?¦ in the same manner I work now.”
Right, I don’t know your exact number of papers you are in but this is all based on a figure of five hundred papers so you can adjust it to your own needs.
Studying most of the webcomics who report income and those who have taken their features to an fro from syndication to web and/or back again you roughly get 1000 web readers equivalent to one average sized newspaper.With ads on your site, your own merchandise and book sales and original art sales all done by you , you stand to make at least $1,270,000 a year. This only applies to syndicated comics who would go web only.Is that enough of an incentive for you Wiley?
“When it comes to non-print cartoons, itâ??s even harder to draw the line. First comes income: There is literally no evidence whatsoever, beyond a few webcartoonistsâ?? personal anecdotesâ??anecdotes that donâ??t sound credibleâ??that any webcartoonist has been able to extract a full-time living from non-print cartoons and sales of merchandise related thereto. (I found Scott Kurtzâ??s accidental revelation that he receives a W-2 revealing and informative.)”
Ted, are you telling me that you have written 3 books on the subject of webcomics, interviewing countless webcartoonists and still hold this view? Astounding.
I just think there should be separate categories for webcomics and webanimations at the Reubens to acknowledge excellence in those formats. What the filtration process is, well, to-be-determined. But I think we have to start by bringing it up in front of other NCS members for vote. I suppose that’s what the NCS business meeting is for on Saturday morning, yes?
Sorry to say we won’t be making it to the Reubens this year. Just.. too… many..
You aren’t talking about that anymore?
I’m going! 🙂
Not going to the Reubens this year, but plan to when my syndicated comic strip makes me the kind of income some web cartoonists on this board get…
“you stand to make at least $1,270,000 a year.”
How in the world did you arrive at this figure? Where did you find information about web comics “reporting ” income?
Rodd…real your partner in…he’s out of control…
I’m just getting started in this webcomic thing… hell, I’m just getting started preparing to get started… but I thought excellence in cartooning involved things like coherent storytelling, compelling art, sparking dialog, realistic character design and so forth. I’m not sure I agree with the NCS’s definition of what constitutes a “professional cartoonist” either, but as a decided non-professional (at least for now) I have absolutely no standing to suggest what the NCS should or should not do. Mostly, I just wanna pal around with like-minded colleagues: you know, talk shop, exchange gossip, maybe drop water balloons on unsuspecting passersby.
Having said that, Let me also suggest that if an organization (say the North American Cartoonist’s Collective) decided to give me an award for excellence in cartooning but excluded a number of cartoonists because they were, say, left-handed, I would be somewhat less honored than if it were otherwise.
Here’s a question: If Charles Schultz makes 80 million dollars a year on licensing and merchandising, but only 12 million bucks a year on syndication of his strip, is he a cartoonist or a mere purveyor of cupcakes and insurance? Just asking.
“Hereâ??s a question: If Charles Schultz makes 80 million dollars a year on licensing and merchandising, but only 12 million bucks a year on syndication of his strip, is he a cartoonist or a mere purveyor of cupcakes and insurance? Just asking.”
Excellent question Phil, and one that the guys at ‘Wiley and Rick Features Syndicate’ will be more than happy to not answer.
>>>A syndicated cartoonist could have a very low number of client papers such that it requires him/her to have a day job to earn a living and yet they could be considered a candidate for the NCS, but a webcomicker could make a near 6-figure salary and be denied.
This is the primary misconception that is at the heart of this entire donnybrook.
If a web based cartoonist is making his living off the web, and has done so for a minimum of three years and hasn’t publicly told other cartoonists they suck or repeatedly denegrated the organization they would more than qualify. There is no monetary threshold one must meet, no magic number in regards to inclome and each case is considered separately on a case by case basis.
I don’t know why this is so difficult to understand
>>>>â??Hereâ??s a question: If Charles Schultz makes 80 million dollars a year on licensing and merchandising, but only 12 million bucks a year on syndication of his strip, is he a cartoonist or a mere purveyor of cupcakes and insurance? Just asking.â?
>>>>Excellent question Phil, and one that the guys at â??Wiley and Rick Features Syndicateâ?? will be more than happy to not answer.
I don’t understand where this misperception comes from but I will hopefully clear this up…
It is irrelevant where a web based cartoon such as PBF, PVP, Schlock Mercenary generates the majority of it’s income from whether it’s from mechandising sales , ad revenue etc.. It gets this income based on the comic they produce so therefor they absolutely meet the income requirements for NCS membership. I don’t know why this is so difficult to understand.
Jim Benton is a long standing NCS member and pretty much makes his living soley through merchandizing and licensing sales. These sales are based on his characters solely produced for licensing and merch.
The problem arises when you try to fit Jim into an awards category since the NCS doesn’t give awards for merchandising. The only award Jim would be eligible for would probably be the Reuben itself given for cartoonist of the year (which I think he’d be a great candidate).
I too would like to see more web based creators who meet NCS requirements in the NCS and become active members at the chapter as well as national level. I think web seminars at the Reuben weekend and at chapter meetings would be well attended and the exchange of ideas welcomed. This could only be a positive step..
This fabricated animosity between web vs print is a waste of time because all of us rely on both the web and print to make our livings.
The problems arise when we collectively start snarking on each other’s content. Perhaps an effort can be made to keep those sentiments private since they are subjective to begin with.
“With ads on your site, your own merchandise and book sales and original art sales all done by you , you stand to make at least $1,270,000 a year. This only applies to syndicated comics who would go web only.”
That is highly speculative, Frank, based on theoretical projections, not on anything substantive. Oh, sure… it sounds great. But if that were the case, none of us would be dealing with syndication anymore.
re:”Not a very good grasp of newspapers or comics”
Sorry, Wiley, but the fact is that comics were originally put in papers and still are put in papers to attract readers, which in turn attracts advertisers. Newspaper readers don’t pay directly for comics and the .75 or $1.00 people pay for a paper doesn’t go very far in covering the cost of creating them. Readers attract advertisers, and that’s where papers make most of their money; the fact that they’re losing advertisers is why they’re all in bankruptcy right now. The notion that comics attract readers is precisely why syndicates are perpetually trying to market strips to specific demographics.
All of this is blindingly obvious, so I’m not sure what it is I don’t understand about newspapers or comics.
In any case, I would argue that, as far as the reader is concerned, newspaper comics are in fact “given away” along with the paper’s general content, or,more accurately, heavily subsidized. The web comics model is not dissimilar, it just cuts out a couple of middlemen, newspapers and syndicates.
Perry Bible Fellowship was an alt weekly strip.
“but the fact is that comics were originally put in papers and still are put in papers to attract readers, which in turn attracts advertisers. ”
That’s a far cry from the question you originally posed, which was:
â??werenâ??t newspaper comics traditionally just shills to get people to read ads for department stores? Until all the advertising went onlineâ?¦â?
So based on your first post, it should little grasp of comics history. Your second post, which was more cogent and less dismissive, showed more understanding.
Yes, comics were created by editors to attract and hold readership back when we had a vibrant, competitive newspaper industry. The circulation numbers were used as baseline in what the newspapers would charge for their ad rates. This was one function of comics. The other was to attract young readers and turn them into future customers by getting them into the newspaper reading habit, and to keep buying the paper with their favorite comics that they grew up with. It worked wonderfully and made cartoonists genuine stars. Newspapers loved cartoonists because they kept them in business. Sadly, today’s editors have absolutely no idea why they carry comics, as they don’t know their own history.
Maybe it’s time to stop steering this thread in different directions.
I wish we had an edit button here. That should have read, “…showed little grasp of comics…”
>> There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.
I have made a living from my webcomic for more than three years now. But as long as there are people in the NCS like Rick Stromoski I have no desire to join it. I cannot imagine joining an organization that calls itself a home for professionals when the members make comments like this.
But I’m sure you wouldn’t benefit from our input anyhow, we obviously have nothing to offer you. Personally I am going to put my head down, work hard, continue to grow my business in whatever manner I see fit and help other folks who are friendly and receptive. Luckily my friends in webcomics don’t have such strict standards for “membership”.
I guess you didn’t read my clarification of that statement…some just read into statements what they wish to read into them. Perhaps I should have placed a smileyface icon after it.
“I guess you didnâ??t read my clarification of that statementâ?¦some just read into statements what they wish to read into them. Perhaps I should have placed a smileyface icon after it.”
Perhaps you shouldn’t say it at all, Rick.
Notice my lack of smiley face use.
Sorry, you’re right, I should have known I would need to read fifty posts down to find a footnote explaining that your statement was a joke. After all, you’re a Professional Humorist! I should have assumed ironic intent.
On second look, it’s clear that your original statement was a hilarious zinger and that you are a tireless defender of webcomics and I offer my deepest apologies if I misinterpreted your original post.
All – this has been a good discussion. Please, let’s keep it from getting personal.
Thanks for the clarification on the income requirement. When I attended last year I saw a few cartoonists in attendance whose work I know wasn’t in enough papers to generate the majority of their income. I suspect now that they could have been guests of another member, just as I was.
So how do you judge majority income? The application process doesn’t appear to afford any documentation to ascertain this.
I think you should ban Rick from posting, Alan. He’s doing the same baiting and petty crap that Kurtz did.
Bad apples, kids. Don’t touch ’em. Just move along.
>>Perhaps you shouldnâ??t say it at all, Rick.
Notice my lack of smiley face use.
>>On second look, itâ??s clear that your original statement was a hilarious zinger and that you are a tireless defender of webcomics and I offer my deepest apologies if I misinterpreted your original post.
You’re absolutely right. I shouldn’t have posted it. It was stupid, mean spirited, contributed nothing to dialog, doesn’t reflect my real opinions on the issue, did nothing but add to the animosity and reflected badly on myself. I apologize to anyone who was offended by it.
I sincerely mean that.
Alan, that wasn’t personal. I thought it was a pretty general statement.
>>>So how do you judge majority income? The application process doesnâ??t appear to afford any documentation to ascertain this.
It’s an inexact science. We rely on the honesty of the applicant that they make the majority of their income from cartooning.
Alan, what evidence do you have that any webcartoonist has ever made nearly six figures in one year? Unless you have something more solid than “Scott Kurtz told me,” there’s no journalistic basis for accepting that claim as a given.
What’s truly unfortunate about this is that neither the old print-only nor the web-only models work very well.
Print had a high barrier to entry, which prevented a lot of more audacious work from being published. Also, only a small cadre of perhaps a few thousand cartoonists earned a great living while other cartoonists, locked out, starved. You have only to look at the typical daily comics page to see how stale and irrelevant most comics are–and that’s something most print cartoonists recognize and are unhappy about.
Web-only has no barrier to entry, which encourages laziness and smugness among cartoonists who constantly hear how great they are from their small number of fans. Because there are so many more cartoonists, each earning very little, the pie of cartooning salary dollars is being sliced so thinly that no one stands a chance of earning a living wage, much less a Schulz-ian pile of loot. Ultimately, this will discourage the most talented artists and drive them into other, more remunerative fields.
I wish we could focus on these realities, because they are kicking our butts.
“But as long as there are people in the NCS like Rick Stromoski I have no desire to join it.”
First of all, Rick is not representative of the membership, which numbers in the hundreds. Nobody is. Like any organization that size, there will be people you like, those you dislike, and many shades of gray in between. None of us, good impression or bad impression, are not entirely what you think based on brief posts on web forums such as this. We’re all human. So one shouldn’t get too vested in what they think someone is like when you’ve never actually met them, and you definitely shouldn’t judge an entire organization based on your feelings, good or bad, toward one member of that organization. You should join or not based on the organization itself.
There are many wonderful people in the NCS and there are jerks, just like the rest of life. So unless you lock yourself in your home, you’re not going to avoid those who you don’t like. And once you do actually meet people, you will more than likely be surprised. For instance, I’ve noticed over the years in the AAEC that some of the closest friendships are between people who are polar opposites politically, and the opposite is among those who are ideologically identical.
Join or don’t join for the right reasons, not for petty, irrelevant reasons.
Perhaps a bunch of NCS members make the majority of their income in cartooning because they are financially supported by their spouse? Or is it household income?
#47 Mark Tatulli. Woah – is that you or did someone post on your handle? That’s quite a different attitude then you had a few years ago on the wisen where you said “I’m a cartoonist. You are a T-shirt salesman.” to a fellow (in my opinion) cartoonist. Glad to read you’re having a change of heart.
“How in the world did you arrive at this figure? Where did you find information about web comics â??reporting â? income?”
Brian, I got it all from the Daily Cartoonist in past threads, going back some months now. Admittedly the figure of $1,270,000 a year was not reported on this actual site but indeed a much lower figure for a lower audience. All I did was use the same ratio to get the figure of $1,270,000 for a audience of 500,000. To get that income you need to get that audience. It’s all common sense.
Actually I was using a very low average to base this on so you could actually earn a lot more that for the same audience. I just didn’t want to shock poor Wiley.
Thank you for the apology Rick. My thanks are sincere, and I believe your apology to be sincere.
I’ve written about two dozen posts for this particular thread, and then deleted them because I felt like they contained “zingers” rather than anything that would move the dialog forward.
I tell you, it’s HARD having these kinds of discussions. I want to understand, and I want to be understood, but this medium is an imperfect communication tool.
To borrow an idea from David Brin, English needs a checksum.
b>@Frank, #96,#127 I’ve done math that way before, and it fails to take into account the full costs of scaling. For instance, if I grow my own readership by a factor of ten, I may indeed sell 10 times as many books, but I could not sell them all directly. I would have to get a publisher and a distributor. Profits would drop like a stone from 80% profit per book sold to around 8%.
(Yes, I net around 80% on each book I sell from my web store. I only net 30% on each book I sell through Amazon.)
To Ted “Web-only has no barrier to entry, which encourages laziness and smugness among cartoonists who constantly hear how great they are from their small number of fans”
Syndicated cartoonists have a small number of fans as well, they just don’t realise it. Whatever the total circulation of newspapers they appear in, say a hundred million , only one in a hundred readers on average actually read any one cartoonist’s (this being one of their top three favourites) strip every day.The rest of the strips are only read once in a while, seriously the amount of attention span people have nowadays nobody has twenty minutes to go through all 40 to 50 strips. Out of that only about 1% of those readers become fan enough to actually buy the book collection or some merchandise, I’m talking newspaper comics here, the percentages for webcomics are about twice that. So that’s a hundred million divided by a hundred hundred equals 10,000 dedicated readers, that’s about what an average webcomic would be getting. But as this is based on a thousand papers if that strip were to be a webcomic you multiply that by a thousand and you get a million dedicated readers.
I’m racking my brain to think of much in the way of solidly talented webcartoonists who have had their comic go under because they couldn’t make a living on it. And I’m not coming up with it. Sure, plenty of webcomics creators have their strips peter out, having offered a handful of good strips and then losing interest. But I have little doubt that print comics are rife with the same problem – creators who can draw a few good strips, but can’t sustain the output and don’t have the diligence and dedication to make it work, improve their craft, and be successful.
The difference is that those creators never see print, whereas among webcomics they litter the Internet with poor-quality aborted comics. But the fact that the slush pile for webcomics is visible doesn’t seem to me to be a meaningful criticism of them.
Please re-read my comment. I was not stating a fact nor attributing the number to a particular webcomic – no need to inject journalism standards. It was a general hypothetical statement about inconsistencies in gaining membership – which were corrected by Rick (#106) and acknowledged by me (#119).
Howard..”Profits would drop like a stone from 80% profit per book sold to around 8%. ”
I don’t know your personal business set-up so forgive me but if you could sell that many books directly , let says 10 times as many books as you do now, could you not employ three people to help at a total cost of say $85,000 a year? Take that off the total cost of the increased income you stand to make and I’m sure it would only drop to about 70% profit on each book but with a huge increased number of books sold. Wouldn’t that be ok? I realise that you have a busy month or so when your each new book first get released and it’s mostly condensed into that period so perhaps hire more people for a shorter length of time?
But as this is based on a thousand papers if that strip were to be a webcomic you multiply that by a thousand and you get a million dedicated readers.
Frank, I think that assumption is faulty.
I’m supported by passionate, “hard-core” Schlock Mercenary fans. I’m not convinced that if my general readership — people who browse the website or manually add the RSS feed to their trawl — went up by a factor of 10 (or a hundred, or a thousand) that the number of zealous, merchandise-buying schlockers would go up by the same number.
Why not? Because for the numbers to go up like that something unprecedented has to happen. I would need to get covered by CNN as I thwart a pirate attack on a cruise ship, or something else equally unlikely that puts my name and my URL in front of 100 million people. Those people would not be acquiring the taste for my strip the way my hard-core fans did, and their experience with it, their expectations from it would be different.
Similarly, scaling up my numbers (or Kellett’s or Kurtz’, or any other successful web-toonist) probably doesn’t apply to taking a newsprint feature to the web, because moving those readers from newsprint TO the web requires something new, something we haven’t seen before, and it will generate a new sort of reader experience.
Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” is a good read, apropos to this, and describes the underpinnings of my business quite nicely.
Re Comics traditionally used to attract young readers
That actually goes to the heart of the crisis in syndicated cartooning. The fact is, practically no one under the age of 50 regularly reads newspapers anymore(go ahead–ask around), and syndicated cartoons, which were once the most visible, appreciated and rewarded kind of (print)cartooning are increasingly becoming a cultural sideline– and that’s before you consider the fact that the newspaper industry as we’ve known it is falling apart. Given anyone’s chances of launching a truly successful new syndicated strip these days–almost nil–people who want to do strips will inevitably be pushed to the web. And, by the way, I say this as someone who actually does a syndicated newspaper strip. If the NCS(of which I’m a member) doesn’t change to accomodate the new realities, it’ll simply become irrelevant.
I find Ted Rall’s discussion of audience numbers and possible income curious,in that it seems to assume an finite amount of available cartooning revenue in the world which decreases according to how many cartoonists share it. As musicians have learned, you can make as much or more money from a small audience that directly supports you as you can from a very large audience you access through middlemen that take most of the money. I have no idea how many people make 6 figures off web comics, but a number of people claim to make decent livings and I don’t think they’re all lying just to bluff readers of “The Daily Cartoonist’. As for would-be cartoonists being scared off because they won’t make enough money–well, I know I’m doing this to get rich, but I don’t think my case is typical.
Good question Frank (#133).
If we assume that there is demand, right now, right this minute, for 10 times the books I’ve been selling, then I’m going to make out like a BANDIT. I’m going to do exactly what you said. I’m going to hire two or three people full-time, rent a facility, and drop my profit margin to about 50% per book.
But that assumption is flawed because that’s not how the demand will scale. The demand will scale when a big publisher approaches me and says “we want to carry your book.” I sell them the rights to print a new edition, and now I’m in for a standard royalty deal. Sure, my sales went up by a factor of 10, but my net went down by the same amount.
I think this is exactly what happened with Jon Rosenberg and Random House.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m doing everything I can to increase demand for my books, and to drive readers to my web-store. This last book pre-order has been my most effective to date, and as of April 2nd my web-store sales were better than my 2007 web-store sales put together. I’m already halfway to beating my 2008 numbers, and 2008 was a banner year for me.
So yes, I’d LOVE to see increased demand through this particular channel. But I don’t see it happening in orders of magnitude. There’s no mechanism for it.
The 1000 true fans link seems to me to capture the webcomic model perfectly, and also to capture why some comics are just well-suited to the web. Taking one of the runaway success stories of the web, Penny Arcade. This is a comic that *never* would have worked in print. Why? Because profanity-laced high-context video game humor is not of sufficient broadness for most publications. On the other hand, there is an audience for it – it’s just a very distributed audience. But the audience that wants it wants it badly, because, well, that’s often the nature of artistic fandom. The more unique what you offer is, the more passionate the fans you have are. It’s the difference between, say, Grey’s Anatomy fans and Battlestar Galactica fans. There may be many more of the former, but the latter will pour far more money into their love.
How you feel about this seems to me to end up spitting on a sort of mass culture/avant garde axis. Do you think that there are unique artistic possibilities offered at the margins of popularity? If so, you’re going to find yourself praising webcomics, because that’s where you find people working at the margins.
Do you think that real skill is crafting something liked by all tastes? Then you’re going to find yourself liking newspaper comics, which represent a model based more on a lower level of adoration by more people.
“First of all, Rick is not representative of the membership, which numbers in the hundreds. ”
From Rick’s website:
“He has been nominated for his illustration work by the National Cartoonists Society 12 times and was awarded the Reuben division award for best greeting cards in 1995 and 1998, and for magazine gag cartoons in 1999. Elected to the board of the National Cartoonists Society in 1997, he has served as First Vice President and Membership Chairman, and was elected President by the NCS membership in 2005. ”
But yeah, I take your point. There’s probably lots of good guys in the organization but the dismissive attitude seems fairly commonplace. I think the fact that folks like Ted have such a hard-on for verifiable proof of income for lying, cheating webcartoonists but apparently NCS requires no proof of income at all from its print members, relying on their sense of honor, is a fair example of the sort of low-level animosity towards webcomics that I see every time I poke my head into one of these threads.
Can you really blame me for not wanting to explore further out of my home? You guys are mean! I can get amazing advice at the drop of the hat from dozens of friendly, experienced, business-savvy webcartoonists, 24 hours a day, because I wasn’t a dick to them back when they were starting out. Those guys understand that the true currency of the internet is good will, and that burning it in these difficult times is foolish at best.
“I think this is exactly what happened with Jon Rosenberg and Random House.”
Not entirely accurate, Howard, I’ll email you offline with details. I wouldn’t have shot myself in the foot like that.
(Howard nods sagely, his eyes full of mystery and wonder as he reads Jon’s email offline)
I didn’t think you had, but in re-reading my post it sounds that way. Whoops!
“And the point is, why are webcomics done in the same format as newspaper comics? This lack of creativity and imagination is simply stunning.”
They often are not. Many webcomics use other formats. Perhaps you’re just not familiar with them? Personally, my strip American Elf has a loose kinda tall square shape that differs somewhat in proportions every day.
In addition, in the early days of webcomics there was a real push, led by the comics theorist Scott McCloud, towards something called the “Infinite Canvas”.
So, yeah, webcomics have done their share of exploring formats that wouldn’t really work in a newspaper strip. It’s just that the traditional newspaper strip format actually works quite well online, and people like the format.
I draw cartoons.
Most, if not all, of you other guys draw cartoons,too.
I draw because I love it, and I can’t conceive of not drawing cartoons.
It is probably the same for all of the rest of you.
We all would like to make money doing what we love, so that we could continue doing what we love.
Some of us make more money at it than others, and some of us make that money differently than others do.
If you make more money than I do, or more people read your cartoons than read mine, GOOD FOR YOU!
I will try harder, and I will listen to whatever ideas come down the pike that will help me in my quest for more success, monetarily and artistically.
Over the years, growing up as a budding cartoonist, I wrote many letters to cartoonists that I admired and wanted to show my work to. Because of my age, none of those were on the web, because the web hadn’t been invented yet.
Not one of those cartoonists EVER wrote me back or even acknowledged that they had received anything from me. I would always chalk that up to the idea that there were only so many slots in the world for cartoonists, and those guys didn’t want anymore competition than they already had.
But with the advent of the internet, and the possibility of people reading my cartoons around the world, (and they have), many more cartoonists have the opportunity to grow, develop, and be monetarily recompensed for their work.
What a great thing!
All of these pissy, back-and-forth tit for tat comments between web and print cartoonists obscure the fact that we are all doing what we love to do, and should be pretty f@#$%&* happy that we get to do it. Think of the folks living in countries with regressive governments that want to comment on the world through cartoons and aren’t allowed to, upon fear of imprisonment or even death.
Okay, sorry, I’m done. Back to my drawing board.
If you’re looking to hang out with other cartoonists without being a member of anything, the NCS has regional chapters. Some cover a couple of states and meet once a year. Others (like NYC) meet every month. I was the chair of the Upstate NY one and we had a couple of full-time freelancers who didn’t really want to be members of the NCS but dug hanging out with other cartoonists. (Mike Lynch is the “National Representative” in you’re interesting in finding a chapter near you.)
Speaking of syndication: Jeff Stahler, (“Moderately Confused” and editorial cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch), Steve Boreman (“Little Lost Dog”) and myself are on a panel called “The Adventures of a Working Class Syndicated Comic Stripper” at 2:00 this Saturday (April 18) at SPACE in Columbus, Ohio. None of us are (or in my case, were) at the top of the totem pole, so it will hopefully be a unique look at the synd game. If you’re not going to be in the buckeye state to harass us during Q&A, feel free to e-mail me with topics that you think should be discussed.
And, way back at #2 Tom Heintjes called me “the man, the myth, the one and only John Kovaleski!’ Gee, that’s a lot to live up to. (Do I have to fit all that on my name tag?)
Mark said: â??I think there is a distinct difference between newspaper comics strips and webcomics: Webcomics can use adult content and newspapers cannot.â?
Just to provide a juxtaposition to that:
HBO/Cinemax/Showtime can use adult content, vary the formats, etc, but they are still up for the same Emmy’s that the big four are up for.
So, while I agree with Dave way back who said ‘These awards are for print medium, they should stay that way, it’s how their defined’, to say that the reason the streams shouldn’t cross is because of the ability of one group to use different themes (something I disagree with, as you can explore plenty of adult themes in a newspaper), I call shenanigans.
I am a teenage female who’s wanted to be in the comics industry since I was little. I read Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes growing up, and later a lot of Get Fuzzy. I still enjoy a lot of the comics in the papers- when I can get them.
To see a few of these print strips going to the web excites me, since I’ve also been a fan of Penny Arcade for years, as wells as PvP. Scott Kurtz was and still is one of the most influential people is my life. I only wish more of you syndicated cartoonists would adapt. I would read a lot more faithfully if you were more readily available. The newspaper in my area is too expensive for me JUST to read the comics, and the other content inside it just doesn’t benefit me. You don’t have to go 100%, cold turkey web format. I can even read the most recent Get Fuzzy comics online, and that’s not run by the artist himself if I am correct.
The whole world is suffering a paradigm shift. These are difficult times. Newspapers are going to have to learn to sink or swim, and with them is newspaper funnies.
I’m rooting for you guys, but just being stubborn and sitting around in your funk isn’t going to help. Take these times as a chance to explore and innovate. Breathe new life into your craft, maybe fall in love with it all over again.
Please understand an outsiders point of view.
Without getting into the print/web debate, I wanted to follow-up on what David wrote about writing to the various cartoonists he admired.
My own experience in writing to many of my heroes was wonderful, I received a letter and/or drawing from the majority over the (pre-web) years. Hank Ketcham especially used to write wonderful letters about classic humor & his own heroes such as Fred Allen, Jack Benny & Peter Arno.
“There is no Reuben division category for online T-shirt sales sites.”
Well, dang it! http://www.cafepress.com/souptonutz.12041576
@147 – This is where I think the syndicates can learn a bit from web cartoonists. Who walks around with a comic strip printed on their t-shirt? That’s very lazy marketing and I bet the sales reflect that. On the flipside, PVP has a t-shirt called “I’m Killing Newspapers (By Reading Webcomics)” which I’m willing to bet is doing pretty well.
“I only wish more of you syndicated cartoonists would adapt. I would read a lot more faithfully if you were more readily available.”
Please name the cartoons that are not readily available. They are all available on syndicate’s websites. All there to read for free
Good grief! What happened here?!
I don’t think there’s a syndicated strip not on the web, mostly on Comic.com or Gocomics.com (which even reruns my strip “bo Nanas.”)
Wow, all this from the simple question “Who’s going to this year’s Reubens?”.
I’m going but you better believe I will map out where all the restrooms are. Because I’m afraid that if I pose my own simple question like, “Excuse me, where’s the bathroom?”, I will surely have a very embarrassing accident by the time I receive a response that pertains to my actual question.
Looking forward to it though. Uh, the Reubens, not the possibility of an accident.
Aw, I seemed to have missed this particular tsunami of web vs. print. I ran here with my surf board for nothing.
Any one know when the next curl will swell?
As a P.S. Why is someone posting as Charles Schulz? That seems extremely lacking in class to me.
Class? On The Daily Cartoonist? I’m sorry, I think you have this site mixed up with some other site full of professionals conducting themselves in a professional manner.
Come on, we are talking about Mr. Schulz, you’d think that would be sacred ground for any person in comics – web or print.
I think the intent was that Charles Schulz was a little disappointed…
I’m not the one who keeps bringing up webcartoonists’ income. Webcartoonists do that, usually as a way to prove that they’re better than print cartoonists (who are webcartoonists who also do print, but because they do both they are worse and out of touch), and also as a way to make money selling books and conventions to aspiring cartoonists about how they too could do the same.
Personally, I think there’s zero relationship between financial success and quality in comics, music or anything else. But it seems to me that, if webcartoonists wanna claim that they make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, they oughta be willing to prove it. I challenged Scott Kurtz to reveal his 2008 tax return, but he refused. Anyone else?
It would be better if webcartoonists (who are print cartoonists minus the print) were to stop promoting their business models and started concentrating on their comics instead.
The question, for me, is how print vs. web stack up as media. Certainly there are differences. Is it appropriate to pit a print cartoon that publishes 7 days a week against a three day a week webcomic for an award? Are those the same kind of work?
Is it appropriate to print cartoon that publishes in a fixed-proportion rectangle against a webcomic that uses a different shape for each strip? Are those the same kind of work?
On the flip side, if a webcomic is publishing on a 7/week schedule, and they’re staying in newspaper proportions, is it doing something substantially different, artistically, from a newspaper strip?
To my mind there is a valid case to be made that the publishing constraints of newspaper comics are a specific form that have an artistic identity, and that comics that are working within those constraints are engaging in a unique form.
I thought a posting as Schultz with a ‘Good Grief’ would be an industry appropriate Godwin’s Law to shut down a conversation.
(Note: I didn’t post it.)
I agree that having a set size restriction (like traditional print) DOES influence the content of the comic. I am re-entering the comic strip world after having abandoned it 25 years ago to pursue animation (www.lippy.com).
I’m finding the solitary nature of being my own boss the most exhilarating and of course the most tension-filled aspect of the gig.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to join the celebration this year. I will be there in spirit, although the rest of me will be at this desk in Kansas City.
“Alan, what evidence do you have that any webcartoonist has ever made nearly six figures in one year? Unless you have something more solid than â??Scott Kurtz told me,â? thereâ??s no journalistic basis for accepting that claim as a given.”
I don’t know if this is proof per say but I would say that this: http://www.pennyarcadeexpo.com/ plus this: http://www.rainslick.com/ and the amazing success of this: http://www.childsplaycharity.org/ I’m guessing someone is making at least six figures a year. Again it’s not “I stole someone’s tax return” proof but I they draw thousands of people to their own personal convention every year. I’m assuming they do somthing right.
This is really strange for me I’ve always loved comics, and I honestly only heard about this site through someone’s twitter updates. Honestly, what’s going on with you people? You all draw pictures and try to make money. I get it but these flame wars rival anything I’ve seen on the net. I’m wating for Godwin’s law to set in pretty soon.
Again this isn’t my fight (and I must say thanks to all of you I’ve been entertained by the comments I’ve read) but it’s alot of attacking for such a small community. It seems to me there aren’t that many strip cartoonists that you should really be excluding people. Would you all really be sad if someone who made comics for 3 years and never really made that much money joined your group? I understand it’s a professional organization but it just seems kind of counter productive.
And I promise to have those pages to you soon, Caty, I promise!
Over 160 posts, and less than 10 people actually answered the question Alan asked to open this thread! Still, it was very interesting reading, wasn’t it?
I’ll be at the Reuben weekend.
I’m a web based cartoonist who was NCS president. There’s no prejudice against web based cartoonists in the NCS, just an effort to keep amateurs out, and a recognition that there are probably a thousand wannabe cartoonists for every one working professional cartoonist. And there are a lot more amateur cartoonists published on the web than in print.
The NCS had a “New Media” award category for a few years, and it failed because of lack of interest and lack of submissions. I expect it will come back someday.
I hear a lot of the same arguments from amateur editorial cartoonists who insist that I include them on my site as some kind of professional entitlement; they want to know the details of the rules for choosing cartoonists for the site, so they can quibble over the rules. They insist that I’m prejudiced or some kind of unfair, self-appointed gatekeeper. Of-course, I didn’t want them because I thought their work was lousy or they were too unpleasant, but they can’t hear that.
More people want to be in this profession than the profession can support. Business is bad now. That makes people grouchy.
As a “consumer” of cartoonist’s works, I would say that I don’t care if the strip is in print or on the web, so long as it entertains me. My local newspaper carries about twenty strips. I subscribe to the three major sites on the web, and read about 120 strips throughout the day. So even though they are syndicated, and appear in print somewhere, to my mind the vast majority of what I read every day are web strips. Does it matter? I guess at some level, but not one that I really consider all that much. As regards T-shirts, books, etc., I wish the syndicated strips were more accessible in this fashion. There are dozens of strips I would love to see published in book form (heck, I’m still hoping for the second “Heart of the City” book some day).
To go back to the Reubens. Can someone explain how strips are nominated? Who decides who wins, and what are the criteria?
Umm. Wow. I feel like I showed up late for Fight Club.
I’ll be at the Reubens. At the ‘conflict free’ table near the bar, if that’s allowed.
>>”Iâ??m not the one who keeps bringing up webcartoonistsâ?? income.”
You’re the only one who seems to care about it. Get over yourself.
I suppose the question that all of this discussion boils down to is: Should the NCS recognize webcomics by allowing webcomic authors to petition for membership?
That is up to the NCS, and I can imagine a time in the not too distant future when that question might be addressed. The particulars on how one would qualify for membership in that regard obviously cannot be worked out here. Great care and thought would have to be put in to that.
Perhaps a short term solution is a seperate organization for web cartoonists organized BY web cartoonists?
Webcartoonists can petition for membership. I’m a new member and a webcartoonist. I got in thanks to a reccommendation by fellow webcartoonist (and all around swell guy) Brad Guigar. I think the real boiled down discussion is wether or not webcartoons should be eligible for a Rueben award.
Just wanted to point out that you don’t have to be an NCS member to win any of the awards.
Thanks John. I honestly didn’t know that. My apologies and I stand corrected.
I have a question. What is a Reuben?
Does anyone in the general public really care? I’ve never heard of the award. It certainly has never influenced me in the slightest. I can’t remember ever seeing a book collection and thinking, “Reuben Award-winning! Ooh la la! You got my money now!”
I understand every industry takes time to pat itself on the back. For some reason over this one, I just don’t see myself in the trenches to get webcomics included. I actually want to see it stay print only, so in a couple years it’ll be like 17 people total. Won’t that be a sight?
I have one foot in print (actually four feet in print), and one foot in web cartoons (animated). I argue with myself all the time.
The awards aren’t what appeal to me about the NCS, it’s the whole “birds of a feather” thing.
The barriers to entry to the web aren’t THAT low. You either have to know how to set up a website, or be able to pay for (or know) someone who does. xkcd is a near bare-bones site, and would still be a challenge to set up and maintain from scratch for someone new to the technology. Even if you hire that out, you should know something about how it all works so you can be a knowledgeable consumer of those services.
After a site like xkcd is set up, the ongoing challenge, aside from producing three good cartoons a week, is the maintenance of the forums. They are the magnet that holds the tribe together, much like threads like this one that pull people back to this site. So it’s fortunate that xkcd targets a young technology-savy audience, because they provide a natural pool of people willing to serve as moderators on the forums. He’s hit upon a good mix of elements to support his work.
You usually have to do all of what Tom says above as part of a part-time gig. Not an easy task. I’ve been trying to switch to twice weekly updates, but even that has proven difficult given the demands of my day job and family. Starting up a good webcomic is a huge undertaking keeping it going is just huge all around.
I know it probably says so above, but where are the Reubens being held this year?
The Reubens (called that despite the fact that there is only one Reuben given each year) is a weekend gathering of “birds of a feather” which happens to take place in Los Angeles this Memorial Day weekend.
Michael Koes, while the Reuben and the NCS division awards might be the cartooning community “patting itself on the back,” I figure MOST cartoonists would get a kick out of being lauded by their peers, just as actors and directors in the motion picture business appreciate awards from theirs. Unlike the Oscar, winning a Reuben or a NCS division award has never been for the general public; it’s notice from your colleagues, and the real value of it (I imagine) comes from the appreciation you feel that people you respect like what you’re doing.
I just want to comment that I agree with Bill Hinds. I look forward to the Reubens all year, and it has NOTHING to do with the awards. It’s about talking, hanging out and learning from others who have, for some reason, chosen to pick up a pencil and draw funny pictures for a living. That’s a unique group, and I could really care less where they’re putting those funny pictures – newspapers, web, cocktail napkins… Let’s all get together and have a beer by the pool. Tatulli’s buying.
Whoah, Harrell. Now you may have one drink, but I’m not buying for all your hangers-on.
Rob, do you really have an entourage?
Oh, yes. I roll in like Lil Wayne. Nothing but Cristal.
Word, ya heard. Na mean?
Rob, if you hang close to Mr. Tatulli you might get to meet such icons as Arnold Roth.
And if he hangs reeeeeally close, he’ll get my latest STD
my name is patric and i do a comic.
you can read it in book form.
you can read it in a floppy comic form.
you can read it on the web.
i have been making my comic for over 6 years.
i do not make a living off of it. but i haven’t tried to either.
so when we talk about the hundreds of webcomics out there, i wonder how many are people like me who aren’t attempting to make a living off of their comic. people who have a small, but loyal, readership. people who do very little marketing or merchandising.
and, i think there is an award for those people. actually, there are a couple. the eisners are hip to this scene. and the harveys too.
so, i’m cool with the reubens being an award for syndicated comics. it’s a different side of the comics family. and i’m sure it’ll evolve as everything does. 10 years from now, i’m certain we’ll see comics published exclusively on the web (first run, that is) nominated and winning reubens.
“so, iâ??m cool with the reubens being an award for syndicated comics.”
Syndicated comic strips is just one of the many division awards, and there is only one Reuben Award, which is for “Cartoonist of the Year”, which is not limited to those doing comic strips.
Darly Cagle wrote:
“Of-course, I didnâ??t want them because I thought their work was lousy or they were too unpleasant, but they canâ??t hear that.”
Uh, Daryl I recently sent you a query about hosting my “Fault Lines” strip (www.faultlinescomic.com). Haven’t heard from you yet. I wonder what you think of my work?
“Syndicated comic strips is just one of the many division awards, and there is only one Reuben Award, which is for â??Cartoonist of the Yearâ?, which is not limited to those doing comic strips.”
So an amateur webcomic could conceivably win the big Reuben, requiring only a plurality of NCS members’ votes– even though it was ineligible for any other award?
Hypothetically, of course.
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