Scott Kurtz to speak at Macworld

The Macworld website has posted news that PvP creator Scott Kurtz will speak at this year’s Macworld along with Chicago Sun-Times and Macworld columnist Andy Ihnatko. The discussion description:

or the past century, succeeding as a writer or artist in the newspaper business required submitting work to syndicates and editors. Chances of success for slim, and your reward was a one-sided and often contentious business relationship. Now, all you need to build a career and an audience are good ideas, a solid work ethic, and your own website.

Scott Kurtz is one of the most successful creators working under this new model. The world of PVPOnline, his popular Mac-produced webcomic, includes a daily strip with books, merchandise, and even animated cartoons…and a one to one relationship between readers and creator. In an interview with Chicago Sun-Times and Macworld columnist Andy Ihnatko, Kurtz talks about what digital self-publishing means to creators and publishers, and how devices like the upcoming Apple Tablet could continue to tip the balance in favor of independent artists.

333 thoughts on “Scott Kurtz to speak at Macworld

  1. This is like George W. Bush speaking about human rights. Awesome!

    Not only does Scott not know anything about syndication (having never been syndicated), he deliberately spreads misinformation about it.

  2. I think this is awesome. It’s also reflective of a bigger story that I think has gone largely unreported. And that is that in “nerdy” circles webcomics are reaching almost mainstream status. Meredith Gran, Richard Stevens, and Chris Onstad spoke at Google. And if you walk through a physics or math department you can’t walk past two offices without seeing an xkd or smbc comic on someone’s door. I’m starting to see Dinosaur Comics, Amazing Super Powers, Cyanide and Happiness, Buttersafe, Sheldon, Savage Chickens, PC Weenies, Sinfest, Overcompensating, and more almost everywhere. Almost everyone I know between 25 and 35 reads at least a few webcomics.

  3. Tony, Are you sure this is the case?

    How could people find good comics when it’s all surrounded by such crap? The internet is devaluing everything. Take another look. None of this stuff is happening. I’m not appearing at Macworld or the Schulz museum. Print is flourishing. In fact, you’re not even READING THIS POST.


  4. @Tony: You think it’s awesome that someone who deliberately lies about a subject over and over is presented to unsuspected listeners as an expert?

    I don’t understand why Scott can’t tell the truth about himself. He could promote himself as one of the most important webcartoonists around. He could talk about what he perceives as the future of the medium. He’s got a lot to say, he’s smart, he’s accomplished a lot. There’s a lot more to life than making buckets of money. Seriously, creating a strip lots of people want to read IS awesome!

    Why does he have to promote himself as an expert on print syndication?

    Just be yourself, Scott.

  5. Perhaps my eyesight is failing me, or maybe I’m just illiterate, but I don’t see anywhere in that blurb where it mentions Kurtz will be speaking about print syndication or that he is an expert on the topic. I read “Kurtz talks about what DIGITAL SELF-PUBLISHING means to creators and publishers”. And surely, Scott knows a thing or two about that.

  6. @Ted My point was only that I’m excited about growing mainstream recognition that is finally reflective of what many of us have known in “nerdy” circles for many years now. I have nothing personal against Scott.

  7. Macworld Main Stage
    MNS8: He Wants To Kill Your Newspaper: An Interview With Webcomics Magnate Scott Kurtz

    “Webcomics Magnate”? An oxymoron, except perhaps for the Penny Arcade guys. Perhaps.

    For the past century, succeeding as a writer or artist in the newspaper business required submitting work to syndicates and editors.

    And it still does. Succeeding, that is.

    Chances of success for slim

    As opposed to the world of webcomics? Where how many people make a real living? Two?

    PVPOnline, his popular Mac-produced webcomic

    What does this even mean? Photoshop exists in both PC and Mac versions. What is a “Mac-produced” comic? How can we tell?

    Argh. I can’t go on, I must go on,

    Happy Christmas, everyone!

  8. Ted, do you want to just have sex with me and get it over with? You’re obsessing and losing any objectivity you once had.

    I didn’t write that blurb. Andy Ihnatko did. He’s a columnist fir the Chicago Sun Times. You know, one of the newspapers I’m “killing.”

    it’s hyperbole at worst and his opinion at best.

    BTW, Mac produced means I make it on a mac, Einstein.

  9. The whole “Mac-produced” thing does crack me up (not regarding Scott, but how Apple promotes itself sometimes). It’s great marketing.

    I use a Mac and a PC, and Windsor & Newton, and Speedball. So my comic can actually be a Mac, PC, Windsor/Newton, Speedball, Bristol and Higgins production. I suppose I’m a Mustek artist when I use the old scanner.

    I work with some artists who tend to think their stuff is better because it’s on a Mac and I’m thinking, “Dude, it’s a TOOL”. A very, very cool tool, but a tool nonetheless.

    I love my Mac. Illustrator can crash it. My boss bought the new one for himself.

  10. Stephen,

    Back when Apple had their switch campaign going, they had a whole section of their website dedicated to interviews with creative people and how they use their macs. It’s always kinda been their thing. It’s goofy, but so is a lot of stuff the people in the mac community cling to.

  11. Re: Ted — It’s hard not to like someone who quotes “Texts For Nothing.” “Suddenly…no, at last…at long, long last, I couldn’t anymore” is another fine lament from that piece.

    Re: “Mac-produced” — It’s a presentation for Macworld Expo so I thought I ought to sneak at least one bit of Mac-ness into the description. In truth, this is on the sked solely because all involved think it’ll be cool and interesting, which are usually the two best reasons for trying anything. But I agree that choice of creative tool is now (largely but not completely) irrelevant.

  12. “Ted, do you want to just have sex with me and get it over with? ”

    I’m pretty sure Ted isn’t the one here who’s actually Tweeted about how fighting with someone on this site made them sexually aroused toward their wife, but that’s just being nitpicky.

  13. Iâ??m pretty sure Ted isnâ??t the one here whoâ??s actually Tweeted about how fighting with someone on this site made them sexually aroused toward their wife, but thatâ??s just being nitpicky.

    Scott still owes me a hundred bucks for that. PayPal, man, it ain’t a city in China!

  14. Scott: Will they be recording the panel? I’d be happy just to get hear the audio?

    Ted: At least you’re finally admitting that Scott is actually earning a serious income off his work. Baby steps, baby steps.

  15. I don’t know, re: audio.

    However, Leo Laporte mentioned that he’s going to be streaming his panel at Macworld live over the internet. I might talk to the promoters about doing the same for ours. I just don’t know if it’s going to be possible.

  16. I am a magnate as well as a captain of industry.

    Ted if you want to sing the praises of Syndication why not do it on your website? I’m sure the five or six people who read it would be very interested.

    HEY OH!

  17. Why do that when he can pluck a number from thin air and claim he reaches that many people through the newspaper?

  18. Why do that when he can pluck a number from thin air and claim he reaches that many people through the newspaper?

    As opposed to the reliable “data” on Google Analytics, Alexa, and Project Wonderful? Ha.

  19. “a person of rank, influence, or distinction.”

    Scott Kurtz IS a magnate, unless you want to ignore that people flock to his website, follow his twitter, invite him to events all across the country, and drive to a con just to chat him up for a bit and buy a book. Not to mention that half the internet erupts in anger when he doggedly voices his opinion. Why would they do that if they didn’t know or care about him?

  20. “As opposed to the reliable â??dataâ? on Google Analytics, Alexa, and Project Wonderful? Ha.”

    I think the 60k people that showed up to his convention and the over 1.3 million they raised for charity this year alone are reliable statistics enough. And that’s certainly more of an accurate gauge of the reach and influence of their work than adding up the circulation of the periodicals one appears in and claiming them as your own.

    Sometimes it’s nice to have Google analytics or server-side logs to help give you estimates of your average traffic. But most of the time there are more conventional indications as to how you’re doing.

  21. Conventional indications like offering your wildly-popular comic strip to budget-conscious newspapers for free, and not one of them taking it?

  22. Ted, papers not running PvP say a lot more about Newspapers than it does about PvP.

    When I was a kid, we used to get the paper. My dad would read the sports and the local news. My Mom pulled out the coupons and then it went into a basket next to the fireplace to be used as kindling. Claiming a newspaper’s circulation as your readership is ridiculous.

    People might read your comics while thumbing through a paper but they will not go en mass to visit your website and they will not seek out your work someplace else should it suddenly disappear from the paper.

    Newspapers have subsidized the work of bad artists and boring comics for a long time. Things are changing now with the internet. If you want to be successful you need to create work that resonates with people. Pretty soon no one is going to pay you to make f—ing donkey elephant comics.

    Your playing the violin on the titanic and the truth is your not even playing it very well.

  23. “Conventional indications like offering your wildly-popular comic strip to budget-conscious newspapers for free, and not one of them taking it?”

    No Ted, conventional indicators like being invited to Macworld to talk about the future of the industry you’ve almost killed off while you whine to the Comics Journal about how you’re losing all your clients.

    Conventional indicators like that.

  24. why is ted rall allowed to post here? all he does is spew vile and ill-informed opinions that he can’t actually cite hard data for. and he clearly has some personal grudge against kurtz. my god, for the way ted goes off on kurtz, you’d think scott murdered his family. seriously, this is ridiculous. okay, we get it, ted. you don’t like the web comics. until you have a constructive way to help your field of comics, stop bothering other people with your hate.

  25. Actually, Patrick, this all started when *webcartoonists* started claiming they were making bazillions of dollars–and refused to even talk about, much less provide, hard data to back up their questionable assertions.

  26. Ted, you’re the last one clinging to this argument. Let it go. We know all about the webcartoonists who are making a living and how they make a living. We don’t need to rehash it. However, speaking of providing hard data to back up questionable assertions ….how about that info in regards to Google Analytics? Still waiting for it….

  27. Ted, you’re being a revisionist.

    This whole thing started when we webcomic artists claimed we were making a living. You are the one claiming bazillions of dollars.

    We were happy to talk about it. We just don’t want to publish our W9 forms publicly.

  28. Who wants to see a Ted Rall vs. Scott Kurtz debate at Comicon 2010?

    And who wants to moderate it and ask the questions?

    I’m up for it. I think Ted’s got nothing to stand on.

  29. @Mike: Dissing traditional political cartooning is so-o-o-o passe. However: Adapting your own character (whatever the h*ll an “Illithid” is) into a spoof of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas?” THAT’S blinding originality.

    Happy holidays!

  30. I don’t know what an Illithid is either, if only there was some giant, elaborate, global information network I could connect to and search for relevant data on… Oh well.

  31. @Don I could go look “Illithid” up in my local newspaper and see if there is any information on them in there… Hmm… Nope. I guess it’s nothing.

  32. Challenge accepted.

    Why no W-9s? Webcartoonists claim they earn more money than print cartoonists. That’s the whole crux of the debate here.

    How can we settle that question without seeing W-9s, 1040s, and Schedule Cs?

  33. Ted Rall: “Webcartoonists claim they earn more money than print cartoonists.”

    Not this argument again.

    As Scott pointed out earlier the only one making that claim is you, a fact that has been pointed out in previous threads over and over and over again.

    Some (not all) webcartoonists have claimed that they’re making a decent enough living. Not that they’re diving into their Scrooge McDuck moneybins; just that they’re making a decent living.

  34. Are there any comic strips that are web-only or print-only? Webcomics sell print editions to make money, and print comics are online for free. How much of a difference is there?

  35. Here we go – you throw out words like “decent living,” Ted responds with absurd salary figures that to him mean “decent living” – we talk about how things are relative, throw out terms like median incomes and everyone goes back into their corners.

  36. “How can we settle that question without seeing W-9s, 1040s, and Schedule Cs?”

    Good point. I would love to see tax documents of print cartoonists, to see how many actually make a living at drawing a comic strip.

  37. Let me just add this – the general thought behind web cartoonists (building a following and then being able to merchandise to that following) is happening everywhere. Simply turn to YouTube and you will see aspiring actors/models/directors who are obtaining a following and using that as a launchpad to other ventures. (Just look at FRED as one example of many:

    Musicians are doing it, writers are doing it, this idea is becoming commonplace….

  38. @Ted

    There are many successful webcomics that don’t have books yet. There include (correct me if I’m wrong) Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Cat and Girl, Daisy Owl, Overcompensating, and Amazing Super Powers. Dinosaur Comics has one book, but I doubt that’s a leading revenue stream.

    In the end though, I don’t really think this is an issue. The issue is more with the free distribution method as the primary means to building an audience.

  39. RE: “the general thought behind web cartoonists”

    I say this as a web cartoonist: Anyone who thinks they speak for all web cartoonists, please stop.

    You disrespect the diversity that is webcomics.

  40. Thanks, Tony. I figured I was generalizing a bit.

    If free distribution is the issue, though, then there’s no print vs. web issue. The syndicates do the same thing. They’ve given comics away free for at least a decade. The one thing that was an exclusive asset to newspapers disappeared.

  41. @Greg Smith: Ted is not claiming that Webcartoonists are millionaires. All his asking is for proof that Webcomics are earning more than print syndicated comics. Scott and the Halfpixel crew have said on several occasions that if one was to get into print syndication now, and gain a popular following, they would not get the millions that Jim Davis or Charles Schulz used to get. Their contention therefore has been, if you are a cartoonist starting off today, you are better off starting as an independent/web cartoonist as opposed to a print syndicated cartoonist. Hence the need for proof!

  42. Alan, I propose that you add a “Scott vs Ted”(Print vs Web) link to your main navigation ;). That should boost up your traffic. I for one have been thoroughly entertained by their exchanges 😀

  43. “How can we settle that question without seeing W-9s, 1040s, and Schedule Cs?”

    A ruler comes to mind … Just remember that 15.24 cm may sound big, but it’s still 6 inches.

    But seriously, I don’t see what a Kurtz vs. Rall debate will resolve in the eyes of fellow cartoonists (or the public) for the good of cartooning.

    Neither party has been able to accept or resolve their differences in a civilized manner here, so a public debate will just be an ego-stroking bloodbath — with Alan probably receiving hits for stepping in between. After all, Ted has made it very clear what information will settle this once and for all for him, but if that topic will be taboo, there’s no point in this event ever taking place.

    As many have already pointed out, terms like “making a living” are relative, so again, there’s no point in this event ever taking place.

    Congrats on the Macworld talk, Scott … There’s something to be proud of and look forward to.

  44. Everyone:

    Please keep in mind both participants of this debate are aware that we’re not going solve any problems, nor convince each other of anything, during a debate at Comicon. It’s for fun. It’s for spectacle. It’s so Ted can feel better because now HE’S been invited to an important panel too.

    If the only thing this panel does is get more discussion and attention on cartooning in general then we all win. So let’s just get into the spirit of a good fight and enjoy it without pointing out how pointless it is. We know how pointless it is.

    Scrabble is pointless, but it’s still a fun way to spend a Sunday and we all might learn a new word.

    Alan, are you going to be in charge of contacting San Diego about this?

  45. Food for thought …

    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.

    To support a “good” fight where both participants and the audience are aware that theyâ??re not going solve any problems, nor convince each other of anything.

    Cue the Sesame Street song, “One of these things doesn’t belong here …”

  46. I’ve enjoyed this whole debate, but I think it all misses the real point…content is king.

    We create a product that is consumed and is no different from any other product. We try to create a product that the public is willing to pay us for and THEN we find a distribution method for that product. The traditional distribution method, for better or worse, is disappearing so the cartoonist must find a new method.

    The core of the debate seems to be that one of these new method’s, the free distribution of our product on the web, is somehow contributing to the demise of the current cartoonists income stream and is also creating a model that leaves the cartoonist with limited income earning potential. This remains to be seen.

    In the end the public will pay for our content if it’s worth it to them. All the internet is doing is allowing more people to try and fail that otherwise would have been weeded out through the syndicates via the editors. I like this system better because instead of an editor deciding your fate you allow the public to decide, which is the way it should be. As a result we are seeing niche markets open up as well as innovation that we never would have seen before allowing the cartoonist greater creative freedom. The downside is that the cartoonist now takes all the risk and does all the work, but we also reap all the reward.

    Consumers will pay for our product if it is worth it to them no matter what the distribution method.

  47. Shawn,

    That’s along the lines of what I was thinking, with the exception that there isn’t the casual exposure to comics that once existed.

    People picking up “Women’s Day” or even “National Enquirer” would find a comic in there somewhere (and the Enquirer paid pretty well). Those customers may not buy a book of your material, but they wind up reading a comic they would otherwise never read.

    Popular sites about cars, travel, sports, etc. could all be peppered with comics and they aren’t. On the web you have to be a person interested in comics and specifically search them out.

    I don’t like that as much.

    There’s been some pretty funny stuff in Parade recently. I wonder how many people who threw away the comics section of their paper wound up reading those.

  48. Stephen,

    This is an exciting time for communication. The internet is finally starting to live up to the hype of the late 90’s before the dot com bust. Once we get a viable digital content distribution device, which I think is right around the corner and will be based on OLED technology, the sky is the limit.

    The newspaper will be able to make the needed jump to digital allowing it to provide up to the minute reporting which it now lacks and is a big reason for it’s decline.

    Magazines will be able to deliver dynamic content that goes far beyond the printed word. Alan posted a link to a digital version of SI which demonstrates this.

    All this will inevitably draw advertisers and cartoonists are back in business!

  49. Scrabble isn’t pointless, it’s fun. Watching two successful cartoonists crap on each other isn’t.

    Any attention this “debate” gets will just continue to fuel the blind animosity that exists between a very vocal minority of print and web cartoonists.

    It isn’t fun and it certainly isn’t productive. It’s just plain sad.

  50. I don’t know about other political cartoonists, but I find myself utterly in awe of how “important” guys like Krahulik and Kurtz are. You just can’t argue with the fact that hundreds of thousands of gamer nerds hang on Mike’s every word on his website. Why, with just one blog post, he can mobilize an entire grassroots army of pasty-faced geeks to turn off the Call of Duty and venture out of their mothers’ basements to take to the streets. That’s power that silly donkey/elephant drawers can only dream of…

  51. Wow, Norm. You make excellent points. You’ve shamed us all. You’ve really shamed us all.

    Anyway, Alan. If you need info on who to contact about reserving a panel for San Diego just let me know.

  52. Abel those pasty faced geeks raised 1.5 million dollars for charity in a couple of months.

    Also I appreciate you bringing things back to the real point of this thread. That is, how important Scott and I are. I felt like people were getting a bit side tracked.

  53. Google, Bing or asking-one-of-my-gaming-friends aside: Who in the larger population CARES or KNOWS what an Illi-whatsis is, other than a bunch of DnD-obsessed dateless wonders?

    Point being: Cartoonists who dwell in the realms of elves, demons, wizards and what-all have no business criticizing cartoonists who occasionally employ an elephant or donkey to represent a political party. Remember: These are the images the parties themselves use.

    There. I feel better now and wish Mike the best in his endeavors.

  54. John,

    So does that mean Peter Jackson has no business criticizing other directors? What a ridiculous argument. Mike has business criticizing other cartoonists because he’s good and what he does and he can see bland, mailed-in when he sees it.

  55. That’s very commendable, Mike.

    I’d lead with that next time you decide to start a “whip your thang out” argument with political cartoonists over the relative social value of peoples’ work…

  56. Scott: Peter Jackson has the right to critique his peers (we won’t get into “King Kong,” though), as do you and Mike and whoever else, and that logically would include yours truly. Wonderful thing, freedom of speech.

    That said, and I’ll be accused of back-pedaling here: I agree with Norm that this is a silly and counter-productive argument. I wish all cartoonists the best in their endeavors; it sucks worrying about feeding the family doing what you love. So it’s aggravating to read the words of cartoonists who, for whatever reason, genuinely seem to wish ill on their peers.

  57. “other than a bunch of DnD-obsessed dateless wonders?” Pissing on Mike’s readers, rather than Mike, is kinda a dick move, right? Especially given that the only demo of younger people who read political cartoons are likely more educated, geekier, and more likely than the general public to know what a illithid is?

  58. No, Scott, Mike really has no business criticizing other cartoonists if he’s this clueless about their cartoons.

    For example, up above he’s criticizing Ted Rall for drawing donkey and elephant comics. It would make as much sense to criticize Rall for creating the X-Men or for drawing Mary Worth, because Ted doesn’t draw donkeys and elephants. Ted has been criticizing mainstream daily newspaper-style cross-hatched-like-crazy single panel donkey and elephant cartoons for as long as I can remember, and instead championed wordier, more simply drawn, multi-panel alt-weekly-style political comics.

    So, you guys are trying to talk about things that you are completely clueless about, and it’s embarrassing to watch over and over. You two are as clueless about newspaper comics as whoever it is up above is clueless about your dungeons and dragons comics.

  59. Does anyone else see the sad irony of a bunch of political cartoonists lambasting others for stating their opinions in a snarky, satirical manner?

    When you’re commenting on the president or Tiger Woods or 911 widows it’s all first amendment and “suck it up” attitudes. But when the commentary is aimed back at you everyone gets all sensitive about feelings and remind me to think of the lives affected. Suddenly I’m a ghoul for my killing newspaper tee shirts. Suddenly that’s not editorial commentary.

    Live by the sword, die by the sword guys.

    We’re allowed to state our opinions too. And frankly we do it much funnier than most of you.

  60. @Scott: “much funnier”?

    I’m a web/print hybrid, so if my “cute-animal-wages-war-on-Santa” storyline from last year is funnier than yours from this year, then we can all win!

  61. “Funnier,” indeed! Scott, do you *read* “your” strip before some 12-year-old girl chained to an iMac in North Korea cuts and pastes it into HTML every day? Competently rendered, I’ll give you. As for funny, the boringest donkeyest elephantist crap from USA Today beats that stuff.

    Back to a point, I agree with you, Scott. Political cartoonists have no business being thin-skinned. Guys and gals who mock the president ought to be able to take it. But, as Eric said above, it is frustrating to be mocked and ridiculed by people who don’t read your work. Criticism requires doing your homework. That’s why I listen to Rush and read Ann Coulter. For God’s sake, Mike, my archives are free going back to 1995, online like any good webcartoonist. If you can’t be bothered to go look at some of my cartoons (if you did you’d know Eric is right, I HATE donkeys and elephants, in fact I’m their biggest enemy) before talking about them, just shut up.

    Ditto for Scott and his statements about syndication. He says things that are just wrong, like that cartoonists give up their copyrights when they’re syndicated, and refuses to stop saying them when people point them out. By all means, mock and insult. But don’t just make things up.

    Back the bigger point, one I’d like to discuss at the debate: what *is* a “webcartoonist”? Almost every comic strip and cartoon is free, online, and has a website. Almost all sell merchandise. As far as I can tell, all there are are cartoonists. And cartoons. People sell them wherever they can. Seems like a weird, made-up, arbitrary distinction without a difference.

  62. Also, thanks for that, Abell.

    Watching that video of gamers walking into the PA convention was sad. Two million years of human evolution, struggling through famine, war and climate change, led to THIS? As a brilliant cartoonist friend said recently, we deserve to get hit by a comet.

  63. Ted, you’re not a webcartoonist because you don’t use the medium effectively. I can put my holiday photos on display outside in my garage, no one is going to come in off the streets to look at them.

    For instance, If I go to your site your front page has no content. Not a blog entry, not a column, not a cartoon just a short bio where you solicit work and some links. But you do have a PayPal button asking me to donate without me so much as seeing a shred of your work.

    Clicking on your ‘Cartoons’ link takes me to a completely different site ( not run or owned by you. I actually got a bit distracted and started clicking on some other cartoonists work and didn’t come back to your stuff for about 10 minutes or so. Same with the ‘Columns’ link; completely different site. Your ‘Blog’ seems to be just a collection of your columns and cartoons with a few animations and news items thrown in. Stuff I’ve seen because I clicked on ‘Cartoons’/’Columns’ first.

    The software you use for your ‘Archives’ section is far from adequate. I’d like to see your work from around the November 2008 US elections but I literally have to guess the page number it will be on to get close to it and then go through a process of elimination to find the exact dates. Searching for ‘obama election’ returned no results, I shit you not. I went to to look in their archive but oops I’m not a gocomics ‘Genius’ and can’t access archives older than 14 days without signing up for $12/year. Thanks but no thanks.

    The ‘Rallforum’ is dead, last seeing any activity in August. What does it add to your site?

    Your store is just a listing of your books in what I assume is reverse chronological order. And you only use Paypal which has a spotty record dealing with customers outside the US. What are the shipping options for overseas? Who do I contact if my order is late? No info is available. Want to buy a t-shirt? There’s a link all the way at the bottom to yet another extermal site ( this time).

    The ‘Goodies’ contain a link to your animated cartoons which I previously saw on your blog section.

    In short Scott/Mike are webcartoonists simply because they take it seriously and use the medium effectively to get their drawn work in front of their readers eyeballs and their merchandise and books in their hands.

    Throwing up a website and dumping your comics in an archive and then saying ‘I’m a webcartoonist’ are not going to cut it.

  64. All I ask is that nobody wear boxing shorts to the debate like Todd McFarlane did when he “debated” Peter David way back when. Yeesh.

    Then again, McFarlane did pretty well for himself, so who am I to say?

    Back then it was over creators leaving Marvel to do their “best stuff” for Image. I forget exactly, but it reminds me of the whole web/print thing for some reason.

    As Ted said, I really don’t see why we need to label whose cartoons appear where. They’re good or not-so-good no matter where they appear.

    And the lack of donkey/elepahnt stuff is what had me reading Ted’s stuff way back when, so I don’t know where that came from.

    You know what you boys need? Brownies! Would that cheer everyone up?

  65. Ted, I don’t know what you have against PAX, or if that was just sarcasm, but I was there in 2008, and I’d advise you not to knock it til you try it.
    The atmosphere of community and general good-will was almost overpowering. I made friends with people simply by turning to whoever was sitting next to me and talking to him. I went to PAX by myself, but I wasn’t alone as soon as I got there. When I left on Sunday, I felt inspired, I was walking on air. On Monday I flew back to Houston, straight into Hurricane Ike.
    Amidst this 2 week blur of no air conditioning, no water, no traffic lights, and waiting an hour in line at the one drive-thru that was open, all I could think about was how from here, we could go anywhere. That things were going to be OK.

  66. Most panels are too generic and bland. The Kurtz/Rall rumble will be most helpful if it presents a collision of concerns about the state of the business as it now stands, and then takes a shot at how things might work out over the next two or three years.

    Having two people coming at this with a personal ferocity could actually be a good way to expose some useful ideas. Get this down to facts on the ground, and how that ground is changing, and how you two personally intend to react to those changes.

  67. Scott, it’s bad enough that you’re not playing with a full deck, but you make it worse by trying to play the victim card.

    There is no irony in free speech defenders talking about how you say stupid things.

    As far as thick skins go, take a look in the mirror and judge your own thickness. In the years that I’ve known you, you’ve been one of the most thin-skinned, can’t handle criticism, wants-to-dish-it-out-but-can’t-take-it people I’ve ever seen. Every time you fail at something, you say it’s somebody else’s fault and lash out blindly by throwing some ill-informed tantrum.

    You wanted to be a newspaper artist so desperately that you offered to work for free, but you got failed miserably and got rejected and it hurt you really bad. So now you’re just the guy who tried out for the pee wee football team but got cut, and now you’re sitting at home screaming at your TV set, trying to tell star athletes how they ought to play the game.

    That’s pretty sad. Don’t get mad at us because we succeeded where you failed. Instead, maybe focus on those wonderful things you’re actually good at.

    Like let’s go level up some druids or something.

  68. Wow I guess the elephant donkey thing is a sore spot. I had no idea.

    Ted-Next time you get interviewed by the obituaries, I mean comics journal, you can tell them I also grind the bones of editorial cartoonists to make my bread.

    In reality I’m just jealous. Maybe some day I’ll create something as powerful as a picture of John McCain with the word liar written on his head.

    What’s the old saying? Those who can’t do, teach and those who can’t draw make political cartoons.

  69. Hmm.

    Lets take
    “Watching that video of gamers walking into the PA convention was sad. Two million years of human evolution, struggling through famine, war and climate change, led to THIS? As a brilliant cartoonist friend said recently, we deserve to get hit by a comet.”

    Swap out ‘gamers’ with ‘people’…..

    And swap out PA with ‘the RNC’…

    Huh. Still true.

    Ted: Gamers are people too. Gaming is a hobby. Maybe you should sit down and talk to some and get to know them.

  70. I love how so many of you ask us to do our homework and then the best insult you can come up with is “nerds are stupid.” Wow. Yeah, that’s some brilliant shit right there. No wonder you guys are all about to be out of work.

    Ted, I think Mike is aware that your comic is more alt-weekly than donkey/elephant. But since you were, like, president of the editorial cartoonists association, and since you constantly defend how wonderful editorial cartooning is, you’re getting splattered by his blanket statements about that camp.

    Also, I can’t believe I just had to explain that to you.

    I’m looking forward to the debate as well because it will be fun to clear up a lot of stuff like what the term “Webcartoonist” means. It’s kind of one of those words that gets applied to a lot of things. I guess the same as editoral cartoonist, eh?

  71. Maybe some day Iâ??ll create something as powerful as a picture of John McCain with the word liar written on his head.

    I wouldn’t bet on it.

    Do you read ANY editorial cartoons?

  72. Also:

    For the record, PvP ran in the Kansas City Star and a Philadelphia paper that I can’t remember the name of. it had just started. So TWO papers took my strip for free. TWO. So not none. Two. one more than one.

    I should write an article on about that time. It was so frustrating and sad. I got pinged by about 10-20 papers and I was so excited. I mean, for those many people to contact me just from a blog post. It’s not like I send out a sales guy or something. Most of them had fans in or near the editor responsible for getting new comics in. And they were all receptive. But each paper wanted something different and none of them wanted to run my URL.

    One paper wanted just tech strips. One paper wanted only relationship strips. One paper only wanted gaming gags. Nobody wanted to just take the strip as is. Only the KC star and the Philly start up said “Just give us the strip and do you mind if we edit out text that seems too much for papers.”

    One time the KC star changed Brent’s dialog from “God, I’m hungry” to “Man, I’m hungry.” No biggie. I get it. And it was fun working with those editors. Until it ended. My editor at the KC star left and the new one didn’t want to deal with a non-syndicated strip. And surprise, the Philly paper folded.

    Every paper that refused to run my URL had the same reason too: fear that someone would follow it back to my site, get offended at a blog post or cartoon, and send them a letter about it.

    Dear lord, if that revenue stream was my only revenue stream I would be as pissy as most of you guys. So I get it. I really do. You think I don’t. But I do.

  73. Let me add one last comment in hopes of bringing this thread back to some semblance of sanity. Cause we were having fun and then we went back to feelings getting hurt.

    Last night I went to bed at 5am. I was up late working. Not working because of a deadline or because of a huge heap of work that I just couldn’t get out from under. Working because I was enjoying it. I couldn’t stop drawing. I wanted to keep going.

    First I started working on some flash animations for our new gig over at Penny-Arcade. I was teaching myself masks and rotation tweens and motion guides. And the whole time I was giddy about the fact that my buddies have gotten to a place where they can offer me an opportunity to make silly animatics as a side-gig.

    Then I started free-forming a new digital mini-comic that I’m going to be selling for probably 99 cents through an iphone app I have coming out next month. I just had an idea and started drawing. and I couldn’t stop. I just didn’t want to go to sleep.

    99% of the time, this is what being a cartoonist is like for me. 1% of the time it’s worrying about this shit. Even LESS time is spent doing the really un-important stuff like appearing at Macworld. It’s an honor and it’s exciting for the day. But it really leaves a very small crater of significance in what will eventually be the overall impact of my work on the world.

    At some point, we’ve all been working at 4:30am, because we love it, not because we have to. Either literally or metaphorically.

    And I think if we remember that, while we spend 1% of our time sending barbs back and forth and defending our little forts, it’ll be okay.

  74. Why, that was very nice, Scott. Brownies for everyone!

    I was up until 3:30 am, myself. So I should tell my wife I was rotating my tweens (I think that’s right) at the computer again?

  75. In my continuing fascination with the possibilities that Yves Bigerel demonstrated:

    I spent a few days diving into the world of Flash and ActionScript. Not too bad, once you grok the logic of it. I started with this tutorial, and then built up from there:

    Yeah, Tweens… At least CS4 adds the motion splines, so it all is sorta on the surface now. ActionScript is still a challenge for me though.

  76. Scott, RE: “Dear lord, if that revenue stream was my only revenue stream I would be as pissy as most of you guys. So I get it. I really do. You think I donâ??t. But I do.”

    No, Scott, as your brother in webcomics, let me say, from everything I can see here, you don’t get it. If you think begging newspapers to publish your comics for free somehow equals a “revenue stream,” then, no, you don’t get it at all.

    If you think me, Ted, or any other successful artist published in newspapers over the last 100 years of newspaper cartooning has relied solely on newspapers for their income then you are just clueless beyond belief. Seriously, you cannot possibly be this stupid, can you? You cannot live in a world where newspaper artists also create books, t-shirts, calendars, radio shows, stuffed animals, films, greeting cards, Christmas specials, those suction-cup-things-on-car-windows, the damned Dilberitoâ?¢ and on and on and on and then think newspaper artists have only one “revenue stream.” If you think that, then that means you don’t get it.

    You are clueless on this. Watching you type out your uninformed criticisms and advice for newspaper artists would be like listening to my grandmother trying to discuss rap music or D&D monsters, other than that my gramma actually knows a thing or two about Eminem and elves.

    And to Mike and Scott who seem to want this to be some sort of best insult contest about each others’ comics, let me make it clear I’m not talking about your comics at all. I’m just saying that based on your comics criticisms here, it is clear that your knowledge of the wide world of comics is far, far below your knowledge of the World of Warcraft.

  77. Ted Rall: George W. Bush was educated at Harvard. While perhaps not fit to be president, he likely does understand the basics of human rights, even if his administration usually didn’t abide by them during the various wars he began. So, actually, he would probably be fine speaking about Human Rights. Perhaps he would explain his administration’s forgoing of them during the war?

    A better metaphor would be “Like Kim Jong Il speaking on human rights.”


  78. Eric,

    I have friends who are syndicated. We talk all the time. I know what’s going on. It’s not like I’m guessing. Nor have I ever claimed to be an expert. Ted claims I claim that. I don’t understand why.

    I’m stating my opinion based on the information I have. I’m not guessing. If you have multiple revenue streams set up, good for you. Smart move.

    But if you guys aren’t dependent on newspaper revenue, then what does it matter if alt-weeklies are dropping your strips? Why cry into your beer in Comics Journal interviews? Who cares? Just focus on your other streams.

    One moment the sky is falling, one moment I have no clue about your world and everything is fine, one moment you’re having a crisis of economy and faith and the next moment you’re claiming your worst year is better than our best year.

    You’re defending your friend, and I get that. I want to defend Mike too every time Ted tries to dismiss him as some worthless nerd.

  79. I don’t consider Ted Rall a webcartoonist for the simple reason that he doesn’t seem to even bother trying to use the medium in an effective manner.

    Go to The front page is devoid of content but there’s a Paypal button soliciting donations without me even seeing a shred of artwork. Want to see an editorial cartoon? That’s on another site ( Want to read his columns? Also on another site ( Want to buy a book? It’s paypal and domestic US shipping only. Want to buy a t-shirt? Off you go to another site ( if you can find the link in the first place.

    The archive software on is inadequate for a politically focused editorial cartoon. Want to search for cartoons published around the US pres elections? You have to guess which page you think the date you want and the find it via process of elimination. Searching for ‘obama elections’ returned 0 (zero) results I shit you not. Gocomics has an archive with date searching but it costs $12/year to see archives older than 14 days, so no thanks.

    The ‘Rallforum’ is abandoned, the last post there being in August 2009 with few posts before that. What does it add to the site at this point? The Rallblog just repeats previously published cartoons and columns. The ‘Goodies’ page contains the only content you’ll find on and nowhere else (I think), animated cartoons which should be out front and the first thing you see when you visit the site.

    In short that’s the difference between Rall and Kurtz. One wants his comic infront of your eyeballs and his merchandise in your hands with minimal effort and does his best to facilitate that. The other seemingly couldn’t really give a crap.

  80. Expanding on Eric at #81, actually MOST of the political cartoonists who comment most frequently on DC, and on this thread in particular (e.g. Ted, Eric, Stephanie, August), do consistently great work that rejects traditional political cartooning conventions like donkeys and elephants.

    So anyone who makes such generalizations to this crowd seemingly can’t be bothered to click on people’s names to the left before typing…

  81. Scott M., that Onion piece is a classic! And, uh, slightly accurate.

    Abell, by coincidence I arrived home to find my long-awaited Amazon order (never choose Free Shipping, it’s delivered by mule) which includes Ted’s first Cartoonists With Attitude collection.

    It looks great, but I’m just reading the introduction and on page TWO he writes about how the Donkey and Elephant symbols belong in the 1800s. Since this was published in 2002 I think I can assume that it’s not the first time Ted has said this.

    So you’re absolutely right, it’s too easy to lash out and not know who you’re talking to online. It’s like calling a group dorkwads when they are most definitely gaywads.

    I, of course, love both dorkwads and gaywads alike. Too many …. creative people I respect …. with radically different opinions …. causing CalArts flashbacks …. AAAAAH!

    Back to reading ….

  82. Although Chris Muir’s ‘Day by Day’ is at the opposite end of my politics, I gotta admit he does a pretty good editorial cartoon strip without resorting to donkeys, elephants, or labels. How’s he doing?

  83. I thought “Day by Day” had gone under, since I never see it and no one ever talks about it. But I checked, and there it is.

    Most (not all) of the conservative cartoonists, their credibility destroyed by sucking up to Bush for eight disastrous years, have had a lot of trouble adapting to Obama’s New Order. Those who remained independent/libertarian during that period seem to be doing much better (viz., Scott Stantis).

  84. Oh yeah and those liberal political cartoonists have really been sticking it to the Obama administration. . . talk about sucking . . . up.

  85. Yeah, T.J., people like Matt Bors and I have been so pro-Obama it’s just ridiculous.

    BTW, Scott, that cartoon of yours merely confirms the “kids, don’t try this at home” aspect of political cartooning that makes you think you can comment with the best of them. You can’t.

    Pointing out that gay marriage doesn’t harm the sanctity of straight marriage is something that real political cartoonists did years ago, many times, when the issue broke. And even the worst of those–and they’re baaaaad–were better than your effort. You’ve arrived at the scene of the would-be satire at least four years late and several humor points short.

    Political cartooning is a zillion times harder than jokes about video games. In the latter case, it’s usually enough just to show gamers that you know their cultural references to make them like your cartoon. Political cartoons have to take a new look at an issue and force people to rethink their basic assumptions. Not everyone pulls it off every day–I don’t–but at least they try. And they’re politically engaged at a time when it couldn’t possibly be more important.

    Perhaps this is a question for another time, but I can’t imagine how anyone can justify drawing about video games when the future of the nation and the planet hang by a thread.

  86. “Perhaps this is a question for another time, but I canâ??t imagine how anyone can justify drawing about video games when the future of the nation and the planet hang by a thread.”

    For that matter, I can’t imagine how anyone can justify leveling personal attacks at people when the future of the nation and the planet hang by a thread.

    Or how arguing on a comment thread can be justified.

    Or, to be completely and totally blunt, how you can justify DRAWING A SIMPLE CARTOON, political or entertainment based, does jack when the future of the nation and planet hang by a thread.

  87. People who are capable of making others rethink their basic assumptions seem to be far and few between.

    You also have to want to make others rethink their basic assumptions. If I’m Rosa Parks, and I have a real purpose, it’s worth dedicating my life to that effort. If I’m a cartoonist and I only have a couple of issues I feel passionate about, I don’t think I’m going to be that effective by raising a fuss all the time.

    I could do it, but I wouldn’t be good at it.
    You’re good at it, Ted, so please carry on.

    I introduced Pooch Cafe to my stepdaughter last night and we had a fun time reading. There are other purposes for cartooning and one of them is allowing us to step outside of this world and into another, just for a little while.

  88. No doubt, John, drawing a cartoon (simple or otherwise) is hardly a revolutionary act.

    Still, it should be obvious that raising consciousness about political issues helps lay the groundwork for revolutionary change. Getting people to think must precede convincing them to act.

    I can see how a political cartoon, or even a comment on a message board, could do that. I don’t see how cartoons about video games are anything other than a waste of pixels.

  89. Ted: “I donâ??t see how cartoons about video games are anything other than a waste of pixels.”

    (There is no snark intended in the following, Ted – I’m asking a sincere question -) Do you feel that way about any cartoon that’s not a cartoon attempting to raise consciousness about political issues? Are you saying that any cartoon that’s not helping to lay the groundwork for revolutionary change is a waste of pixels? Are you saying that if you’re not capable of politically cutting-edge cartooning, you shouldn’t bother? How can you not take out the “video games” in your statement and replace it with nearly any other topic in cartooning and not come to the same conclusion?

  90. Ted, you’re right. We should abolish all forms of entertainment in all media immediately until we have established global peace.

    P.S. A certain ‘waste of pixels’ raises over $1 500 000 million every year (probably totalling over $5 000 000 since inception) for children’s hospitals. Many other ‘wastes of pixels’ throw their full weight behind that effort. But you’re right that’s nothing compared to your efforts.

  91. Ted, you’re right. We should abolish all forms of entertainment in all media immediately until we have established global peace.

    P.S. A certain ‘waste of pixels’ raises over $1 500 000 million every year (probably totalling over $5 000 000 since inception) for children’s hospitals. Many other ‘wastes of pixels’ throw their full weight behind that effort. But you’re right that’s nothing compared to your efforts.

  92. In order to have resistance or revolution or any sort of social change, it has to appear in the culture first.

    The dominant culture teaches us that this way of life is the way life is supposed to be. Any other ideas and analysis have to come from a culture of resistance. That can include cartoons, comments on message boards, books, songs, whatever. These things strengthen activists and cultivate new ones. They set standards of thinking and behavior. They help people see alternate possibilities. They are essential for social change.

    Most political cartoons are of the loyal opposition. This is what makes them boring — they bicker about fine points but are basically on the same side, mirroring the republicans and democrats who are also on the same side (they both basically support the dominant system and have no interest in truly challenging it, much less overthrowing it).

    The political cartoons that have bite to them are calling into question the way our society is structured. It takes an experienced political mind to create cartoons like that. It takes someone who knows their history, and is aware of the major ideological dividing lines that are contending in the arena of social change.

    It’s easy to make a simple liberal (or conservative) loyal-opposition joke. It’s not easy to come up with jokes that might *appear* simple but combine in a body of work that forms a comprehensive social critique. Ted does this magnificently. Matt Bors and Abell Smith and a few others do this. They have well-thought-out world views that they have researched, struggled with, and care deeply about, and therefore they can make critiques that are not simple-minded. Most editorial cartoonists either don’t want to, or don’t care enough to make the effort, which is lifelong and monumental.

    A real political cartoonist takes politics seriously and is on a mission to change the world. That, plus a good sense of humor, makes a great cartoon.

  93. Scott K., I understand your defensiveness on a lot of this but saying that the cartoon you linked to was “better than any alt-cartoonist” with a smug self-congratulation is the best example so far of the over-inflated egotism that makes this debate pointless.

    I truly don’t see the purpose of this argument or this suggested panel because since I’m, quite sadly I admit, under the impression you actually believe this, then starting your position on the platform that you are quite literally better than everyone else who was actually picked up by a print editor kills any credibility it might have.

    I didn’t want to start a flame war here, but Ted beat me to it: yeah, as a joke about gay marriage, writing-wise, that strip was lame when Lewis Black used the gag in an album three years ago. And to say it beats any alt-cartoonist is an insult to Alison Bechdel, who has been drawing fantastic and award-winning cartoons about gay rights issues since before you even started PvP.

    But ultimately I don’t think that matters to you, if you’ve even read Bechdel’s work to begin with. Or Jen Sorensen’s, or Keith Knight’s, or Matt Bors’, all of whom appear in alt-weeklies with work that any impartial observer would say exceeds that particular strip you linked to in humor and political insight. But even if you have heard of these people, I don’t think you care. I don’t think you are actually interested in criticism from this field of cartooning because you are adamant on dismissing it in its entirety. For someone with such amazing success online and within parts of the industry, your dismissal and condescension toward people who succeeded in the newspapers seems to give a clue as to what this might really be all about.

    You’ve done great commentary cartoons- “Ombudsmen” and its parodies on syndication is noteworthy- and yet you triumphed this gay marriage cartoon for reasons I can’t fathom. Speaking as an editorial cartoonist- something I’m sure you’ll dismiss because yeah, I suck and papers are dying and I don’t have my own convention- that strip of yours proves that yeah, anyone can make a lousy editorial cartoon.

    I know for a fact that you can make ones that aren’t, and truly wish you would actually show some respect to the people who also do that, and do it every week. But anyway, yeah, that’s me criticizing the strip you offered up. Given the last few days of you criticizing everyone else’s, I think your willingness to take what you dish out will reveal just how useful this proposed panel will end up being.

  94. Seeing what was written while I posted that load, I would be a hypocrite to not respond to the other end:

    Ted, it’s just as dismissive to attack a strip as bad because it’s a subject you don’t like or care about. And understanding what a cartoonist does and knowing their work goes both ways. Calling PvP a “strip about video games” ignores about 99% of the strip. It’s a strip about people who work at a video games magazine, and focuses mostly on those characters’ lives and interactions. Penny Arcade, in contrast, is actually an editorial cartoon itself- something I’m sure Mike K thinks I’m a dick for saying, but it really is. You can make an editorial cartoon about something other than politics.

    It’s not easy to make a webcomic. Or a comic about video games/pop culture/etc. I’ve never had success with it. It’s not easy to make a newspaper comic. Scott didn’t succeed on that front. That doesn’t make either one of them suck.

    I had a critical opinion of one particular strip Scott linked to; not a blanket assessment of his cartoon or webcomics/gamer comics in general. Is there even a remote chance some kind of discussion is possible where people explain their successes in their field instead of telling the other side why they’re failures?

    I really don’t know what else to say here… I got pissed at something Obama did this week, and I’m glad there were editorial cartoonists to offer commentary that perhaps affected that discussion. I played my XBox this morning and am glad people offered commentary about a video game that inspired the sequel to be better. I don’t have the power to convince people who favor one over the other that the other is more important, I can only hope people think I said something relevant.

  95. @kelly and stephen

    There’s nothing wrong with being entertained or making something entertaining, or having fun and ignoring the world’s problems for a little while, if it’s to re-group and rest from the task of saving the world from being destroyed and/or working for social justice.

    If one makes strictly apolitical entertainment their life’s work and the main focus of their energy, at this particular time in history, that’s inexcusable.

  96. “If one makes strictly apolitical entertainment their lifeâ??s work and the main focus of their energy, at this particular time in history, thatâ??s inexcusable.”

    That’s something that could be said at any particular time in history, Stephanie. Artists across the world do and have been doing this very thing (making apolitical entertainment their life’s work), in even more tempestuous times than these and the world would be a poorer place without their efforts.

    It could be, though, that your idea of “apolitical entertainment” and mine differ.

  97. Guys, I was “triumphing” the gay marriage cartoon as a joke. I’m not an editorial cartoonist. I barely understand my own opinions and I’m terrified that if I attempt anything but just making people laugh I’ll come off looking stupid.

    I’m in it for the chuckles. I honestly and sincerely implore you all to watch the first two episodes of the Pennny-Arcade show that’s hosted at This is really what we’re all about. Look past the large crowds and the success and you see two guys, making funny jpgs that make people happy. And that’s enough for them for now. Me too.

    I’m making it my new years resolution not to get into any comment fights on forums. So it’s going to be the year you can lambast Kurtz and not worry about him coming back. Which means I’m running out of time and you won’t hear more on me concerning this subject unless you ask me in person.

    I think that any cartooning gets crappy when the aritsts get lazy. I think that there are a couple of syndicated guys who’s work I really adore right now. Foxtrot, Cul De sac, Get Fuzzy…these are strips I just love, with cartoonists working on them I admire. Bill and I talk all the time. We get what each other does. We understand the realities of each other’s job and revenue. We get along is what I’m saying.

    So I just want everyone reading this to know that it’s possible and probable for me to get along with print cartoonists. I’m a print cartoonist.

    The difference is that Bill treats me as an equal. He treats me has a person. And he listens to what I have to say because he’s genuinely interested and not afraid of me I guess. I don’t always get that here but I would have liked to more.

    In the end, I guess I did come to terms with Wiley. We exchange very nice emails now. I think off this website, he’s a very different person.

    I think off this website we’re all very different people. And I think that we’ve kind of turned this place into a poison. I know I’ve contributed.

    Anyway, I’m removing myself from the ARGUING for at least 2010 on forums and comments. So it’s been fun. And I think we’ll have fun at the 2010 SDCC panel. It’s not stupid. I think Ted and I both understand that it’s important we show up for a spirited debate with a smile on our face to entertain and afterwards we’ll get a beer and slap each other on the back.

    Happy new year to everyone. Steel yourself for 2010. I think it’s going to be a big year for cartooning.

  98. Perhaps they do differ, Kelly. And I can appreciate and enjoy art that’s not political.

    But I’ve asked myself, how do I judge those Germans who didn’t find some way to resist the Nazis? Many, many people found all sorts of ways to resist. I believe that those who didn’t try, were complicit.

    Then I connect that to now, when people are being massacred and tortured, more than a hundred species are going extinct each day, and the very ability of the planet to support most life is being destroyed. If we don’t try to stop these things, aren’t we complicit too?

  99. Stephanie, I agree.

    “Many, many people found all sorts of ways to resist.”

    True. Some artists choose not to do it through their art, and I think that’s ok.

    I join Scott in wishing everyone a most happy and prosperous New Year, and many happy returns of the day.


  100. Hey Scott, Ted, and anyone else I may have missed above: It’s so awesome to see your big love for me bringing us all closer together! — if for no other reason than the avoid the inevitable rioting during Alan’s proposed Comicon debate over “Eric Millikin: Hot or Not?” Because if in this thread “Team Eric’s Mustache” and “Team Eric’s Sideburns” can put their manscaping philosophical differences aside and come together like this, then it gives me a little hope for peace on our planet. Happy New Year!

    Scott, you asked me why it matters if newspapers drop artists’ work. Here’s why it matters to me, can’t speak for anyone else, though Stephanie says somewhat similar things above:

    Because I am an artist out to improve the world, it is important to me to reach as broad an audience as possible This includes people I might be trying to sway who disagree with me so vehemently they’d never visit my website or hang one of my paintings over their couch, and includes people in the highest reaches of power. If a major metro newspaper runs something of mine, I get fan mail from state governors and U.S. Reps holding it up on the floor of congress. Or if I do a big piece on how the mayor of a major city has broken the law, I can be sure the county prosecutor and the state attorney general and the mayor and his legal team all see it because they’ll hold up the paper at their press conferences while the mayor goes off to jail. So that’s why I’d care if newspapers were dropping my stuff; I’d lose some of those eyeballs that allow me to affect change.

    But your question was framed around money. “If you have multiple revenue streams set up … what does it matter if alt-weeklies are dropping your strips?”

    Let me first say our economic system sucks and greed is not good. But since you’ve got your mind on your money and your money on your mind, I’ll explain this, even though it’s so simple I feel silly explaining it. This is seriously math so simple I think a caveman could do it:

    If an artist is selling their stuff 5 to 10 different ways and they lose one of those ways they just lost a fifth to a tenth of their income.

    Some people don’t enjoy losing tens of thousands of dollars per year.

  101. Once Nazis are brought up, all discussions are over.

    Yes, Stephanie, we’re complicit if we don’t stand up to people. That doesn’t mean that I have to use my worm and bird cartoon to stop Nazis.

    And you know what? If all I had to read was political commentary I’d shoot myself.

    Getting a little bit weird, here.

  102. “But Iâ??ve asked myself, how do I judge those Germans who didnâ??t find some way to resist the Nazis? Many, many people found all sorts of ways to resist. I believe that those who didnâ??t try, were complicit.”

    LOL!! Do you read any history? Resistors were mostly TORTURED to find other resistors and then they were KILLED.
    Their OWN CHILDREN would turn them in, how’s that for irony…
    Those who “didn’t try” were those who wanted to live another day, damn them to hell, right? Yeah, “many many found all sorts of ways to” die. But please, continue to condemn people who lived in a no-win situation, continue to condemn them for not dying like a good German… Ugh.

  103. There’s a lot here, and I just want to say that this thread is exactly why being a cartoonist is so fun–you get to have interesting discussions and debates with people a lot smarter than those I went to junior high school with. Scott, I definitely “get it” about your proposed debate in San Diego; it’s not a blood match. We all care about comics. It’s about talking about things that we need to talk about, stimulating discussion that may spark new ideas. I also want to wish everyone a Happy New Year and best wishes for a productive and prolific 2010. Even if writing dates like “1-4-10” just looks weird.

    @Dave, Asking Stephanie McMillan whether she reads “any history” is like asking the governor of California whether he’s ever been to a gym. Stephanie has forgotten more history, political theory and philosophy than most of us will ever know. You would know that if you read her comics and her writing, which you should simply because they’re great and unique, and also because you look foolish when you question her on something like the ethics of Germans living under Nazi rule.

    Stephanie can no doubt speak for herself, and better than I, but as a history student I’ll say that most ethicists consider the dilemma of those living under despotism to be akin to the one posed by Sartre’s “Notes on Ethics”: A man points a gun at your head. He puts another gun in your hand. He orders you to shoot someone else; if you don’t, he will shoot you. What’s the correct decision?

    Sartre’s answer, and I think he’s right, is to tell the guy holding the gun to your head to go to hell, and let him shoot you. The point is, it is unethical to participate in oppression, or to tolerate it (as all Americans do vis-a-vis, for example, Guantanamo) tacitly.

    In the case of those Good Germans, the ones who didn’t try, they were evil. Not big evil, like Himmler. But not little evil, like not returning a book to the library. Evil. They should have tried, even if meant death. So should we.

  104. Wow. If you want excuses to passively accept atrocities, Dave, I’m sure there are many out there.

    And Stephen, if mentioning WWII is off limits to you, then insert any other genocide you want into the argument.

  105. I thought the best part about Dave’s post is that he thought it was necessary to capitalize ENTIRE WORDS so that we could ALL better grasp THE horrors OF Nazi Germany. Until I saw it capitalized, I never realized Nazis killed people before!

    So from now on, to keep things in proper perspective, let’s all vow to write about genocide using font sizes which are proportional to how many millions were killed.

    At the very least, this will make our comics done in 6 million point Helvetica far more readable then the zero point Times New Roman comics of Holocaust deniers.

  106. > They should have tried, even if meant death. So should we.

    This is an unbelievably hypocritical position to maintain, as long as you are not actively risking your life. You are a cartoonist, not a freedom fighter.

    Stop pretending that your habit of illustrating your political beliefs, as valid as they might be, somehow elevates you to the level of the White Rose group and above your fellow commercial cartoonists.

  107. > I�. I kind of want to talk about video games all of a sudden.

    Yeah, talking about video games makes you literally a Nazi, here. Talk about how much of a war criminal everyone on the western hemisphere is or face the Nuremberg Trials.

  108. @Kelly:

    (There is no snark intended in the following, Ted â?? Iâ??m asking a sincere question -) Do you feel that way about any cartoon thatâ??s not a cartoon attempting to raise consciousness about political issues? Are you saying that any cartoon thatâ??s not helping to lay the groundwork for revolutionary change is a waste of pixels? Are you saying that if youâ??re not capable of politically cutting-edge cartooning, you shouldnâ??t bother? How can you not take out the â??video gamesâ? in your statement and replace it with nearly any other topic in cartooning and not come to the same conclusion?

    What I’m saying is that video gaming is the absolute lowest priority I can think of.

    Gaming is even less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than watching sports, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than watching television sit-coms, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than movies, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than reading blogs, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than reading magazines, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than reading books, and so on. In a world filled with empty distractions, video games are the lowest circle of hell.

    So sure, there’s room for apolitical cartoons. Lots of them. But cartoons about gaming? Why?

  109. I, too, enjoyed Inglorious Basterds.

    (@ Tom Wood: That made me laugh. Thanks.)

    And once again, thank the Nazis for fully and completely derailing a thread. Ah, Macworld! That’s right… I’ve never been to one, but I’ve always thought it sounded like fun. And Kevin Smith will be there this year, too!

  110. “Stop pretending that your habit of illustrating your political beliefs, as valid as they might be, somehow elevates you to the level of the White Rose group and above your fellow commercial cartoonists.”

    In those circumstances, Ted would have unquestionably been part of the Resistance.

    Speaking out against those in power always requires courage — if/when a clampdown ever begins in earnest here, intellectuals and artists are going to be among the first to be targeted. They always are.

    Standing against oppression does, in fact, elevate Ted (and anyone else who does this) above a strictly commercial cartoonist. Their work matters more.

  111. Ok – thanks, Ted. While I’d re-arrange the order of your list somewhat, I see what you’re arguing. I’m not going to argue it with you, but I see what you’re arguing.

    I think.

  112. “Their work matters more.”

    I’m glad you’re not in charge of the Ministry of What Matters.

  113. Fun is awesome. I like fun. I find fun…fun. Fun–it’s the fun to have when you’re in the mood for fun!

    But does it matter as much as trying to build a better world? Of course not.

  114. Sorry, if you think your expression of political opinions affects the real world to a larger extent than, say, Penny Arcade’s charity efforts, you are deluding yourself.

  115. “Heaven forbid anything that affects the real world gets elevated over the supreme importance of being amused and entertained.”

    lol – honestly. Relax, Stephanie. It’s a conversation, not a fight. But try this: I’m not for you or anyone else deciding which is more important than something else for someone else.

    And just to be a prick, what is it you’re saying affects the real world? Yours or anyone else’s cartoons of any kind? I’d say that’s a stretch. Having content that relates to current political events, sure.

  116. This is why the Internet is stupid: People ask you to redefine and reargue stuff that everybody already knows.

    If you don’t know how and why political commentary can impact the world, you need to get out more. I suspect that you know why. You’re just talking smack to waste time.

  117. Actually, Kelly, I’ve had many readers write to me to say that my work has made them stronger activists or encouraged them to intensify their own work. I love that. That’s why I do this.

    Also… one of my cartoons set off hundreds of angry calls to a senator, helped his bill to ban abortions not get passed, and raised money for women’s health clinics. That was my most successful one. I keep trying to compose a hit like that again.

  118. *Your* political commentary does not necessarily impact the world just because *some people’s* does.

  119. That’s true, Benjamin. But I’m trying. All decent political cartoonists try.

    Like Stephanie, I have received direct feedback from people, including politically powerful people, talking about how my work changed their political outlooks. My cartoons have been discussed by the President. They’ve been used in debate on the floor of Congress. They have inspired legislation, some of which has passed and become law. I can’t even begin to imagine the impact of a more prominent political cartoonist like Tom Toles, whose work outraged the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    I don’t think there’s a political artist out there who can’t tell similar stories.

  120. I’m sorry if you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, Stephanie. Many forums joke about somebody going off on a tangent, bringing up the Nazis and effectively derailing the conversation. Hence, “Once the Nazis are brought up, the discussion has ended”.

    I’m not a part of any resistance or watchdog group and obviously have no influence over political figures. Those of you who do have that ability, congratulations! Let Ted be Ted and Stephanie be Stephanie. Thankfully you’re around and we have people producing good stuff that’s influencial.

    But to say that those of us who come from a different background should put on our capes and try to mimic your efforts is crazy. My career path was mapped out to be a Disney animator, for God’s sake. That’s a far cry from Editorial Cartoonist.

    Cartooning has as many different disciplines as Music, Fine Art, Writing, etc. and we’re not all going to share the same interests. And if we were editorializing, we all wouldn’t try to influence politicians the same way.

    I’m working my way through the Attitude collection, really enjoying it, and I’m genuinely in awe of the talent because it’s not my talent.

    Why waste your time putting down other disciplines as a waste of time? Only time will tell what’s a waste of time, anyway. I honestly believe many of the cartoons by the people posting here will long outlive them.

  121. 1. I love my elephants and donkeys
    2. I don’t have thin skin so please come early and often and tell me how crappy my stuff is.
    3. Happy New Year. I resolve to be less sarcastic next year.

  122. Ted, you wrote:

    [Gaming is even less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than watching sports, which is less meaningful and a bigger waste of time than watching television…]

    I disagree somewhat with your conclusion. Gaming in and of itself is pretty much a waste of time in that it doesn’t produce anything useful. But I have observed some meaningful results from gaming by watching the surprisingly fast evolution of the human mind in each succeeding generation.

    Example: When I was a kid, I used to be really good at Nintendo and Sega. My parents and older siblings could not beat me no matter how hard they tried. Their minds were just not quick enough or coordinated enough, or organized in such a way where they could work the controls properly. Coincidentally, my son was exponentially better, quicker and more coordinated at it than me. I can’t beat him at Halo or Madden. I get lost in the Virtual World while he knows exactly where he is at all times. Now young kids introduced to gaming early on easily kick his butt. They’re just able to think and act faster and in a coordinated way. As fast as technology is changing and growing, I think the one benefit gaming gives us is new generations who can think faster and actually utilize the technology we’re creating.

    My Mom and dad couldn’t figure out how to use their VCR or program their cell phones. and their parents? Forget it. I could go on, but I think you get my point. There are some redeeming qualities to things we consider useless, but in point of fact, it’s all part of the process and should be embraced.

    Who’s to say how useless gaming is if it advances the human mind or condition in a positive way we could not have foreseen? Scott’s doing what makes him happy and he’s able to make a living from it. You’re doing what you love and making a living from it. That’s all that really matters and the big picture is we’re all a brotherhood of cartoonists, wannabe cartoonists, fans or business people who enjoy cartooning and comics of all varieties.

    I’ve enjoyed reading this forum discussion very much. We all ought to be able to express our views on here without bringing up “the Nazis”, but at the end of the day I think Scott and Ted have found more middle ground to occupy than the fringes of the print vs online comics debate.

    2010 is going to be the Wild West for Political and Editorial Cartoonists being an “Election Year”. Thankfully we have some comics that are pure fluff and fantasy to distract our minds from the realities we must deal with daily.

    Okay, I’m done. Happy New Year to all! :O)

  123. World War II and the rise and fall of Nazi Germany was, after all, the most important event in human history. It killed more people, changed more borders and affected more economic and social and political reality than anything that had ever happened before. People who lived in Germany and under Nazi occupation had a unique opportunity to choose between good and evil, which is rarely such a stark choice. It’s only natural that we would continue to discuss this signature event of the 20th century and make comparisons between it and our present circumstances.

    The Internet “prohibition” against comparisons to Nazism–which Dave began here–part and parcel of the intentional depoliticization of our society. Sadly, the libertarian ethos of many online e-vangelists drives this movement against thought.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  124. @Stephen,

    You’re right, we all have different paths, talents, inclinations, interests. And as I said before, fun and diversions are necessary. They’re what make life a pleasure instead of a slog.

    I wouldn’t be so insistent on the need for more political work if there was already more of it out there. The world is being killed, and yet there’s this prevailing view that art should be non-political, or that we don’t need political art. It makes no sense, and indicates a denial about our situation that runs very deep. I find it terribly frustrating.

    If most art dealt with reality, and if we had a strong culture of resistance, then I wouldn’t complain about non-political art or even care what other artists chose to focus on. What I can’t stand is this culture’s overall insistence on all-fun-all-the-time, and the sad unwillingness of most artists to use their talents for doing more meaningful work.

    I feel so strongly about this since we’re facing a convergence of environmental catastrophes that could wipe out a lot of the life on this planet. I guess for those who don’t believe that, then it’s okay to fritter away their time and energy doing whatever is most fun (though that means ignoring countless other catastrophes and atrocities like war, torture, blah blah blah).

    But for those do see it, or even suspect that it might be true, then I don’t understand why they wouldn’t dedicate themselves to doing whatever they possibly could to stop it. It doesn’t have to be through art, obviously. ANY activity will do to start with. Something. But for many artists, I would think that what would make the most sense is to use their life’s focus, their art, as their method of action.

  125. @Stephen,

    I forgot to say, since you mentioned Disney, that “pure entertainment” is actually political too. A work of art centered on entertainment and escapism is actually a strong gesture of support for the status quo.

    So even “non-political” or commercial artists are not off the hook. They’re affecting the consciousness and actions of their audience as much as overtly political artists are. They’re pacifying them and discouraging change.

    And that’s why I think focusing on “pure entertainment,” given the world’s predicament, is inexcusable. Because it *is* taking a side — the side of passivity.

  126. To be fair, the reason people started rolling their eyes at the Nazi analogy is because it was so overused it got to the point where people were bringing up Nazis when defending their favorite soft drink.

    I wouldn’t say Avatar or Wall-E were apolitical, quite the opposite. Old Charlie Brown strips often carried a strong message. Lucy was yelling about overpopulation in the 50s.

    You’re right, Stephanie, there’s definitely not enough strong opposition to the status quo. You are not talking to a hands-off kind of guy.

    I was involved in the last election more than ever. I’m also the guy who got fired from a job while trying to unionize the workers (they’re union now) and drew a lot of cartoons involving unions. I’m also the guy who didn’t want to take driver’s ed in 1985 because I was convinced that automobiles were destroying the planet. I didn”t want to spend my career doing Smurfs, which was the big thing when I decided animation wasn’t for me.

    If Scott Kurtz draws a cartoon defending gay marriage using a joke that “was lame when Lewis Black did it” I would think that people would be grateful that Scott was introducing a perspective that would be read by some people who never put any thought into it. Besides, what’s wrong with speaking out for your viewpoint over and over? I listen to Lewis Black all the time. I’m going to hear that joke again.

    I’m not sure where all this is going except to say that people who write mainstream stuff do take sides and it’s very obvious in many cases (in Avatar, I’m told, it’s too obvious).

    Those that play video games constantly, watch sports forever, enjoy the Muzak in the elevator and generally have no opinions about anything drive me nuts, too. But I don’t think Scott Kurtz, Dreamworks, Pixar and many others are the correct target for your frustration.

    Happy New Year. I just woke up ….

  127. @Scott, No doubt, it’s cool when positive political messages get out there, even when they’re done in an unoriginal or trite way, like that PvP strip Scott K. touted or Avatar or whatever. I think most political cartoonists would agree with that.

    The trouble is when people who aren’t politically sophisticated, like Scott K. or James Cameron (if he would do this, I don’t know that he does), claim that the *quality* of their satire is better than the professionals (like Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, Tom Tomorrow, Stephanie McMillan, Abell Smith, etc.). Sorry, but Jay Leno will never be Jon Stewart and Jon Stewart will never be Lenny Bruce.

    Like cartooning in general, political cartooning may seem deceptively simple and easy. For those of us who take it seriously, however, it’s incredibly challenging. It’s hard to take comments like Scott K.’s (that he dashed off something better than appears in all alt-weeklies). Not only is he insulting, he’s wrong. And so loud while being wrong.

    Nothing wrong with amateur political satire. But there is a difference between that and the real thing.

  128. Will we be able to have fun in this better world we’re building? Will we be allowed to laugh and act silly?

    Does anyone see the irony in the fact that contributing to fun goes against the building of a better world?

  129. Ted, Eric, Stephanie, the sheer arrogance of the things you’ve said here astounds me. Never have I seen a group of people with such a bloated sense of self import.

    If that wasn’t enough, you talk down to others who simply wish to entertain, as if their profession is somehow less than yours.

    You are creators with sites that attract a tiny audience, and your presence in newspapers is a joke. Your successes are marginal at best, irrelevant at worst.

    You need to take a step back and think about what you’re saying.

    You have no class, no respect for others and no place talking about things you barely have a handle on.

    And before you ask, yes, I do Webcomics. My comics support a staff of 16 Full Timers, and 8 part times. 8 of those, earn in the 6 figure range.

    And yes, Ted, I’d be more than happy to show you my company’s and my own personal tax returns.

    Tell me, how much do you make?

  130. Yes because, as we’ve already established, the sole measure of “success” and the relative merit of one’s work shall only be the size of your audience, the number of people you have working for you, and the size of your income.

  131. Actually, Ted established that. He must have had that thought sometime after he begged the Nazi to pull the trigger and blow his uber-moral brains out, because clearly he put no thought into the concept…

  132. Ted, that’s exactly my point. Editorial cartooning (good stuff, anyway) is a very specialized skill. Why encourage other cartoonists to stop what they’re doing and start editoralizing?

    That’s like me coming to you and saying, “Children are the most important thing. You need to stop what you’re doing and become the next Dr. Seuss.” On second thought, I think I’d pay good money for a Ted Rall childrens book.

    The only thing I see taking the bite out of what you do is that the 24 hour news networks are filled with perpetually pissed off people commening on politics. It’s easy to dismiss somebody whose job description demands them to be in a constant state of dissatisfaction. What are they upset about today? Who cares? They’re always upset!

    I don’t want to be Bill O’Reilly and I certainly don’t want to be lumped in with him.

    On the other hand, Ryan, it’s not the size of your audience, it’s what you do with what you have. History is filled with creative types who weren’t read in their lifetimes, so it’s hard to say what comic will be forgotten the next day and what will still be remembered in 20 years (I realize that wasn’t your point, though).

  133. Well, this is wonderful then! First the legitimacy conversation was about the size of your income — NOW it’s about what social change you’re working to bring about with your art.

    Blind Ferret is funding a scholarship. xkcd is building a school in Laos. Penny Arcade’s readers have donated millions to hospitals (is it in the tens of millions yet, or is that next year?). So Ted, Stephanie — what will the new metric be in a couple months? Let us know early so we can prepare! Thanks.

  134. This is dumb.

    There’s nothing less important than if some guy sticks a ball in a hoop, or carries a ball beyond a line, or manages to run around a diamond.

    Yet millions of people watch, are entertained, live off, and sometimes make their lives around it. Unfortunately, yes, some people even lose their lives because of it.

    Sports are irrelevant. Art is irrelevant. Tug of wars are irrelevant. Are they life or death matters? No, but they make us happy. We have fun because of them.

    Ted, you’re suffering because you want to. Why does it pain you so much if a bunch of guys on the internet draw some crap? Isn’t the internet irrelevant and unimportant?

    I don’t get it.

  135. Get a job, you long-haired hippies and stop wasting my Series of Tubes with your petty arguments. I don’t care who put what where, now get off my lawn!

  136. Sorry for just jumping in here, I know this is not my place.

    I can tell you with out a doubt that I can count on one hand the number of people in my generation that I work with, went to school with, and converse with; that will never buy a newspaper. Ever.

    Why would we? We have the internet. People like Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub, and Mike & Jerry catered to us far better than you ever did. Your comics sit in a metal box outside the gas station. Theirs ride with me on my iPhone, laptop, BlackBerry, and home PC. Oh, and I don’t have to pay. In what world do you think you have any sort of case against them? They all did something incredible and, seemingly much to your disapproval, made a living off of it.

    Can’t you just stand back and say, ‘Wow. I wish I thought of that. Good job, and good luck.”

    Or is hiding behind a passive-aggressive wall just easier than being a man and swallowing your pride. Yes, we all used to get newspapers. Who cares?

  137. The idea that political cartoonists are on the cutting edge of social change is laughable, especially considering that these cartoons are read only by newspaper audiences (an aging and dwindling demographic at best) and even then only in passing while they flip through the paper.

    Scott Kurtz’s gay marriage comic reached an audience of merely tens of thousands, but we’re talking young internet readers who are passionate about his work and opinions. Anything Ted Rall has ever written/drawn about gay marriage issues reaches an audience of millions, sure… but we’re talking older people who don’t particularly notice, or care, what he has to say.

    Which has more potential to cause change? My money isn’t on Rall. Besides, you say you tackled gay marriage issues years ago? So where’s the sweeping change? Last time I checked, it’s STILL a big issue.

    Political cartoons were cutting edge social commentary a hundred years ago, perhaps. Not so much these days. But either way, patting yourself on the back about your imaginary accomplishments does nothing to help save jobs and preserve the profession that you love. All it does is inflate your own sense of self-importance and make you look like a pompous jerk.

  138. In an argument about social change, firsthand action always outweighs secondhand inspiration. I’m suspicious of anyone who thinks that the hearsay activism mentioned here is any more concrete in this world than the ventures Kris outlined above, or the many that have gone unmentioned, like Scott’s charity calendar to raise money for small villages in Cambodia ( or Dylan Meconis’ charity paintings for Heifer International.

    I can’t really fathom the disdain that’s being shown for the ostracized individuals in this thread, whether gamers or webcartoonists. It makes just as little sense as the disdain shown for “cartoonists” in the professional world. (I’m sure everyone here has gotten the “But what do you REALLY do?” question sometime in their lives)

    Cartoonists can do powerful good with their art, and even more powerful good with their influence and their actions. Gamers can do good as well, like The Speed Gamers, who raise tens of thousands for charity by just livestreaming marathon playthroughs of video games. (

    Don’t call yourself heroes for speaking your truths when other people are acting out those truths and causing more real change in the world.

  139. As a person who didn’t even realize that this was even an issue until about 10 minutes ago, I have to admit that I’m really surprised by the vehemence coming from some of the print cartoonists. Not everything has to be about “changing the world.” If webcartoonists like Scott, Ryan, and Mike can make a living off of what they do (and help quite a few people in the process), more power to them and I wish them nothing but the best of luck.

    As for the “waste of pixels” comment, I write a small (ridiculously small) webcomic about law school. I don’t earn any money off of it, and I have a readership of (maybe) 20 on a good day. Do I consider the work I put up a waste of pixels? No. I don’t go out there to change the world, and I don’t go out there to raise awareness of issues. I do it to relieve stress, and because I have fun writing the strips. Law school is stressful for people, and the comics make people smile. My comics make them laugh. If I could do that even for just a few people, to me that makes the pixels more than worth it. If someone has the ability to reach out there to a broader audience and make them laugh and, if only temporarily, forget about what’s going on in their lives, I say go for it.

    So people like video games. And people like writing jokes about said video games. People GET jokes about video games because people play them. Big deal. It makes people laugh, and it makes people think. In a world of stress, what’s wrong with these days?

  140. @Ted Rall:


  141. Ted Rall:

    Wow, I’d hate to see your thoughts on artists who do fantasy art or writers who write fiction. *smirk* Hate to tell you, but sometimes the only thing that keeps humans sane is stepping AWAY from the miles deep pile of crud our world has become for a few minutes. If all everyone did was be serious all the time, we’d very shortly be an extinct race because we’d all stress to the point we’d turn on each other much more than we do now.

    Perhaps instead of whining on about how web cartoonists are killing newspapers you should look at the bright side: the salvation of all those air cleaning and oxygen providing trees since newspapers are dying and not eating truck sized rolls of paper so much anymore.


  142. For guys who ‘only’ do comics based around video gaming, I found this particular Penny Arcade to be one of my favorites.

    Oh no, did Mike and Gabe far extend their reach from War of Warcraft to make a statement or message about society right now in it’s dependence on technology? But they also love technology too?

    Hm. Funny, and more satirical/biting than most of the other editorial cartoons out there. Considering that Mike and Gabe are ‘amateurs’ and almost all of their editorial cartoons lack any sort of skill. (oh wait, they only do video games, how silly of me, that I thought that this ~> was editorial in nature, but, then again, it isn’t because it’s a webcomic and they only feature humor on video games, which both are the lowest tiers in terms of cartooning.

  143. Hmm… this is an interesting thread to jump in to now, so far in…

    I’m not a cartoonist. I wrote a webcomic for a time, called ‘Vacant and Engaged’. It was pretty shitty, if sporadically funny and before we could find our feet, the artist and I stopped it due to ‘artistic differences’.

    I’d like to start by saying that, as an entertainer and artist, I disagree with the view that entertainment is low on the list of priorities for a society as a whole. Your personal priorities, sure, but you’re working in a field you love, you don’t require as much distraction or entertainment as, say, a production worker.

    Now, here’s a summation of the money debate, as I’ve seen it play out:

    Kurtz/Krahulik: We make a living.
    Rall: No you don’t.
    K/K: Yeah, we do. Look at all the stuff we have going on.
    Rall: But you’re not making bazillions!
    K/K: We are making a living though.
    Rall: Prove it!
    Sohmer: Okay, I will.
    Rall: It’s not how much you make, it’s what you’re drawing that matters!

    Not a great summation, I’ll grant you, but accurate to my reading of your posts.

    I’d personally love to see a Rall v. Kurtz debate, streamed please because I can’t afford to fly out from Australia, my webcomic didn’t pan out, remember? I’d also really like there to be a space for audience questions to be fielded (before the event, so they can be moderated).

    I loved the deriding of nerds, too. Think about what you are doing: posting a comment on an electronic forum, hosted on the internet, from a computer… You may not be one, but this is only possible, for better or worse, because of us.

    Now, on to the Nazi’s. I did like the reference to Godwin’s Law, but it’s not exactly the best place to cite it. The analogy was fair, it’s the support of the analogy I’m objecting to.

    One thing you need to understand about Nazi Germany was that a lot of the population didn’t know that there was anything suspect going on. Goebbels was a master at propoganda and, in the days before nerds gave us the internet and the powers of free speech (soon to be unavailable in Australia, thank you Stephen Conroy) propoganda was an extremely powerful force. It still is, but nowhere near what it was. Many German citizens were in a position to resist and chose not to, which was the wrong choice, but a lot more didn’t know there was anything to resist. To them, Hitler was a godsend who had resurrected their dying country after the betrayal of Versailles and the invasion of the Communists (a Nazi propoganda ploy). It isn’t a black and white issue, guys, it never was.

    Personally, I am politically active and have never found myself moved by a political cartoon, but maybe that says more about Rupert Murdoch’s influence on Australian print newspapers than anything else…

    And to follow on from Tony: If Mike, Scott or Ryan have any positions open… *big grin and thumbs up* I’m willing to move cities…

  144. I have to second what mr. Straub said. When I first heard of this web vs. print argument it seemed that all the arguments from the side of newspaper comics were about how they wouldn’t believe that webcomic people were making living wages unless someone posted identity compromising information. This thread seems to have backed away from that unwinable argument to one about social relevance.

    This phrase has become cliche, but ‘children are the future.’ While I am only a single 20 something, I am unaware of any of my friends and aquaintances even being aware of political cartoons as anything other than vestigial leftover from when papers where a primary source of information on current/world events. People my age are, from my experience, far more likely to form political opinions and feel the impetus for change from blogs and independent news sites. As it continues to fail in catching the attention of young readers political cartooning in its current form will continue its downward spiral until it has no social relevance at all.

    It is entirely possible for this medium to change and find new life by catching the attention of new generations. From what I have seen here and in threads like this I find it incredibly unlikely the artists in question would deign to lower themselves to do what they must for their art form and profession to survive.

  145. I once did a comic about quantum tunneling, so technically I’m higher on the importance scale than all the political cartoonists. See, quantum tunneling allows particles to overcome the infinite potential barrier of Coulomb forces, which produces fusion. Fusion will, of course, eventually power the planet and allow galactic travel.

    So, it goes:

    Me>Political Cartoonists>Regular Cartoonists.

    Oh, also, since Shakespeare was writing just for entertainment, I could phrase it like this:

    Me>Political Cartoonists>Shakespeare

    Thank god Value-ology is such a quantifiable science.

  146. @Tony Whenever I see people not doing quantum tunneling jokes, I think about how we could’ve stopped Hitler if there were more awareness of science. Lightning gun for example. That would’ve done it.

    You have to ask yourself what kind of cartoonist wouldn’t want to have stopped Hitler.

  147. I think it is super entertaining that the folks who don’t recognize an invocation of Godwin’s Law, a meme that’s been in existence since *Usenet* was relevant (and pre-“Eternal September”), are attempting to analyze the significance/importance/quality of online comic strips.

    Textbook example of pontificating about things outside your area of knowledge. Sheesh.

    For my part, I find the vast majority of Mr Rall’s work to be essentially the same quality as an average Fark political headline. Except that the Fark submitters can do what he does in one line, and without needing to draw little pictures. I think the main issue I have with his style is the “beating you over the head with the point of the strip” method of writing.

    This isn’t to say that I don’t think editorial cartoons can’t be meaningful. Rather, I don’t see what’s particularly special about Mr Rall’s work.

    I’m sure that this, as a result, makes me politically unsophisticated.

  148. “There are none so ‘Ted Rall’ as those who cannot see”…

    Hmm… Now how would I elevate myself above others?
    I think Ted says the best kind of cartoonists

    1: are more published.
    2: are more connected.
    3: have a larger readership.
    4: are more influential.
    5: have more experience.
    6: are more professional.
    7: are more progressive.
    8: make more money.
    9: value social commentary over entertainment
    10: won’t admit their social commentary IS entertainment.

    It’s funny, though, with all that ‘more’ and ‘bigger’, you’re looking pretty ‘small’ to me… LOL

  149. @Zach Yes! To be frank, any cartoonist who doesn’t want to stop Hitler makes me sick!

    (Excuse me while I quickly run to the drawing board to write up a quantum tunneling joke. I’ve done many worlds–but no quantum tunneling…)

  150. I’ve actually read cartoons from both Ted and Scott and enjoyed them variously.

    I have to say, as someone who was heretofore very unaware of this rivalry, that Ted Rall sounds pretty terrified. Rather like the doughy white men of Faux News and their reaction to the ever-increasing non-white population.

    As for Scott, I question the use of the term “work ethic” in the MacWorld description, but Scott obviously DOES have some interesting things to say about digital art, about self-publishing, and about the “free” business model. Which is what the copy promises.

    That Ted would go out of his way and come into this forum for (seemingly) the sole purpose of harassing Kurtz and his readers speaks volumes about Mr. Rall.

    I love editorial cartoons, and the death of newspapers will hurt because we’ll get less of those. But webcomics aren’t killing newspapers; newspapers are killing newspapers.

  151. The obvious solution is for everyone to become a doctor. Save lives, you can make a living on it (I can’t prove that), don’t even need to entertain a smidge. But don’t get me started on those web-doctors. %#$@@~

    I think my favorite posts above were by Pollak; they were a breath of fresh air. They also said what I was basically thinking: both sides have made appalling blanket statements regarding the opposition. I’d be lying if I said I I wasn’t offended when I was categorized as an evolutionary failure who should be destroyed by a comet.

    I think of the more recent posts, however, I’m more concerned with the “I incite thought/ change, and am therefore a better/ more successful person than you.” At what worth is a smile? Happiness? Belonging? Doesn’t that count for something? Ignoring the effect of things such as Child’s Play, who’s to say that PA hasn’t made someone happier, moved them to pursue something they love, inspired goodwill?

    Continuing the reasoning behind the original argument, does that mean that your work, your life is worth more than a grocery store clerk struggling to get by? Does that mean that a doctor is therefore worth more than you? That would be a ridiculous assertion, in my humble opinion.

    People who do political commentary well are needed. People who entertain well are needed. To say one is better than the other is subjective, unnecessary, and demeans you for saying it.


  152. For a bunch of people responsible for writing/drawing the funnies, none of you have a particularly good sense of humour.

  153. Let me go ahead and point at the exact moment where things just went crazy.

    “Stephanie can no doubt speak for herself, and better than I, but as a history student Iâ??ll say that most ethicists consider the dilemma of those living under despotism to be akin to the one posed by Sartreâ??s â??Notes on Ethicsâ?: A man points a gun at your head. He puts another gun in your hand. He orders you to shoot someone else; if you donâ??t, he will shoot you. Whatâ??s the correct decision?

    Sartreâ??s answer, and I think heâ??s right, is to tell the guy holding the gun to your head to go to hell, and let him shoot you. The point is, it is unethical to participate in oppression, or to tolerate it (as all Americans do vis-a-vis, for example, Guantanamo) tacitly.

    In the case of those Good Germans, the ones who didnâ??t try, they were evil. Not big evil, like Himmler. But not little evil, like not returning a book to the library. Evil. They should have tried, even if meant death. So should we.”

    Wow, do we look like ants from all the way up there? I don’t know about you, but if someone puts a gun to my head and a gun in my hand and tells me to shoot someone, I would make one of two decisions: Shoots him, because no one threatens my life, or, if that is not an option, find the fattest, ugliest, most useless looking person I can and kill him for offending my eyes because, in my own mind (and who cares about your minds?) I am the most important person there is. Those “good little Germans” did what any rational person would do.

    But some of us here may not be so rational…

    ” â??Stop pretending that your habit of illustrating your political beliefs, as valid as they might be, somehow elevates you to the level of the White Rose group and above your fellow commercial cartoonists.â?

    In those circumstances, Ted would have unquestionably been part of the Resistance.”

    Wow, really? Ted draws cartoons so now is super all super into dying for his beliefs? Non sequitor – it does not follow. As I have scrolled through these comments, I have become more and more convinced that there are no less than two certifiably insane people in this thread, perhaps more. Thank Buddha, Allah, Johova, and the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers that you people only draw silly cartoons and have no actual sway in actual politics, no matter how much you wish to believe otherwise.

    Whew, that felt good. And, like any person, I LIKE feeling good, so I’ll take stupid, nerdy video game comics or comics with crude sexual humor or comics about Random Girl A’s love life than elephants and donkeys.

    And yes, I know you don’t draw them. It’s an insult. I hope you take it that way.

  154. This thing is like a black hole. Too many folks have come by to read some of the comments and are being dragged right past its Event Horizon into oblivion. Take me for example!

    Ted, Stephanie: Congrats on your success! You are ever-so-slightly more important than me in your own mind. I’m going to go back to drawing my little comics that make folks laugh a bit and when I’m done, I’m going to help the mass pacifist conspiracy of silence that you believe I – in my merry making ways – is a part of.

    Crazy thing about the best social change – You don’t have to go around flaunting what you did to get points from folks on the ‘net. Those you helped will be more than happy to genuinely thank you in forums larger much than this. In doing so, you really cheapen the props that were given to you. The very fact you can’t see that is proof you’re blinded by ego.

    Now, I’m going to need you to comprehend this next part as Hard as you Can… Comedy has it’s place in the changing of the hearts and minds of the public.

    It’s the jesters that were allowed to poke fun at the ruling class without being killed. By laughing at the horrors of the world, you take away any power they had over you. Once gone, you are free to rise up and fight for what’s right and just.

    Seriously… If you can’t see that, I’m going to have to ask you to step aside and let us do our jobs. The funny folks set’em up so the political folks can knock’em down.

    You know, like Teamwork.

  155. @Stephanie McMillan:
    “Thereâ??s nothing wrong with being entertained or making something entertaining, or having fun and ignoring the worldâ??s problems for a little while, if itâ??s to re-group and rest from the task of saving the world from being destroyed and/or working for social justice.”

    Where, I ask, are you getting this entertainment that is allowing “important” people like you to regroup? If I choose to dedicate my life’s focus to “pure entertainment” which, as you pointed out, will allow others to re-group, how then is my work less important than yours? By your own admission, even activists need a break sometimes in order to continue fighting the good fight. If it’s helping you soldier on, how is it pacifist? Your sanctimonious attitude notwithstanding, the holes in your logic are manifestly ludicrous.

    Or, as my generation of nerds that Ted seems to hate would say: Lrn2debate.

  156. >>I love editorial cartoons, and the death of newspapers will hurt because weâ??ll get less of those. But webcomics arenâ??t killing newspapers; newspapers are killing newspapers.

    @Charles: Why does this mean we have to see less of them? This is what I don’t understand. Unfortunately it seems that in this particular thread, “editorial cartoonists” are interchangable with all syndicated print cartoonists…but that aside, what’s stopping them from putting their work online? Many of these same newspapers are moving online, not to mention the unlimited amount of blogs, news sites, political organizations, etc that I believe could benefit from some cartoons – political or otherwise – in their side bar. There is a golden opportunity out there for these people to adapt and reach a whole new audience, if only they’d take it! Alas, they’re too scared of change to make it happen. All we’ve heard is whining, venomous statements of moral superiority, and an outright refusal to accept help from the very people in a position to give it.

    @Stephanie: You are my least favorite kind of person. You align yourself with a purpose, but rather than act humbly as a servant of that purpose, which would make it noble, you make qualitative statements about other people because they’re not looking at the world through the same lenses you are. You don’t understand why others don’t do what you do because of the reasons you think they should do it? Wake up kid, there’s a lot in life you’ll just have to accept that you don’t understand. We all do. You’d be better off doing what you’re passionate about and let the rest of us be passionate about what we love. Don’t force us to “save” the world by destroying the very thing that makes it beautiful.

  157. @Ted & Stephanie:

    First off in the intrest of full disclosure here I consider myself a gamer, I am part of the gamer culture and I even go as far as to volunteer my time to help Mike K. out with PAX as an Enforcer and local Child’s Play events. If that single fact alone makes you think that I am biased on this topic or makes you dismiss me out of hand you are the worse for it, not me.

    Now, given the topic at hand and the fact that members of my family are and have been very vocal political and social activists in the past I want to honestly question your value judgement that video game themed comics/cartoons somehow inherently hold less value than those of a political nature.

    First off, as Stephanie so eloquently said, nothing is truly non-political, entertainment for the sake of fun is a means to calm the masses and prevent people from getting all riled up all the time, it has a political purpose just as everything else does.

    Second, as to the assertion that people who agitate, and I use that word for a reason, as immortalized thrice by Frederick Douglass, are somehow more valuable to society than those that don’t I say this. My grandfather was directly involved in the civil rights movement as an attorney who traveled to the south to fight for equal rights, he was at a church that got bombed, I am intensely proud of him and of the work he did. Do I value him and the work he did as an agitator more than I value the work done by Mike K., or Scott or Ryan? No sir I do not, they all have put the popularity of their so called lesser art to good use, they have bent it to mobilizing a very passionate subculture to do good deeds with institutions such as Child’s Play or the wonderful scholarship Ryan is funding. Add to that the fact that while they mobilize this very passionate force they also put a smile on my face nearly every day and I’d say they are ahead of the game. I find your flippant dismissal of them and the work they do sad, it makes me sad that you think that you can’t do valuable work and make people happy at the same time.

    Third, as to your assertion that you have influenced current politicians with your work to good effect I commend you. Those currently in power pay a certain amount of attention to the medium in which your work is currently carried. I have no confidence that when my generation reaches the seat of power, and that will be soon, I am 28 and some of my contemporaries are already in Congress, that the chances that this medium will carry the weight it currently does will hold true. I as the following as honestly as I can. Given that my generation utilizes the internet as its primary method of communication and learning, and I can’t foresee those generations that follow mine doing anything but using it more, how and where do you see your art holding the relevance and power it does today?

    I have a funny feeling, and this is just my personal opinion mind you, not based on any fact or claiming it as such, that a lot of your animosity towards some of the current web comic “luminaries” stems from the fear that the aforementioned question imposes. A fear that you might have to somehow “lessen” your art in your mind to drive people to see it. If that is true I am sorry…and I hope you will find a way to keep your work in the eyes of those with the direct power to change the world. All I really ask is that you don’t discount the value of the work that others are doing just because it isn’t agitation of the status quo.

  158. The sheer amount of arrogance and delusional self importance displayed by both Ted and Stephanie is amazing. To even suggest being an editorial cartoonist in the US in anyway makes you the equal of a resistance fighter in Nazi Germany is not only patently ridiculous but is a good indicator of just how far out of touch you are. And your argument that art or entertainment without a social message somehow lacks any value is equally inane. Do you only read books, watch movies, or view art that has a social message? If so, you lead a boring life. You smugly look down upon gamers, yet Mike and Jerry and their legion of fans (also gamers) have raised over a million dollars to effect change. That’s tangible and irrefutable proof of their social value and I challenge you to explain to me how that is without value.

  159. The morality that the editorial cartoonists are building their case upon is that education is a higher goal than entertainment. That’s it. They’re trying to educate people about things they believe in as true and valuable.

    The morality that the webcartoonists are building their case upon is that people are not reading COMICS to learn. Their fans are reading them because they like what they say and want that type of entertainment. The webcartoonists and I’d say non-political cartoonists in general, are merely trying to bring joy into the lives of their readers.

    Entertainment is consumed like food: you only eat what tastes good to you (screw you Anthony Bourdain and your ability to eat everything with a straight face and talk about it like it was an epiphany). No one who isn’t already politically-minded reads editorial cartoons habitually if they disagree with what they say. On the other hand, the more politically savvy and sophisticated a person is, the more sure of their political opinions they are, I assume. When was the last time you read an editorial cartoon about Bush that painted him or any of his policies in a good light and you changed your mind about those policies?

    So in the end, you’re both right. That education is more valuable than mere distraction, no matter how you measure it, both sides of this spat are agreed on this point. Now what you have to ask is whether it is merely EDUCATION itself, the filling of a curious mind, or whether it is the substance of that education that bestows a value. Scott is a huge proponent of SCAD and has supported an intern even though he didn’t have to. He and his friends wrote an educational book even though they didn’t have to.

    Scott and those like him also believe that the old model is dying. I’m guessing here but I think it is out of spite that he didn’t succeed at being a syndicated cartoonist (rejection, even by a dying system still sucks) that Scott sometimes doesn’t pull his punches when trying to dissuade people from looking for their success with newspapers; doubly so with a form of cartooning which he finds ho-hum and pandering (let’s face it, putting labels on things is like that scene in Space Balls when Colonel Sanders is explaining how they’re going to carry out their plans, thus summarizing the plot of the movie, and Dark Helmet looks at the camera and asks, “Ya’ get that?”).

    In the end you all express yourselves through comics with your own styles. In the end you all care deeply about your success and justify the paths you’ve chosen especially when you took risks to get there. You believe in espousing your views to other people and your comics provide you with either a direct vehicle for that or a financial means to support other vehicles.

    I will say this though: ask yourself if when you’re puffing up your chests to stake a claim on the high ground of “definitive success” (imagine a mountain climber astride a peak clearly labeled “definitive success”), who was more successful in touching lives: Mother Theresa or any of her myriad biographers? If all you’re doing is commenting on the lives of people who make a difference, be satisfied with doing it well. But don’t pretend that your commentary is anything higher because of its subject when it is still entertainment.

    [picture me stepping from a comically oversized soap-box labeled “long-winded internet rant” wearing a Spy vs Spy hat and sunglasses with a jacket labeled “internet anonymity” on to my high horse labeled “webcomics” and riding off into a sunset labeled “”…]

  160. To jump in as a consumer of comics, I’ll start off with saying that this whole conversation makes me feel immensely guilty for being one of those “good Germans” that enabled Ted Rall in the past by listening to his radio show years back, not knowing he’d be this vitriolic.

    I think one thing that is being totally missed is that you can be pushing for change without waving around a big sign that says “change this”. For example, plenty of webcomics have gay characters, or have talked about the issue. And many webcomics have audiances that are in their teens or twenties, and so with that sort of readership, and being able to portray an issue like that commonly without the odd focus that, for example, tv often puts on it, I’d suggest that they ARE creating some element of social change because they are helping to establish HOW people think about that.

    I’m a fairly political person, so I end up talking politics a lot. There’s only a handful of times in my life that political cartoons have come up in that sense. I’ve had one or two friends that have mentioned Day by Day strips, the Danish cartoons took large prominence because of what sort of protest they provoked, and I’ve been seeing a lot of the comics coming from Iranians over the current Iran situation, but I’ve never been in a situation where someone has otherwise brought up a political cartoon, or even just spread a political cartoon around so that I’ve seen it.

    In contrast, there are a lot of webcomics that I’ve seen directly effect people. An XKCD comic got me to become more comfortable with organ donation, and I’m going to be switching over to an organ donor because of it. I’ve had webcomics help me get through rough parts of my life, and I know several other people that have done the same thing, where webcomics have provided that sort of comfort, by presenting real world situations that help us to relax and get back to what we’re doing. Personally, I’d consider what I do, which includes teaching so that people better understand science and therefore learn how to think about issues involving science, to be a net good. And it helps to have outlets that allow me to relax, or better yet, comics with real substance that deal with what I’m dealing with both teaching and as a student, comics like XKCD, SMBC, and Piled Higher and Deeper. One thing worth keeping in mind… the majority of the people that are going to be saving the planet by figuring out alternative fuels, carbon recapturing, ways to improve efficiency of crops without harming the environment, understanding how the Sun is effecting Earth, and curing diseases are not the people that read political cartoons, they’re the nerds that play video games on their off time and read webcomics to relax. The nerds are going to be the ones saving the world, and they’re the ones reading all the webcomics.

    Which does lead to my other point, which is Ted Rall clearly doesn’t know what gaming is. This isn’t the PacMan era anymore. Gaming is social, and I think the strength it has that way isn’t something he understands. On one level, it means that people simply can keep in touch, and I think when people aren’t isolated, that allows for an overall better flow of ideas. I used gaming to help keep in touch with friends around the world. I’ve got friends that keep in touch with family that have moved because online games provide for a thing that they can still do together. Heck, some online games were being used to transmit information into and out of Iran following the election this summer as conventional channels were being shut down. This last part isn’t typical gaming, but its also nontrivial.

    It’s easy to look at your little world and think that many of the online comics don’t do anything, but in doing so, I think you’re missing what’s going on with anyone between the age of, say, 18 and 35, that spends their time online, not reading print newspapers, and is being influenced by the comics you so easily deride, yet still can influence change, and in a much more organic way.

  161. I think it should be pointed out that the first thing you see when you open Stephanie’s Livejournal page is a post from her begging her fans for donations so she can publish a book. Kurtz, Sohmer, and the guys at Penny Arcade have all published books of their comics without having to resort to begging. Kinda torpedo’s Teds argument…

  162. “The Macworld website has posted news that PvP creator Scott Kurtz will speak at this yearâ??s Macworld along with Chicago Sun-Times and Macworld columnist Andy Ihnatko. The discussion description:

    or the past century, succeeding as a writer or artist in the newspaper business required submitting work to syndicates and editors. Chances of success for slim, and your reward was a one-sided and often contentious business relationship. Now, all you need to build a career and an audience are good ideas, a solid work ethic, and your own website.

    Scott Kurtz is one of the most successful creators working under this new model. The world of PVPOnline, his popular Mac-produced webcomic, includes a daily strip with books, merchandise, and even animated cartoonsâ?ÂŚand a one to one relationship between readers and creator. In an interview with Chicago Sun-Times and Macworld columnist Andy Ihnatko, Kurtz talks about what digital self-publishing means to creators and publishers, and how devices like the upcoming Apple Tablet could continue to tip the balance in favor of independent artists.”

    Sorry, I just wanted to repost the entire news post down here to remind people what started all of this. It’s a lot of trouble to scroll all the way up through 17 hours of misery to recall what set Ted and his friends off again.

    Everyone knows papers are dying, but Ted and the lackeys have been stuck between the Denial and Anger stages of grief for awhile now. Could we please move on to Bargaining just to liven things up a little?

  163. Political cartooning, like all forms of satire, is a form of entertainment, and yes it can influnece people, just like any form of mass-media, just like advertising. Unfortunately, not being a US resident, I didn’t know who Ted was until Scott fisrt started talking about him. I’ve read his Wiki page, and I can’t see any mention of anything Ted’s done that has had an actual beneficial impact, political or social, either locally to the US or on a more global scale. Can someone enlighten me please? Until then, to me Ted’s just a guy who draws funny pictures, and that doesn’t make him or his work any more important or relevant than anyone else who does the same.

  164. Penny Arcade’s front page asks you to donate to children’s hospitals via Child’s Play

    PVP is selling a calendar where 100% of the sale goes to building schools (besides the effort it throws behind Child’s Play) in Cambodia

    Ted Rall wants you to donate to Ted Rall

  165. In fairness, the strip Scott posted was actually a fart joke, so his real nefarious plan continues almost unnoticed…

    Valuing art only by its didactic qualities seems a strange decision because you also have to consider what the thing IS. Hell, my own comic makes various points but will never work primarily as a point-maker because it’s a conglomeration of inadmissible genres (furry, adult, sci-fi) to the point that I don’t even directly link to it like most cartoonists can unthinkingly do…

    Yet if you create an artwork that stays in the mind, particularly if it is a continuing creation that contains its own worldview, the underlying tenets of that worldview will soak in and affect people. You’ve added to their experience. Your own maturity and compassion determine how coherently and usefully you’ve added to their experience. This holds even if you’ve sneaked into their life during their fapping hours. You cannot claim only political art affects beliefs- if anything, that didactic stuff so obviously tries to sway a reader that defenses go up.

    If people want to live lives on the level of pro wrestling, but without irony and kayfabe, they’re welcome to, but I’ve never noticed anybody like that actually affecting my thinking and beliefs. Compare all that hot air to a Terry Pratchett’s encapsulating very big concepts into ‘Sam Vimes “Boots” Theory Of Social Injustice’, where he creates a memorable character who’s like a person you know, and who then puts forth an idea (poor people buy many cheap boots, rich people can buy very expensive boots which last far longer and thus cost less over time, perpetuating the system) that is also memorable.

    If you really want to affect people, go with them into the places they escape to, and persuade them through their escapism.

  166. “Wow! Alan goes on Holiday and his site blows up with more comments than Iâ??ve seen in a while. Go figure.”

    Well, at the point when the gutless trolls begin posting anonymously, it’s probably time for him to come back, sort of like Mom and Dad coming home after the house has been trashed …

  167. Wow. If anyone thinks that cartoonists don’t have the power to incense or captivate, just have them look at this thread. All this on incomes, political messages, Hitler, Nazis, Disney, and syndication because it was noted on this site that Scott Kurtz is going to be speaking about his life experiences as a cartoonist and a Mac user at an expo geared towards Mac users. If anything, I’d think we can all agree that we have great imagination and drive to spin the conversation this far.

  168. I just scrolled through this whole thread on my Blackberry.

    Which now means I need thumb surgery…

    Which also means I will no longer be able to use that thumb to play videogames…

    Or use that thumb to click from sporting event to various sporting event…

    Thanks Daily cartoonist.

  169. Just a couple thoughts:

    it struck mr that the editorial cartoonists blasted “gamer strips” because, essentially gaming is not their scene. It is a niche market, this is true. When submitting to Playboy magazine, gag cartoonists cater their illustrations. When catering to the highlights, that is a different audience that an artist create specific wholesome work for. The idea of niche markets is not new, “gamer strips” just found a profitable home online. But Diesel Sweeties, Questionable Content, Octopus Pie, Hark! A vagrant are all decidely not gamer strips and all of those artists have one job, handle their creative property. PVP is also not a gamer strip as much as Fox Trot is not a gamer strip. They thrive on commenting on pop culture.

    Editorial cartoons have a niche market as well, newspaper readers. As you are probably coming to grips with, sucess in one medium does not grant you success in another. While you can tout circulation numbers as your “readership” you also really have no idea how many people care about what you do, at all.

    One final note: how a debate about draw funny pictures in a box for other people on the internet versus a piece of pulp became tangental to the horrors of Nazi Germany is laughable. Not funny like comic strips are supposed to be, but laughable as in just sad. It is going be a revelation to Mr. Rall if he ever stops preaching from the mountain long enough to notice how few people are there caring about what he has been doodling in his little boxes. Oh, and the argument that we should all read your work before attacking editorial cartooning as a whole is also funny: Isnt the bigger point that perhaps editorial cartoons are no longer a voice of social change to the masses if the general public doesn’t care about them?

    You are preaching about how significant your picture boxes are to America and no one here, a community of cartoonists, has even bothered to see what you think about the world ar large, because your opinions on your own field are generally poison and self-serving. I imagine your professional work to be Bout the same.

  170. @Thea: >>I love editorial cartoons, and the death of newspapers will hurt because weâ??ll get less of those. But webcomics arenâ??t killing newspapers; newspapers are killing newspapers.

    @Charles: Why does this mean we have to see less of them? This is what I donâ??t understand. Unfortunately it seems that in this particular thread, â??editorial cartoonistsâ? are interchangable with all syndicated print cartoonistsâ?¦but that aside, whatâ??s stopping them from putting their work online? Many of these same newspapers are moving online, not to mention the unlimited amount of blogs, news sites, political organizations, etc that I believe could benefit from some cartoons â?? political or otherwise â?? in their side bar. There is a golden opportunity out there for these people to adapt and reach a whole new audience, if only theyâ??d take it! Alas, theyâ??re too scared of change to make it happen.

    Um, what are you talking about? 99 percent of American editorial cartoonists have websites. So, when you ask “whatâ??s stopping them from putting their work online?” the answer is: most of us had websites before you did. I began using email in the 1980s. My website went up in 1994. When it comes to embracing technology, we are wayyyyyy ahead of you guys.

    You do make an interesting observation about the lack of editorial cartoons on political blogs. It’s kind of amazing that Daily Kos, etc. don’t have them–and the reason is, they don’t seem to want them. Everyone I know has sent them stuff and not gotten a reply. Maybe they’re word guys, maybe they just don’t want to pay, who knows?

    As for the rest of all this above:

    Remember who started this war: Scott Kurtz and his friends. He repeatedly insulted print cartoonists, even gloating when cartoonists got fired from newspapers and were reduced to poverty overnight, having to pull their kids out of college.

    Also, there ARE no print cartoonists vs. webcartoonists. For the 10,000th time, 99% of editorial cartoonists have websites.

    Finally: As Stephanie said, no one is saying that cartoons that are simply funny or silly are worthless. Both she and I have drawn many silly cartoons. We’re just saying that they’re not as *important* as attempts to comment on society and the world. Which is, frankly, pretty obvious.

  171. Ted, no offence but your website is crap.

    If I click on ‘Comics’ I get taken to another site (gocomics). If I click on ‘Columns’ I get taken to another site ( Trying to search through your archives at gocomics requires I pay $12 upfront to see strips older than 14 days. Yeah… I’ll pass.

    A new reader will come to your site, not see a single shred of artwork or writing from you but will be asked to make a donation. What a welcome!

    Your ‘Forum’ area is a wasteland and your ‘Rant’ blog section offers up little more than previously seen columns and cartoons. Your only original work for the site, your short animated cartoons are buried in another section all clumped together on a single page.

    If you think putting your comics in archive online makes you a webcartoonist then I can understand your disbelief at Kurtz and everyone else actually making money online. They take it seriously and they use the web as an effective medium to get their strips in front of readers eyeballs and merchandise in their hands. You don’t seem to care about it at all.

  172. As a Southern friend of mine told me when I drew a controversial cartoon, “the hit dog barks.” Nice folksy expression. And relevant here.

    For far too long, at least since the late 1960s, it has not only been acceptable to be disengaged from politics, but to be ignorant of current events. And not just acceptable, but actually cool and hip.

    Many of the posts above reflect discomfort with the fact that the times are a-changing again. With 21% real unemployment, a collapsing dollar and a crushing national debt that could bankrupt the country within a few short years, not to mention climate change moving so quickly that the human race could be extinct within a generation or two, Americans are finally starting to wake up. Not knowing what’s going on isn’t cool anymore. Spending all your time smoking weed and playing video games while the world blows up is something to be looked down upon.

    You can see that ignorance in, for example, Thea’s post jabove this one: “Many of these same newspapers are moving online”

    “Moving”? Every major U.S. newspaper has been online for at least a decade. All the minor ones are too. It’s pretty obvious that, whether online or in print, Thea doesn’t ever read the news. Which is frightening.

    Or when Jim Thomas writes: “Editorial cartoons have a niche market as well, newspaper readers.”

    I guarantee you, more people read editorial cartoons online than read them in print.

    Also, editorial cartoons have a far bigger audience ONLINE than game-themed strips. Mobile devices and the forthcoming Tablet are only feeding the appetite for editorial cartoons that can comment on a news story that broke a few hours ago.

    The big joke here is that “webcartoonists” (what does that term even MEAN anyway?) think they’re ahead of the curve, that we need to catch up with them, that maybe we have something to learn from them–when, in fact, the opposite is true.

    P.S. This thread reminds me of the online pile-ons I used to get in 2001, when I came back from Afghanistan and talked about how stupid and unwinnable that war was. Man, did the insults fly then! Funny, those people are quiet now.

  173. I disagree that social commentary is more “important” or effective in editorial cartoons than in works of fiction. Peanuts more effectively commented on 1950’s America than any editorial cartoonists of the time and is much more lasting. Fitzgerald documented the life of the 1920’s elite through his works of fiction. All work of fiction is a comment on something, whether or not you care about that comment does not make that less important to the audience that is receptive.

    If art is important the audience will decide it. The artist declaring their work more important than others is a desperate artist. If political cartoons are an important vehicle for social change they will thrive.

    And if editorial cartoonists are so web savvy and so ahead of penny arcade and pvp (You have been emailing since the 90’s) And your work is more important than theirs, why can’t you make a living online and they can? Just doesn’t add up.

  174. Also with regards to the archives on I’d like to see your work around November 2008 (the US Prez elections specifically) seeing you as an editorial cartoonist do work that is closely related to what’s going on at the time.

    I go to the archive. Can’t select cartoons by month or year so I have to play guess-the-page where I think strips from over a year ago will be.

    I decide to search for ‘elections’. Close to 150 results. I search for ‘obama’. Same number of results. Searching for ‘obama elections’. 0 results. I kid you not.

    You might as not well be putting your stuff online if you’re going to make it impossible for people to actually read it.

  175. And Ted stop playing the victim. You started this thread at comment four. So just stop blaming web cartoonists for your inability to not start a fight.

    Can anyone name One editorial cartoonist thriving on the web only? One. That has a charity, that has a following, that makes their primary income through web related ventures. Just one.

    Web cartoonists aren’t the ones being underpaid by posting on Yahoo and the like.

    Again, the argument that web cartoonists are behind the game doesn’t add up. And what you don’t see on here are traditional print syndication strip guys touting their syndicates ability to monetize the web. Why is that? Do they feel ahead of the curve?

  176. I am of the opinion that we are all cartoonists, regardless of which medium you choose for your primary publication method. With that, anything that makes cartooning a more viable career choice is a good thing. Anything that increases the chances of cartoonists being able to feed themselves on a regular basis and continue cartooning is a good thing.

    The argument at one time seemed to be which method of publication offered the most opportunities for income. The answer would be both. If you are one of the 1 out of 5000 offered a syndication deal then you have a chance of being successful, if you are one of the 20 out of 18,000 to make an above median income on your web comic, you have a chance of being successful.

    Then the argument apparently turned to social relevance. The true measure of success is judged by whether or not your comic makes a difference. This is a bogus argument as you are debating apples and oranges. By this argument the vast majority of web AND print cartoonist fall short. I really can’t think of the last sweeping cultural change or public opinion paradigm shift caused by Garfield, Zits, or the majority of editorial cartoons. Yes, some editorial cartoons have made the nation think and some web comics have called upon the masses to help others. But the primary purpose of most comic strips (web or print) is to make people laugh and take a break from all of the god-awful news they are reading in the newspaper or on the web.

    As I sit here sorting my records in preparation for tax time, I would posit that any cartoonist that has a daily audience greater than 50 and made more than $98.37 from their work is doing better than me this year and should probably be thankful. If you made one person laugh and feel better about their day or if you made one person stop and think about the world around them in a new light, you should stop and congratulate yourself on succeeding at being a cartoonist.

  177. I am a bit confused in what sense “I guarantee you, more people read editorial cartoons online than read them in print.” can be proven. Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me so I went about searching the net for methods of comparison between sites and found little useful information. Can someone suggest a method to prove this comment? The only listing I found of traffic comparing webcomics was on Alexa which had Penny Arcade (first gamer comic listed) at 4 and United Media’s (first site featuring editorial comics listed) at 8. All I have learned from this is that neither writing about Xbox or Republicans gets you as many hits as scans of Japanese comics since the number one holder was If the site is to be believed we all have a lot to learn from the real success in the web… pirating naruto?

  178. @Ted: You’re just angry ecause you know I’m right and it scares you. And once again, thank you for making qualitative statements about my character without knowing one thing about me. Ironic that you make the assumption I don’t read the news when you’re engaging me on a news site…or does DC not count because it’s not “real” news?

    If you’re such an expert at having an online presence, why is it such a big deal if newspapers die? Can’t you just continue what you’ve so expertly been allegedly doing for the past decade+? Is it because those Senators and Congressmen who hang on your every word won’t have a print copy to show their colleagues during an intense debate? There is a modern marvel called a printer…look it up.

    If you’re so worried about the state of the world, why are you here arguing in a pointless debate rather than out saving it? According to you, you have much better things to be doing…so why not go do them?

    And if you are so very convinced that “Kurtz and his friends” started this argument, why did you cast the first stone in this very thread? My guess is because Kurtz’s name was in the headline.

    This entire argument is belong pointless. “Rall and his friends” are angry because they are facing fundamental changes not only in the way they must do business, but also in the interest and passions of a new generation that they don’t understand. “Kurtz and his friends” are angry because their medium and method are finally being legitimized, yet there is a rather large lashback from some (not all) of the old guard who choose to reject them. Unfortunately, instead of acting gracefully and humbly toward their forebears, the webcartoonists in this debate are choosing the adolescent attitude of “we told you so, and now you’re all doomed.”

    Both groups need to wake up and stop going in circles. Ted, Stephanie, your assertion that your work is more important than gaming comics because you don’t understand games shows more of your ignorance than it does ours. Scott, you need to stop being so smug and start being more welcoming if you really want to change hearts and minds…even if you’re right. All of you stop dredging up points made in past arguments as if they are still valid in this one.

    That said, congratulations Scott on being invited to Macworld. Your success continues to shine. I wish the same success for everyone here, even those who seem not to want it.

  179. ha. haha. I take back everything I said, @Ted Rall does make me laugh. Not his comics mind you, but still.

    Keep in mind it was Ted who purposefully and without cause, attacked someone he knew he could rattle by not just questioning their ability to talk about their profession, but doing so by comparing him to one of the most controversial Presidents in US history and the stance of his administration on one of the most controversial issues it faced. (comment 4)

    Ted said gamer strips weren’t “worth the pixels”

    Ted said comics about social change are more “important” than the strips that are entertainment first.

    Then he claimed that traditional print model guys have more advanced knowledge of how to make the internet work for them than those who have built their own businesses purely through a web model of distribution and licensing.

    “The big joke here is that â??webcartoonistsâ? (what does that term even MEAN anyway?) think theyâ??re ahead of the curve, that we need to catch up with them, that maybe we have something to learn from themâ??when, in fact, the opposite is true.”

    And now he is championing the post by @Tovias about cartoonists working together and being happy doing what they love.

    Kudos, Ted Rall.

  180. Oops I meant the quote “Also, editorial cartoons have a far bigger audience ONLINE than game-themed strips. “

  181. Ted made the assertion (#215) that “When it comes to embracing technology, we are wayyyyyy ahead of you guys,” which, I suppose, is probably true. Being older than Kurtz and the ‘new guard’ of self-employed online cartoonists, Rall and the ‘old guard’ had access to technology and the opportunity to experiment with it at a younger age.

    However, the ability to use that technology effectively is definitely an advantage held by these young turks, who have managed to establish a workable business model based on consistent work, self-promotion, and merchandise (in that order). These guys are running laps around their predecessors in the syndicates with their ability to be their own bosses, make the decisions surrounding their characters and their work, and their own promotional schedule. And slag on the merchandising arm of these comics as much as you want, but if you look at the syndicated comics you’ll also see that the most financially successful ones also have wildly successful merchandise lines (and yes, books count, for those wanting to mention Calvin and Hobbes).

    Sadly for the editorial cartoonists, and I bring them up only because they appear to be the only ones bringing the fight to this particular thread), the current online comics business model (consistent work, self-promotion, and merchandise) doesn’t work for them, or at least it hasn’t yet. Who knows where the problem lies? I’m not going to argue that they don’t put out consistent work, so that’s out. Self-promotion? Perhaps they could be promoting themselves better, having active twitter feeds, engaging with their readers via blogs or forums, appearing at large comics conventions across the country (something that most syndicated cartoonists seem to fail at doing, by the way, aside from San Diego). Who knows? Maybe it’s just that the online comics audience, being younger and not as familiar with the idea of an ‘Editorial Page’ has no context built up with which to associate editorial cartoons? Who knows.

    The last step in the online comics business model, Merchandise, is I believe the biggest hurdle for editorial cartoons, which by their nature are very topical and timely. They have to be, in order to have any real ‘social impact’. However, it’s always been difficult to make merchandise based on a topical and timely topic – especially if you hope to not have a large percent of your production run stuck in inventory after interest wanes. Anybody want a t-shirt with a really great joke about Obama’s Birth Certificate? I got some cheap… Man, those were good times…

    Not surprisingly, it was the Merchandise arm of the online comics successful model that initially came under attack by many in the Syndicate guard, as slurs like ‘T-shirt salesman’ were thrown across the fence. And yes, editorial cartoons will never sell as many t-shirts as a pop-culture-based cartoon. (hint: there’s a reason it’s called ‘pop’ culture. And it’s not because they like to drink Coke.) The challenge for editorial cartoons is to establish their own market for their work.

    It’s said above that newspapers are moving online and onto mobile devices, creating a new demand for editorial cartoons.

    What? I can’t remember the last time I heard anyone say they wanted to get a Kindle or an iPhone so they could keep up on David Horsey or Pat Oliphant. I suspect that editorial cartoons are pretty low on anyone’s list of “things they’re looking forward to doing with their new e-reader”. The fact is, editorial cartoons have yet to really establish a market for their comics online, and in that, the failing lies with the syndicates who own their contracts (a hurdle that does not affect the modern online cartoonist, by the way).

    So, yes, Ted et al, there are challenges to the success of the modern editorial cartoonist, and to syndicated cartoonists in general, in being able to fully utilize the web to maximize the income potential of your comics efforts. Some are cultural, some are legal (based on whatever your contract with your syndicate states), but none of them originated with the online cartoonists who’ve been the targets of your attacks over the years. If you’ve got a problem, it’s with society at large, and your syndicate in particular. You say your comics are able to affect society’s viewpoints, so let’s see you work on that. As far as your ties to the syndicate, though, I’m afraid you’re on your own with that.

  182. God DAMMIT, Ted!!!!

    This WHOLE war between you and your print cartoonist buddies, and Kurtz and his webcomic friends started because the web people offered their knowledge and expertise about making web-based business models work for cartoonists, and YOU guys jumped down their throats for it. Now, somebody (RobT) offers you some specifics and you’re all “thanks, man, I’ll try that!”?? That was ALL THEY WERE TRYING TO DO!!!

    You and all other Editorial Cartoonists are NOT Webcartoonists, because you DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW TO MAKE THE WEB WORK FOR YOU. You can’t just throw your work online and stand back and wait for the money to come in. You have to make your site accessible, make it easy to link to and share comics, add widgets for things like Stumbleupon and Reddit and Twitter, create new content to draw people in, sell merchandise that people will WANT, sell your artwork, spread the word about your site! It’s not easy, but it’s DOABLE, but you guys can’t get over yourselves long enough to say “gee, thanks, I’ll give that a try”… all you can do is say “You aren’t making any money, you aren’t professionals, you’re just little pissants on the internet who devalue our career and you aren’t as IMPORTANT as me!”

    THAT is the attitude that makes people say “good riddance!” when they hear about newspapers dying and editorial cartoonists losing jobs. It’s your arrogance and derision of people who were just offering you a helping hand.

    And whether or not you blame Kurtz for starting the fight, it’s YOUR conduct that disgusts me here. Two wrongs don’t make a right, to pull out the tired cliche… you’ve pissed on people’s business practices, cartooning skills, and social import, you’ve poo-pooed their advice and stuck your nose way in the air, and you owe a lot of people an apology. You may think Kurtz owes you one as well, and that’s fine… but you aren’t responsible for cleaning up HIS messes, only YOURS. I get that you’re miffed. But get over it. You have the ability to turn the discussion around and send it in a useful direction. If you have any shred of respect for your fellow human beings, you’ll apologize, no matter what you think of Kurtz and his cronies. And maybe you’ll find that Kurtz is a big enough man to apologize right back at you, and turn this into a discussion about making things better for ALL cartoonists instead of playing “I’m better than you”.

    I’m not holding my breath, but I can dream, can’t I?

  183. From Stephanie’s Livejournal:

    “If we lived in a time of peace and harmony, then creating pretty, escapist, seratonin-boosting hits of mild amusement wouldnâ??t be a crime (except perhaps against oneâ??s Muse). If all was well, such art might enhance our happy existence, like whipped cream on a chocolate latte. Thereâ??s nothing wrong with pleasure, or decorative art.

    But in times like these, for an artist not to devote her/his talents and energies to creating cultural weapons of resistance is a betrayal of the worst magnitude, a gesture of contempt against life itself. It is unforgivable.”

    And an example of Stephanie’s poorly drawn “cultural weapon of resistance”…

  184. Hello all,

    When I saw the comments this morning, I mostly felt swarmed. Many people posted things that misrepresent what they were responding to, lump unrelated points together, and seem less like a conversation than a mass criticism session.

    Some comments do indicate a desire to increase mutual understanding, and have made me think. Thanks for those.

    I’m not going to sort through it all to address each point, so I”m just going to accept that there will always be (as there always has been), strong disagreement over the relative values of political art and entertainment.

    Though this thread has helped me begin to see that that might be a false dichotomy anyway… when I look at Ryan Sohmer’s comics, for example, I see work at least as ideologically driven as mine. Normalizing sexism is a strong political gesture too.

    I use his work as an example because he believes I’m arrogant for wanting to see more art that directly address the problems our world is facing, and he asserts that in contrast to that, he just wishes to entertain people.

    I believe that we all want to entertain our readers, and that whether we realize it or not, or intend to or not, we’re all also contributing to shaping the culture in ideological ways. Sometimes these ways are clear and direct, other times they’re more complex and subtle. But we’re all doing it.

  185. Hi, Ted. I’m a 23 year-old. I don’t know who you are beyond “that guy who hates webcomics in Daily Cartoonist comment pages.” Please tell me what makes you relevant so I can update my worldview accordingly.

  186. Vi is better than Emacs.

    These days such a statement will just get you either a glare or a confused look. People tend to use other IDEs.

    For those wondering what I’m on about. Vi and Emacs are advanced text editors primarily used for coders. They both do pretty much the same thing just slightly differently. Which editor someone uses is entirely dependent on their preferences.

    The point I’m trying to make here is that this argument is moot. Entirely and utterly moot.

    People always want to prove to other that they are ‘right’ about something. Because convincing other that they are right validates their belief.

    You see if everywhere you look. Either in buying cars, computers, magazines, clothing, whatever. Someone makes a choice and sets out to convince others his choice was a good one.

    The cartoonists in this thread making a living obviously found a model that is working for them. Each have their own approach and each seems to be doing well enough.

    They all also have their own motivation for doing what they do. And if they succeed in their goal. Then more power to them.

  187. “Also, editorial cartoons have a far bigger audience ONLINE than game-themed strips.”

    I’d like to see some valid data to back this up. I’d like to see “Unique visitors” and “visitors” period for a month and compare it with Penny Arcade or PvP. I mean, Hard cold facts, since that way we can disprove anyone from lying any further.

    “The big joke here is that â??web cartoonistsâ? (what does that term even MEAN anyway?) think theyâ??re ahead of the curve, that we need to catch up with them, that maybe we have something to learn from themâ??when, in fact, the opposite is true.”

    web cartoonists Ted, is a term that means they it is cartoonists that make the majority of their profit by utilizing a tool called the internet. Or “the World Wide Web” or “web” for short. Kurtz or PA aren’t necessarily ‘ahead of the curve’, I mean it’s hard to tell when ANYONE is ahead of the curve, period. At least, in terms of what you’re referring to. The only thing they are ‘ahead of the curve’ of on Ted, is how they USE the internet FOR THEIR ADVANTAGE. You pooh-pooh over them for this simple fact.

    Someone above clearly defines your website has problems. And it does. See, you don’t utilize the web as well as other WEBCARTOONISTS do.

    Cartoonist is a blanket term, web cartoonists categorizes them a bit further. Why is it that someone would have to explain that to you? I mean, it’s like a painter, someone who considers themselves a real ‘artist’ asking you Ted, what DOES cartoonist means anyway?! I’d say we’re all artists, it depends on how you categorize yourself, but I digress.

  188. Hey Ryan Sohmer, it looks like you’ve got some misplaced rage towards me up above. I’ve got no idea why you think I’ve insulted your work (which I’m very unfamiliar with), or why you’re tossing your weird insults towards me. But I’ll say it again: to those “who seem to want this to be some sort of best insult contest about each othersâ?? comics, let me make it clear Iâ??m not talking about your comics at all.”

    And hey, Indigo, you said something about “Sadly for the editorial cartoonists … the current online comics business model … doesnâ??t work for them, or at least it hasnâ??t yet.” That’s maybe true of the narrow group of the more traditional newspaper generation of political artists, but I believe there’s plenty of successful artists from the web generation of political artists, including me, Chris Muir, and David Reese, to name three wildly different ones.

    So it’s not that political comics can’t or haven’t succeeded on the web; several already have. Just everybody keep in mind that not every successful webcomics artist is visiting the comment threads you frequent in order to tell you all about how successful they are.

    For example, let’s say some successful wild activist artist is making webcomics railing against the deadly sins of Pride and Greed. You’re probably not going to find them bragging about their bank account on your message board.

    Or, it could be that the most successful artists recognize that all this message boarding is seriously cutting into our time spent killing elves.

  189. @Ted – Having a web site and being a web comic artist are different things. Being a web comic artist is about building a community. Communication is two ways, not one way.

    To be honest, not all comic artists can do this. Take Dilbert’s Scott Adams, for example. Dilbert is obviously very successful, and very funny. Years ago, Scott Adams started blogging and his true persona was revealed. While smart and funny, he is also a huge arrogant bastard. On a personal level, I started to find the Dilbert comic less funny. I couldn’t read Dilbert without having my opinion of Scott Adams temper my enjoyment of the comic.

    As a result of that, I stopped reading Adams’ blog so I could enjoy his comic. A similar thing happened with Non Sequitur by Wiley Miller.

    You, Ted, my find that people will like your work less when they find out that you’re a humorless grump in real life. Seems a shame.

  190. JJ, the business model used by syndicated cartoonists like Ted (who, as I have learnt from reading these comments, draws a comic strip about elephants and donkeys and Tattoo Face John McCain) is beginning to crumble, and they (or rather, the syndicates who have control over where their work goes) don’t seem to know what to do about it. And, for some reason, some syndicated cartoonists appear to get very offended at the idea of someone who has had success in a relatively new medium offering them suggestions and advice for how to effectively sell their content in the 21st century.

    Newspapers are on their way out. That’s a sad thing. Genuinely, it is. It’s the first nail in the coffin of print as a whole, and as someone who absolutely *loves* books that saddens me.

  191. @Stephanie

    All kidding aside, I think what bothers people the most is that you make such a simplistic value judgment. You’re basically saying that any form of art that self-identifies as political is inherently of greater value.

    By that logic, for example, you might say HG Wells’ “Ann Veronica” is a better novel than “The Time Machine.” Ann Veronica very explicitly deals with late 19th century sexism, whereas the Time Machine is more of a fun speculation about what the future might be like. If you had been alive in that time, and applied your current logic, you would’ve dismissed Time Machine as fanciful diversion and promoted Ann Veronica as Mr. Wells’ important work.

    But, with the lens of time, we all recognize that “The Time Machine” was not only a superior work of art, but has inspired numerous scientists, artists, and politicians to change their views. Ann Veronica is now an artifact of literary history, while The Time Machine continues to inspire young learners around the world.

    Now, let’s take Penny Arcade. Here’s a comic that is ostensibly about gaming. But, scratch the surface even a little and you see it’s built a community that cares about intelligent writing, technology, friendship, and creative ability. These are all skills that do indeed help solve social problems, and in addition provide lasting works to inspire the future.

    Additionally, you’re in a glass house throwing stones. You refer to other cartoonists as engaging in abhorrent objectionable behavior by not making agitprop. You also accuse Sohmer of “normalizing sexism.” Yet in your own comics, you do strips about eco-terrorism being acceptable and about geo-engineering being madness. I personally reject those views. As someone who believes in the importance of science, I know how real eco-terrorism has set back biological science (albeit it in a small way). As a person informed on geo-engineering, I reject the idea it’s all insanity. It could well be the case that someday we need geo-engineers, and I imagine by then we’ll be happy they’ve been researching all along.

    That said, I wouldn’t ever call your views abhorrent, and I wouldn’t ever say my work is somehow superior, and I certainly wouldn’t compare either of us to Nazi resisters or appeasers. I might question your logic, but not your value or motivation. These are intangible things about which it makes no sense to argue.

    Today, I did a strip about gay marriage that’ll get read by 100,000 people. The reason they’re coming isn’t because of my strident views. They’re coming because I’m good at my craft – writing amusing jokes. There’s no antagonism between art and politics, except what you create.

  192. “Cartoonist is a blanket term, web cartoonists categorizes them a bit further.”

    I feel secure under my blanket … No need for these split threads 🙂

  193. @Stephanie McMillan
    “I believe that we all want to entertain our readers, and that whether we realize it or not, or intend to or not, weâ??re all also contributing to shaping the culture in ideological ways. Sometimes these ways are clear and direct, other times theyâ??re more complex and subtle. But weâ??re all doing it.”

    This statement of yours just negated everything you were carrying on about for this entire thread. Done.

    Go ahead, Ted. Agree with her now.

  194. Ted and Stephanie just show that moral absolutism isn’t just for righties.

    Same tune, different lyrics.

  195. Editorial cartoons have trouble selling merchandise for revenue because there usually aren’t any recurring characters that are recognizable and can be placed/printed on merchandise. If it’s all donkeys, elephants, and caricatures of public figures, then there’s nothing to sell. Duh.

    But an editorial cartoon like ‘Day by Day’ does have recurring characters, and he’s at least opened a Cafe Press store. He has four well-defined characters that can be used the same way any other cartoon character can be used. He also has one ‘liberal’ character, so he’s not written off have the population/potential market like so many editorial cartoonists do when they stay all to one side.

  196. @Zach,

    Thank you. Your comment helps clarify something for me further, which I was beginning to see — perhaps the central issue is not whether art is overtly political or not, because it’s all inherently political anyway — what does matter is what the artwork is promoting and what it stands for.

    Art that expresses ideas against the status quo *appear* more political because they are inherently oppositional, they’re critiques. In art that reinforces the status quo, the politics are invisible unless you’re looking at it from the point of view of opposition.

    In line with this, most people would say that the most commercial art of all — advertising — is not political. I see it as extremely political because it asks people directly to support the dominant economy.

    I wouldn’t take it personally if you did say my rejection of geo-engineering (I’m using this just as an example, not to talk about geo-engineering per se) is abhorrent, if that’s what you believe. Especially if you think geoengineering (or whatever) might one day save the planet — wouldn’t it make sense for you you try to counteract the influence of those who reject it, those who, if they prevail, would jeopardize countless lives?

    Defining our politics, what we stand for, influences how things get done, how they get struggled out in the real world. If those who support geo-engineering win, then that’s what’s going to happen. If those who don’t support it win, it won’t. I don’t see these issues as just intellectual exercises — they have real consequences, real results about what happens to the world and to people.

  197. @ Chris Watson,

    “This statement of yours just negated everything you were carrying on about for this entire thread. Done.”

    Didn’t I just say this thread has helped me see some things? First I get attacked for being rigid and simplistic, then you attack me for adjusting my thinking? What the hell do you want, actually?

  198. Zach, Steph, anybody else off with us on this particular tangent, I’m not sure if this will help us all agree or create more confusion, but:

    I think all comics are political. Whether they’re abhorrent or not is going to depend on your views.

    Those that don’t seem political are usually just those that support the political status quo. Now I can get behind the status quo of a comic about a round-headed kid who loves his dog, but not so much Andy Capp beating up his wife.

    Then you have some that are more metaphorical or allegorical and political in very general ways. Like how according to my Cliff’s Notes the X-Men isn’t just about Wolverine beating up ninjas, it’s a metaphor about civil rights and the struggle for racial harmony. Sure, I can get behind that.

    Then there are those comics that are overtly and very specifically political. We all know these as “political cartoons” even though all cartoons are secretly political. These are the ones that tell you straight up that John McCain is a liar and OMFG don’t vote for that dude.

    So they’re all political. Whether they’re abhorrent or not will have to do with their views, not the format those views are delivered in. Punching your wife in the eye wouldn’t suddenly become awesome just because it was placed in a traditional, overt, pro-wife punching editorial cartoon.

  199. Dear Ted,

    Even though Ben said it in a similar (and awesome) way, I’m going to be more direct. I’m a 23-year old Communications student working in public relations. I will never, EVER subscribe to a newspaper. I don’t know anyone my age who does, even friends of mine actually looking to get into politics. There is NOTHING that an editorial cartoon can provide me, even with my own interest in news, politics, and world events.

    I’m not asking why, I’m straight up telling you: You don’t matter. Not to me, and not to anybody of my generation.

    I don’t wish you any ill will or professional failure, but I’ll be damned if you don’t seem determined to invite it on yourself.

  200. I don’t/can’t know what assumptions I’m getting wrong about web-only cartoons (or, for that matter, how we’re supposed to define them). I only know what “webcartoonists” say here and elsewhere.

    What I do know, however, is that “webcartoonists” get a lot of basic assumptions wrong about what people like me–mainly syndicated editorial cartoonists and comic-strip artists–do. They simply don’t understand our business or how it works. They say things that simply aren’t true, and it makes it very difficult to take them seriously.

    Some examples:

    1. “Print cartoonists haven’t adapted to the web or gone online.” Simply untrue. Basically all of them are online. All of them have built online communities around their work.

    2. “Editorial cartoonists can’t sell merchandise because they don’t have recurring characters.” No. We sell plenty of merchandise. I’ve sold cards and T-shirts, found them too much work for too little money, and abandoned them. I focus on books, which sell well. I like them. Based on sales figures I’ve heard “webcartoonists” talk about, my numbers are on the high side. And many, many cartoonists are more successful than me.

    3. “Print cartoonists are afraid of/mad at webcartoonists.” Maybe a few, but mainly only at people like Scott Kurtz, whom they viewed as a scab for trying to give away his work to replace their paying work. Which didn’t work. Mostly, “print” cartoonists don’t think about “webcartoonists” at all. Or, if they do, they wonder aloud that online strips that simply aren’t funny seem to attract an audience. Like “Garfield,” I suppose.

    4. “Newspapers are doomed.” No one serious seriously thinks this. It’s obvious that the newspaper business will survive, and probably even thrive, in the near future. Many “webcartoonists” are too young to recall the Great Newsprint Meltdown of 1994, when high paper prices caused huge layoffs, or the chaos that followed the demise of morning papers. Most older cartoonists do. These are sucky times for newspapers, true. But hey, they’re sucky times for the Internet too–ad rates are way down. There’s a Depression on. It’s sucky for everyone who doesn’t own a liquor store.

    5. “Print cartoonists don’t want to hear suggestions from webcartoonists are just trying to be friendly and helpful.” Far from it! We would LOVE to pick up helpful tips, and we would LOVE to share what we know. This is something that cartoonists have done forever, with younger and older artists making friends across generations. Unfortunately, all we seem to hear from “webcartoonists” is “you guys suck, newspapers are going to die, ha ha.” Which doesn’t hurt our feelings. It bores us because it’s stupid.

    Personally, I have all sorts of webby problems I’d love advice on.

    For example, I have a ComicsPress version of my blog ready to post, but I hear horror stories about being deluged by spam. Several people I know have had their ComicsPress sites hacked and vandalized. Is there a better way?

    In ComicsPress, is it possible to avoid having to rename all 3,500 of my archived comics files so they drop into the calendar search function? Having to rename 3,500 files from “1-4-10.jpg” to “2010-01-04-sample-cartoon.jpg” is a pain in the you-know-what.

    I have animated cartoons. What’s the best way/best place to show them on a website?

    Someone commented on the “wasteland” that is my PHPBB forum. Indeed, I had to give up on it because I get literally 100 spam attacks a day from Russian spambots. Is there a forum program that is immune to nonsense like this?

    Meanwhile, I know there are lots of questions that webcartoonists should be asking ME, like: what do the syndicates look for? And I would be happy to answer them.

    These are the conversations I wish we could be having. Sadly, though, there is no forum like that frequented by all cartoonists.

  201. @John Cole, Ted, etc: re: the ‘dateless wonders, get hit by a comet,” brouhaha:

    Wow, it surprises me that y’all are so behind the time. You think all gamers are dateless wonders living in our mother’s basements? Seriously? How behind the times ARE you? Both Mike and Jerry are married with kids, as are close to 25% of the “gamers” I know. My goodness, there are even females who enjoy our hobby.

    I know, shocking, isn’t it? We gamers are even reproducing! I weep for humanity.


    I write escapist fantasy and science fiction, and it’s fun. My goal isn’t to make a social commentary, it’s so my readers can cheer at their monitors when a pretty girl (or boy) kisses the Hero/Heroine, and when the Bad Guy is defeated in massive explosions.

    I guess it’s not as ‘important’ as making a ham-handed political commentary, but I’ve gotten a few emails in the line of “Hey, you made my day better, keep writing.” And my own life has been positively affected by a webcomic artist making a point about getting over heartbreak. (Thanks, Jeph Jacques.) By making that statement, the real world was affected.

    Yet from the tenor of your statements, Questionable Content is socially worthless.

    My point? Take your elitist art-condescension and put it where the sun sheds no photons.

    Or hey! Even better: keep putting it out where we can all see it and laugh at it. You may bring a smile to someone’s face, in itself a good deed.

  202. @Stephanie McMillan

    That wasn’t an attack on you, I congratulate you for adjusting your views. My point was that this particular tangent has thus come to a middle, and therefore isn’t worth discussing anymore. Further, my comment to Ted was to see if he would agree and move on as well.

  203. @Stephanie

    Exactly! See, I think we basically agree here – we all have voices which we try to use to affect cultural change. You and I disagree on a particular issue, and we use our media to try fight about it publicly. I think this is fair and agreeable.

    I also agree that all (or at least most) art has a political aspect. Yes, you might argue that certain forms of art reinforce the “status quo.”

    However, “status quo” doesn’t mean a lot.

    For example, I bet you and I both would like to see more renewable energy funding. That is a part of the current political system we’d like to change.

    But, for example, I’m in favor of fission energy, which I imagine you are not. Fission energy is getting more funding than any time in the last 30 years. This is a part of the status quo I like.

    Even better, part of the modern political climate is a movement to legalize gay marriage. No, it’s not successful yet, but demographic surveys suggest it will be in another 10 to 20 years. This is a part of the current political climate that I imagine we both like. You might say part of the “status quo” is the movement toward legal gay marriage.

    So, if commercial art defends the status quo, and I like parts of the status quo, then there is a good quality to that art.

    More abstractly, you’re positing that if one action is good, its inverse is therefore necessarily bad. This is not good logic. For example, it is good to volunteer at homeless shelters. But does it make people bad NOT to do so?

    I think the chain of logic many people here reject is this:
    A: The status quo is very very bad. (The term Nazi has been used)
    B: Art that is not overtly contrarian is in support of the status quo.
    C: Therefore, art of the type mentioned in B is in support of the very very bad.

    It may not be your intention, but it seems like you’re saying if some kid just wants to make comics about a Superhero fighting dumb villains, he’s politically in league with evil (again, the word Nazi has been used). I give you the benefit of the doubt that this is NOT your meaning or intent, but I think it would be a reasonable assessment from some of your above comments.

    I believe that’s a big part of why people are “swarming” you.

  204. @Brian: “I will never, EVER subscribe to a newspaper.”

    Never say never. At age 23, I thought I would never, ever do lots of things I ended up doing (some of which I wish, I hadn’t, but whatever.)

    It’s theoretically possible to be well-informed without ever sullying one’s hands with newsprint. Theoretically. But probably not in reality. Because people don’t/can’t read a computer screen as much, or as attentively, as they do print. There’s a reason the average reader spends only 9 minutes online, as opposed to 46 minutes for the print reader. And those 9 minutes may include bathroom breaks and keeping the browser open while they look at other stuff.

    A friend of mine, a 20something cartoonist, recently suffered an injury that required her to stop reading news online. Before this accident, she always argued with me that there was no difference between reading a newspaper and reading the same publication online, that she was just as well-informed as I was. Then she started subscribing. She changed her mind. There’s just no comparison: online, you read less, you read less attentively, you focus on what you already know, with less room for serendipity.

    I say this as someone who loves the Internet, spends too many hours on it every day, including here. It’s awesome! But you’re simply kidding yourself if you think you’re not missing anything by reading print newspapers–despite the all-too-true fact that they’re bland, censored, and ridiculously lame. The only thing worse than reading a typical crappy daily newspaper in print is not reading one at all.

  205. Ted:

    ****In ComicsPress, is it possible to avoid having to rename all 3,500 of my archived comics files so they drop into the calendar search function? Having to rename 3,500 files from â??1-4-10.jpgâ? to â??2010-01-04-sample-cartoon.jpgâ? is a pain in the you-know-what.

    >>>>You probably do have to rename. However, you should ask any techie fans of yours if they can build a macro that’ll rename files for you. Maybe twitter about it? I’d be happy to help.

    ****I have animated cartoons. Whatâ??s the best way/best place to show them on a website?

    >>>>If I were you, I’d run them through a site like or youtube. The ad revenue is decent, and you’ll get shown to a bunch of people who don’t know you. Also, that way you can still embed it on your site easily.

    ****Someone commented on the â??wastelandâ? that is my PHPBB forum. Indeed, I had to give up on it because I get literally 100 spam attacks a day from Russian spambots. Is there a forum program that is immune to nonsense like this?

    >>>>Update your software. So-called “captcha” (anti-spambot login stuff) improves with every iteration of phpbb. Also, more importantly, get yourself some loyal dedicated geeks to mod the forum.

    That said, a forum is by no means necessary for a comic. And, all but the biggest comics tend to have very small desolate communities.

    ****Meanwhile, I know there are lots of questions that webcartoonists should be asking ME, like: what do the syndicates look for? And I would be happy to answer them.

    >>>>My material is probably too racy for a syndicate, but I appreciate the offer. 🙂

    ****These are the conversations I wish we could be having. Sadly, though, there is no forum like that frequented by all cartoonists.

    >>>>There really doesn’t need to be. You know the names of prominent web people. If you wish to email them, it’s a click of a button. I’d certainly be open to chat with you.

    Hope that helps. I honestly do think you do some of the better editorial cartooning. You actually make political humor, no just highly captioned obvious observations.

  206. In the news: Danish political cartoonist has to escape to a panic room after attacker enters home to kill him for his depiction of the Prophet Muhammed, which has sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

    Also in the news: popular web cartoonist also has to escape to a panic room after commenting on his blog that he prefers the “Greedo shot first” version of the scene in the Mos Eisley Cantina, which has sparked outrage in the Star Wars world.

    Just kidding. 😉

  207. @Ted: The only thing worse than reading a typical crappy daily newspaper in print is not reading one at all.

    So what about reading a crappy daily paper online?
    My local newspaper has all of its stuff online, making ends meet through advertising. (And, truth be told, very low bandwidth needs.)
    I’m getting the same news, really. I’m just doing it with less need to go outside into the savage Southern California winter, less clutter, less good O2-producing trees killed, etc.
    The newspaper in its current format is dying. Not quite sure what will replace it – the blog in its current incarnation seems more to be the thing to replace magazines more than newspapers – but I’ll certainly be happy when we aren’t cutting down quite as many trees.

  208. */ 1. â??Print cartoonists havenâ??t adapted to the web or gone online.â? Simply untrue. Basically all of them are online. All of them have built online communities around their work. /*

    Yes, and they charge a subscription fee to look at comics older than two to four weeks. Frankly, I’m not going to pay such a fee no matter how much I like the comic. If Penny Arcade, PvP or SMBC moved to a subscription model tomorrow they’d get the same treatment.

    */ Never say never. At age 23, I thought I would never, ever do lots of things I ended up doing (some of which I wish, I hadnâ??t, but whatever.) /*

    I used to read the paper as a kid. And, as a kid, I couldn’t help but notice that it was 40-60% advertising. Eventually I got fed up. Eventually I started getting my news from the internet. That’s what everyone else is doing now.

    Oh, but you’re covering that now, aren’t you?

    */ Itâ??s theoretically possible to be well-informed without ever sullying oneâ??s hands with newsprint. Theoretically. But probably not in reality. Because people donâ??t/canâ??t read a computer screen as much, or as attentively, as they do print. /*

    Right, because information on the internet is somehow less tangible than it is printed on dead trees.

    */ Thereâ??s a reason the average reader spends only 9 minutes online, as opposed to 46 minutes for the print reader /*

    Yes, there is – it’s because the average reader is going to multiple websites for their news. I personally go to about five different websites for my news. One of those is Google News, which pulls articles from various sources, and another is Fark, which is “cloudsourced”.

    I have to say Ted, for someone who claims to be making such a huge impact on the world you seem to have a remarkably narrow view of it.

  209. I’m not a cartoonist of any stripe so I won’t lay any claim to knowing anything about how the industry works. I am a 42-year-old consumer of media who does waste his time playing video games as well as arguing passionately about politics and religious issues on his personal blog which receives a surprising amount of traffic for not being all that focused. I am not anyone important in the grand scheme of things, though I have touched and changed a few lives in my own small way. I consider myself both politically and technologically savvy, though that could just be my own self-inflated ego.

    I am, in short, your potential audience and I just thought I’d share a few personal opinions.

    I’m a long time fan of both Scot Kurtz and Mike Krahulik’s online webcomics, along with many others I won’t bother mentioning. I’m sure that will get me written off as just another fan boy, but I feel not mentioning it would be dishonest. I am also a long time fan of Bill Amend’s Foxtrot and, now that Calvin & Hobbes and Bloom County are long since dead, I consider Bill’s work to be the only syndicated comic worth making the effort to follow these days and I wish he’d go back to doing daily strips. The rest of the stuff that appears in the local papers here in the Detroit area only gets read on those rare occasions when I happen across a newspaper in a waiting room someplace and haven’t brought a book along to read. I don’t buy newspapers, stopped back in the 90’s, as I’ve been online longer than the average person, including Ted Rall, and I get most of my news electronically and through NPR. I am one of those pasty-faced nerds he was making fun of earlier, though I look more like a biker than a nerd.

    There aren’t any editorial cartoonists that I follow online with any regularity. Wait, that’s not entirely true. I do quite enjoy the editorial cartoons by Mr. Fish and Mike Luckovich that appear on Truthdig (, but I only see those because I read Truthdig. In short, I don’t go to Truthdig to see the editorial cartoons the way I specifically go to PVP Online and Penny Arcade to see those comics.

    Every now and then one of the political blogs I read regularly will link to a Ted Rall comic so I’ve read quite a few over the years and, while I think Rall and I are somewhat similar in political opinions, there’s not a lot there to make me a fan of his work. Sure, I agree with the messages of the comics I’ve seen from him, but they don’t make me laugh and he hasn’t said anything that I would feel has expanded my political consciousness. It doesn’t help that his artistic skills, in my humble and completely unimportant to anyone opinion, are somewhat lacking. Which is the polite way to say it.

    I had never heard of Stephanie McMillan prior to reading this thread, but after reading her comments here and then investigating her comics at her site, all I can say is I probably won’t be a fan anytime soon. I’m all for saving the planet and fighting injustice, but a better example of overbearingly preening self-importance is hard to come by. The one positive thing I can say about her is that she’s passionate, but she completely turns me off by her holier-than-thou attitude. I will say that her artwork is marginally less eye gouging than Ted Rall’s, but only very marginally. There’s certainly nothing on her site to motivate me to help her fund her effort to publish what appears to be a childrens propaganda book even if I do agree with some of the concepts being put forth.

    Perhaps Mr. Rall has the ear of the important people in America and perhaps he changes minds and influences outlooks among some of them. Perhaps Ms. McMillan touches hearts and changes attitudes that will someday help save the planet. That’s nifty and all, but I still haven’t bought one collection of strips from either of them or even bothered to see what merchandise they offer. In comparison I own several PVP and Penny Arcade books, t-shirts, and collectibles.

    Why? The latter have made me laugh and I enjoy the artwork, which is what I look for in a good comic. It’s the same reason I own almost every single Foxtrot, Bloom County, and Calvin & Hobbes book produced. The political commentary in Bloom County, a series which died in 1989, still outshines anything I’ve ever seen Ted Rall produce and it managed to look good doing it.

    These are, as I said previously, just the opinions of one consumer of comics and are not presented as an ultimate truth for anyone other than myself. I fully admit that perhaps I’m not as politically savvy as I’d like to think that I am and that might play a role in why I can’t look past the crappy artwork of Mr. Rall and Ms. McMillian to see how enlightening and important their messages are. However, considering I grew up watching the original “Doctor Who” TV series, I think it’s safe to say that I an overlook crappy production values when the content manages to resonate with me. Mr. Rall’s and Ms. McMillian’s content fails to resonate with me. One is making obvious political jokes (TSA requiring everyone to put their underwear in a bin? Yeah, even I made that crappy joke on my blog) and the other is wielding her message like a blunt force object designed to bash in heads.

    From my point of view the value of Scott and Mike’s work is worthy of my money and I will be far sadder when they retire than I will be when Mr. Rall or Ms. McMillian decide to put down their pens.

  210. “Itâ??s theoretically possible to be well-informed without ever sullying oneâ??s hands with newsprint. Theoretically. But probably not in reality. Because people donâ??t/canâ??t read a computer screen as much, or as attentively, as they do print. Thereâ??s a reason the average reader spends only 9 minutes online, as opposed to 46 minutes for the print reader. And those 9 minutes may include bathroom breaks and keeping the browser open while they look at other stuff.”

    Ted, I used to subscribe to the New York Times (tied to a requirement of being a journalism student). I got rid of that subscription once I was no longer required to get it because there wasn’t a point to it. By the time I got the paper, I’d already read all the stories that were important, with the exception of those that were NY Times local stories, because I’d read them the previous night online. What this means, though, is that while I may only spend 10 minutes at a given news site, its not that that is ALL the reading I’m doing is those 10 minutes, but that I’ll go through several sites to get different elements of the news.

    As an aside, I would think that one method of seeing the footprint of, say, Rall vs Kurtz online, especially as Ted Rall has made the point that he and other print cartoonists have already adapted to the technology even faster, would be twitter, since they both use twitter. Based on that, Ted Rall has 442 followers, and Scott Kurtz has 19027 followers. That would seem to imply that Ted’s not using this technology to its maximum to get his readers to follow it, or that there’s simply fewer readers.

  211. @Zach,

    Thank you for your constructive comment — there’s a lot to think about there, and I will.

    I think I’d just be repeating myself if I go on at this point (or rather, I’d be trying to repeat Eric’s excellent post).

  212. “not to mention climate change moving so quickly that the human race could be extinct within a generation or two, Americans are finally starting to wake up.”

    Not to go overly into subtopics, but, and I say this in no way intending to downplay the actual issues with global warming, but statements like this are either simple ignorance of the issue or intentional fear mongering, and spreading false claims about global warming is an action that works against any attempt to do something about global warming by creating arguments that are fairly easily defeated. So if you’re going to try to attack people for being ignorant of what’s going on, you may want to be more careful in what you’re saying.

  213. @Stephanie

    Thanks. I’m doing my best to be reasonable and not come across as harsh or moralizing, and I hope we’ve reached some common ground despite the sheer volume of sarcasm and sillyness in this topic 🙂

    Happy cartooning!

  214. @Eric

    Yeah, I think we are basically in agreement. The only thing I don’t like is the use of “Status quo” as if it is a meaningful thing. I think it’s better to debate over influence on particular issues – politics, environmentalism, energy policy, et cetera, than some abstract notion of normalcy.

    I also think we’re all tripping over the meaning of “political.” To most people, political refers to the stuff Democrats and Republicans fight over. To you and Steph, it seems to have a broader meaning – something closer to what I might call memetics or sociology. So, when you say “all art is political” it may mean something very odd to a person not armed with your definition.

    And yeah, agreed about Andy Capp and the domestic violence.

  215. This debate is interesting, but I can’t really see the point. Both sides are successful, but it seems like Ted is trying to elevate print over online and the people online are defending themselves, badly I might add. I can’t really see one argument that actually proves why print is better than online or online is better than print.

    I’m in comics myself. I have a webcomic that updates three times a week and i’m trying to get published by Image, Dark horse or one of those places. I love both mediums and wish I could be successful in the two. But, since I’m not, I’ll give you guys my opinion as a reader:

    Webcomics: I got into these five years ago and still love them. They’re updated at midnight, normally, at a schedule that works for the author and if you miss one, you can simply go back and read at your leisure. Also, they are free.

    On the negative side, authors can disappear for months at a time (Megatokyo, Mac Hall, etc.) because they decide when they update. Also, I can’t stare at a screen for too long without straining my eyes. When i first read through the PvP archives early 2008, I had to stop three times for a break.

    Print Comics: Been reading these since I was a kid, though I haven’t been doing so as much lately. They are right there in print and I can spend hours looking at paper without issue. Also, because of editors the authors are more likely to keep on schedule, since they do get paid.

    Problem is, I have to spend $4 a day to get all the newspapers with comics. Plus, DC and Marvel are charging $4 an issue, which means my local comic shops are charging $7-8 each, despite the fact an australian dollar is about 95 cents US last I checked. And if I miss one? I’d better hope they have a back order because otherwise I’m not seeing those again. Sure, you can buy Trade Paperbacks, which is what I do, for a fraction of the cost, but they don’t print all the strips and issues. And if I collect all the newspapers and issues, they are going to fall apart with age.

    So who is better? As an Australian, I can’t afford to spend much on comics, so financially webcomics are better for me. I can’t stare at a screen for too long, but that’s only an issue when I’m reading through the archives. If I’m just checking new strips, I’m fine. And most editorial comics and strips are online anyway, for free, so I can go check them out without spending a cent. As long as the site stays up, I can read these comics any time at my leisure.

    So as a reader, webcomics win. As a comic author though? I’ll have to get back to you when I’m as successful as Scott, Ted, Ryan, Zach and all the rest.

  216. I look away for a day and this thread explodes. Where was everybody a few days ago when everything got weird? Oh, yeah, New Year’s.

    I just remembered something and thought I would add it. Presidents, Congress and even Supreme Court Justices have discussed and made a big deal over various TV Shows and movies. It seems like yesterday that Justice Scalia and Dick Cheney were arguing that the Jack Bauer character in 24 would be considered a hero in real life. And the other old timer example is good ol’ Dan Quayle and Murphy Brown (I actually got to see his law school grades at the time because I was working at the same university …. bleh).

    If you think popular culture does not influence whatever Yale C-grade student is in office just as much as anything else, you are living in la-la land.

  217. “I can see how a political cartoon, or even a comment on a message board, could do that. I donâ??t see how cartoons about video games are anything other than a waste of pixels”

    And then, one would assume, would most any form of entertainment.

    Tell me, Ted, do you buy no fiction? Do you go see no movies?

    Ted, *entertainment* is important to a species. Play is important to a species. It keeps it sane.

    If you can’t accept that, well, good luck with that.

    And, frankly, since none of your messages have done jack to improve society, I proclaim them ‘a waste of pixels’

  218. I believe Mr. Sohmer asked a question of Mr. Rall in comment #167.

    It was Mr. Rall who thought it fair to show tax return information in a panel with Mr. Kurtz in comment #50.

    In fact, he believed it was “the whole crux of the debate here.”

    I believe it fair to answer the question of another successful webcomic creator and back it up with the proper paperwork if each others words are not trusted. It would be rude not to.

    So to reiterate Mr. Sohmer’s question:
    “Tell me, how much do you make?”

    Answer the question sir.

  219. Both Ted and Stephanie have still failed to make an effort to explain how both of them begging for money for themselves on their websites puts them on a higher moral or socially conscious ground then PA or PVP who go out of their way to encourage donations to worthwhile charities on their websites.

    Also noticed there was no response from Ted when Ryan offered to prove he and his employees at Blind Ferrett make an excellent income.

    The fact that you have both chosen to cherry pick your replies is pretty telling.

    Ted? Stephanie? Any thoughts?

  220. Um.. it is just me or has Ted Rall completely ignored the challenge of tax returns from Sohmer? I can’t find a response from Ted.

    Interesting how the challenge he’d been slapping Kurtz in the face with for a while and on a larger concept webcomics in general is just ignored when one that (probably) make a lot more than Kurtz say’s he’ll answer the challenge.

    I might have missed the post where Ted might have suddenly made that point suddenly irrelevant once he’s called out on his challenge, but if not I think I have even less respect for Ted if I didn’t. At least he could have somehow addressed the thing he’d be wanting for so long, you know the usual “that’s not important even though I said it was, let me change my point” sort of thing. Or was it just what he wanted out of Kurtz and a bigger fish was something that he really didn’t want to face.

    And yes this post is purposely a little antagonistic. I’m hoping Rall will at least address that the challenge he’s been issuing for a while has been accepted.

  221. >1. â??Print cartoonists havenâ??t adapted to the web or gone >online.â? Simply untrue. Basically all of them are online. All of >them have built online communities around their work.

    Just “being online”, in the sense of having some of their work available on the internet, is not “adapting to the web”. Using the web to make a living requires more than simply sticking cartoons up on a website. It requires merchandising, self-promotion, etc etc. Very few so-called Print Cartoonists have done this to any useful extent… at least, so far. I would hope that more and more of them will do so in the coming years, despite nay-sayers like you telling them that earning money online is impossible.

    >2. â??Editorial cartoonists canâ??t sell merchandise because >they donâ??t have recurring characters.â? No. We sell plenty of >merchandise. Iâ??ve sold cards and T-shirts, found them too >much work for too little money, and abandoned them. I focus >on books, which sell well. I like them. Based on sales >figures Iâ??ve heard â??webcartoonistsâ? talk about, my numbers >are on the high side. And many, many cartoonists are more >successful than me.

    “Plenty of merchandise” isn’t the goal. Enough merchandise to earn a living is the goal. If you claim that no living can be made online (which you’ve done repeatedly), then I find it unlikely that your numbers are “on the high side”. Also, sales figures aren’t much use if you only keep a dollar or two per book through a Syndicate book deal, while webcartoonists are keeping nearly 100% of their sales. Whatever you are making from merchandising, you can do better. THAT’S the point.

    >3. â??Print cartoonists are afraid of/mad at webcartoonists.â? >Maybe a few, but mainly only at people like Scott Kurtz, >whom they viewed as a scab for trying to give away his work >to replace their paying work. Which didnâ??t work. Mostly, >â??printâ? cartoonists donâ??t think about â??webcartoonistsâ? at all. >Or, if they do, they wonder aloud that online strips that >simply arenâ??t funny seem to attract an audience. Like >â??Garfield,â? I suppose.

    You claim web strips aren’t funny, compared to print cartoons. And yet, every time I look in a newspaper, I see nothing but bland, boring, unfunny cartoons, while most of the web strips I follow routinely make me laugh out loud. So you’ll forgive me if I dismiss this as total BS. As for Print people being mad at or afraid of webcartoonists, it’s the vocal minority (like you) who give that impression. I have no doubt that most of them “don’t think about webcartoonists at all”. Which is a shame, since many of those print cartoonists are looking for alternate revenue streams.

    >4. â??Newspapers are doomed.â? No one serious seriously >thinks this. Itâ??s obvious that the newspaper business will >survive, and probably even thrive, in the near future. Many >â??webcartoonistsâ? are too young to recall the Great Newsprint >Meltdown of 1994, when high paper prices caused huge >layoffs, or the chaos that followed the demise of morning >papers. Most older cartoonists do. These are sucky times >for newspapers, true. But hey, theyâ??re sucky times for the >Internet tooâ??ad rates are way down. Thereâ??s a Depression >on. Itâ??s sucky for everyone who doesnâ??t own a liquor store.

    Newspaper readership was dropping before the recession and will continue to do so afterwards. I don’t agree that newspapers are “doomed”, but they ARE changing, certainly, and the change will not likely be favourable to syndicated cartoonists. You’re the only person I’ve heard of who seems to think otherwise.

    >5. â??Print cartoonists donâ??t want to hear suggestions from >webcartoonists are just trying to be friendly and helpful.â? Far >from it! We would LOVE to pick up helpful tips, and we >would LOVE to share what we know. This is something that >cartoonists have done forever, with younger and older artists >making friends across generations. Unfortunately, all we >seem to hear from â??webcartoonistsâ? is â??you guys suck, >newspapers are going to die, ha ha.â? Which doesnâ??t hurt our >feelings. It bores us because itâ??s stupid.
    >Personally, I have all sorts of webby problems Iâ??d love advice >on.

    You hear negative things from webcartoonists because YOU started dismissing them as worthless kids, dumb video-game nerds and comics wannabes, despite many of them making far better comics than YOU do, and more money than you ever will besides. Any businessman with a brain would have jumped at the chance to get advice from the likes of Ryan Somher or the PA guys, who have built highly successful businesses based on comics. But, back when people were making first impressions, you and several other people on this site went for “pompous jerk” as your first choice, when you could have gone for something more like “polite interest”.

    And yet, people like Zach Weiner are still willing to help you out. You should be pretty damned grateful!

    In that spirit, I’ll add to his answers for your specific points:

    >For example, I have a ComicsPress version of my blog >ready to post, but I hear horror stories about being deluged >by spam. Several people I know have had their ComicsPress >sites hacked and vandalized. Is there a better way?

    Yes, there are a lot of ways to avoid spam… the easiest would be to just disable comments. But if you really want commenting enabled on your site, then you can install fairly advanced captchas (my favourite is the one that gives a simple math problem) to circumvent spam. You can also use a secure server if you are really worried about getting hacked. Make sure to use cacheing software on your site in any case, so that captchas and other plugins don’t eat up too much of your bandwidth. ComicsPress can create cache problems otherwise.

    >In ComicsPress, is it possible to avoid having to rename all >3,500 of my archived comics files so they drop into the >calendar search function? Having to rename 3,500 files from >â??1-4-10.jpgâ? to â??2010-01-04-sample-cartoon.jpgâ? is a pain in >the you-know-what.

    Like Zach said, you need a macro. It’s simple enough to hire someone to write it if you don’t have any friends who can do the code, or, like Zach suggested, asking your Twitter followers for help (“Hey, can anyone help me with a simple macro for renaming comic files?”)

    >I have animated cartoons. Whatâ??s the best way/best place >to show them on a website?

    I assume you mean in terms of site layout rather than hosting? If you have a fair number of them, put each on a separate page with a simple contents page that links to them (if you put all the videos on one page it’ll slow down your loading times). Perhaps a “Animation” tab on the main site that leads to a contents page with thumbnails.

    >Someone commented on the â??wastelandâ? that is my PHPBB >forum. Indeed, I had to give up on it because I get literally >100 spam attacks a day from Russian spambots. Is there a >forum program that is immune to nonsense like this?

    Like Zach said, update PHPBB and search on google for better captcha plugins. I got a custom captcha made by a friend for our site that asks the user to enter the site name, which works very well.

  222. >>> 4. â??Newspapers are doomed.â? No one serious seriously thinks this. Itâ??s obvious that the newspaper business will survive, and probably even thrive, in the near future. Many â??webcartoonistsâ? are too young to recall the Great Newsprint Meltdown of 1994, when high paper prices caused huge layoffs, or the chaos that followed the demise of morning papers. Most older cartoonists do. These are sucky times for newspapers, true. But hey, theyâ??re sucky times for the Internet tooâ??ad rates are way down. Thereâ??s a Depression on. Itâ??s sucky for everyone who doesnâ??t own a liquor store. <<<

    @Ted: The thing is, print isn't dying…but it is going into retirement. Will there still be purists and hangers-on who prefer newsprint to pixels? Of course, there are always purists who like the original recipe, like those people who collect records because they prefer the quality of the sound. That doesn't mean records are the dominant form of music distribution, nor are they all that profitable for any more than a handful of passionate collectors (or DJs).

    I commend your desire to keep print in sight and thus in mind, but the simple fact is that it's a matter of convenience, not preference. If you offer someone a product that provides the same content, but the medium is instantaneous and free as opposed to a day late and a monthly cost, people will overwhelmingly choose the former. No matter how wonderful print may be, it's simply no longer the dominant form of news or entertainment distribution.

    If you're truly interested in reaching this brand new audience of webophiles with your messages, as I assume you are from your previous posts, then calling us uneducated and uninformed losers is probably not the best way to go about it. I would urge you to try and understand what makes gaming or any of the other "lower" forms of entertainment so compelling to our generation, and work with that knowledge rather than dismiss it out of hand. If you're willing to learn and adapt, you'll be fine. But if you're stubborn and unyielding, you'll only suffer.

  223. Hey what’s this thread about? Subway vs Quiznos? Eat Fresh, am I right?

    Anyways, editorial cartoons suck.

  224. Even though it appears that this thread has completely disintegrated, I think is an important point that I hope doesn’t get lost (as was well exemplified by Zach’s posts above).

    There is a ton of different stuff to learn about if you want to EFFECTIVELY develop an online presence. This includes creating a website that is easy to navigate, managing ad spaces, making your content easy to share with social media, self-publishing a book so that you can keep more of the profits, and so on. If you think just having your work online is enough, then you are mistaken.

    But all of this shouldn’t seem as daunting as it sounds because there are many people out there (like Zach) who are willing to go the extra mile to help you out. You just have to ask. In fact, I know people like Ted have complained that online ads don’t make any money, but not so long ago I emailed Zach to ask him about the ad services he was using so that I could more effectively monetize my site. He was more than happy to help me out with this information. Or I used to worry that my site needed a forum, but after asking around I realized that it probably wasn’t worth the trouble at this point. I could go on and on, but the point is: you just have to ask.

  225. I draw comics to make people laugh. You will never convince me that is some how less important than political commentary.

    Also, Abell Smith – I do not know who you are, but you can’t draw. If you are a “cartoonist” and you can’t draw, I have a hard time taking you seriously. Seriously, you should try and draw better.

  226. I don’t have a problem with Abell’s art. I mean, it’s not *awful*. But his strip isn’t funny, or insightful, or thought-provoking. What’s owrse is his website, which is an absolute mess. I should not have to click three separate to see the latest comic. That’s just foolishness.

  227. Hey Mike, I noticed from Wikipedia that you guys were recognized for your contributions to society by the state legislature… Washington State Senate resolution 8640 I believe it was.

    May you be flattened by the Viaduct in the next earthquake because local government wasted a single second on that…

  228. I think my New Year’s resolution should be to stop wasting so much of my time reading pointless Internet drama. It’s like watching a soap opera.

  229. Sadly, as bad as Abell’s art is, Stephanie and Ted’s is even worse. The art in both Penny Arcade and PVP was pretty simplistic back when the guys started, but over the years Mike and Scott have honed their skills and now produce beautifully rendered strips and other artwork. Stephanie and Ted have been at it just as long and still produce crap.

  230. Ted there has been plenty of advice out there including from Kurtz, Guigar et al at

    Except that now that it’s going to cost $30/year which is no problem for a person such as yourself who has always been a proponent of paying for content. Right?

  231. First I am told if I don’t make money I am unworthy of considering myself a cartoonist.

    Next if I don’t make a social statement to impact the world I am unworthy of considering myself a cartoonist.

    NOW if my drawing sucks I am unworthy of considering myself a cartoonist???

    Boy I am royally screwed.

  232. I use WordPress (free) as a content management system (CMS) for my cartoons, and it seems to work okay. I know there are a lot of templates set up for photography sites that should work well for comics too. There may even be some for comics.

    vBulletin just went gold on the release of Version 4, and if you buy the suite you get a CMS and a blog tool too in addition to the forum tool. That puts all three tools under one program.

  233. Except that now that itâ??s going to cost $30/year which is no problem for a person such as yourself who has always been a proponent of paying for content. Right?

    Maybe I read it wrong I really have no idea why you wrote that like some kind of sarcastic gotcha attack. Why would Ted, or for that matter anyone here, be angry at a cartoonist getting a decent financial profit from their work?

    If anything, I would find it ironic that some of the people on that site who espoused the silliness of the pay-for-content model are explaining, nearly verbatim, the argument that print cartoonists make for being paid by their editors. I hope is a successful model, but I fail to see how of anyone here being a hypocrite, you suggest it’s Ted, who has quite frequently objected to the free content model.

    I draw comics to make people laugh. You will never convince me that is some how less important than political commentary.

    Fair enough, but I certainly don’t go to Penny Arcade to get political opinions and I can enjoy the message of certain political cartoons without laughing openly. I don’t see how either is more “important” than the other from the perspective of the creator. If the audience responds positively, then it’s a success.

  234. I’m not against the subscription model. I just don’t think it can work for webcomics. I see providing niche advice to a niche audience.

    Different audiences and different sectors need to be monetised in different ways. That’s why for instance the NYTimes gives it’s content away for free online but the WSJ can still charge for certain of it’s sections and why investment newsletters charge top dollar and give nothing away.

    It’s the nature of audience that determines the strategy.

  235. “Ted there has been plenty of advice out there including from Kurtz, Guigar et al at”

    But no SOLID advice on how to make money beyond nickles and dimes. At least not in Engish.

    Anyway, more power to those guys…charging $30/year hardly seems like much. Of course, it does confirm the Amway model of webcomics–the money in webcomics is convincing other suckers to get into webcomics.

  236. I don’t think the guys at are under any illusion that they’re going to be earning much from the paywall. The market prepared to pay is far too niche for that.

    It seem hey’re hoping to make enough to compensate Brad Guigar and the columnists they have (they mentioned Robert Khoo and Kurtz). I would guess they would be overjoyed with 1000 paying subscribers.

  237. Do you have an answer to the question in comment #167 Ted?
    It is, as you put it “the whole crux of the debate.”

    Answer the question sir, it would be rude not too.

  238. “But no SOLID advice on how to make money beyond nickles and dimes. At least not in Engish.”

    That sir is a bold faced lie. I am a reader of webcomics and not a maker, but even I have picked up a good amount of clearly understandable information on how to make money with a moderately successful webcomic. That you have blocked your ears to such, or have some vested interest in misrepresenting the amount of money that can be made as ‘nickles and dimes’ is entirely on you and not on the available information.

    I don’t see how any rational person can attempt to return to the ‘but they don’t *really* make money’ argument at this point in time. Especially considering the multitude or artists earning living wages and more with the webcomic business model.

  239. I have a dumb question that I’ll ask because I’m too busy to investigate right now.

    I know, there are no dumb questions, only dumb people asking questions.

    The people who are making gobs of cash at webcomics seem to have a lot going on aside from just comics. They have “staffs” doing “stuff” that’s a bit outside of the realm of comic strips.

    Say I’m Bill Watterson (oh, please say it). I don’t want a staff. I just want to make comics. I don’t want to be rich. I just want as much as a warehouse worker (with good overtime pay).

    Selling books, attending conventions, making T-Shirts is all fine and dandy. But too much extra stuff sounds more like you’re a person who does webcomics for your business. I have comics on several car dealership websites, but I’m not going to lay claim to the revenue from selling cars (which is a part of my paycheck).

    So are there good examples of somebody just selling comics and books making a living? XKCD. He has a day job, right? Maybe he doesn’t need a day job. Like I said, I’ll have to search around to see who is doing what.

    There’s too many good webcomics that aren’t making money, and it’s a shame.

  240. @Stephen Beals

    Randall Munroe most certainly doesn’t have a day job. If he did, why would he be giving 30,000 dollars to found a school in Laos. Google XKCD and Laos. You’ll be impressed.

    As for the staffs – I think you’re misunderstanding how staffs work for webcartoonists. We have staffs so that we only have to do comics. I used to have to do lots of clerical work involving shirts, prints, and other minor stuff. Now I have an assistant, so 90% of my time is creative work. I gave ad management to middlemen and t-shirt management to Topatoco for the same reason.

    Many of us do a lot of conventions. Personally, I prefer to stay at home when possible. I do a few, mostly to see friends and meet people. However, I’m perfectly at liberty not to.

    Syndicated cartoonists have use of the staffs of a syndicate, but webcartoonists do not. So, we have to have staffs of our own. That doesn’t mean we’re doing less creative work. It’s just the opposite. We have helpers so we can focus on comics.

  241. “Of course, it does confirm the Amway model of webcomicsâ??the money in webcomics is convincing other suckers to get into webcomics”

    Ted, isnt that kinda biased? I mean, everyone here draws comics. One way or another. We were all inspired by some one elses drawings. Garfield, Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, we were all inspired to take this creative path. So, would this mean your a sucker for getting into comics (yes you said “webcomics” but they are no different than comics in the newspaper, and I dare you to show me how they are)? Does that mean that all Wil Eisner is a sucker? How about Bill Watterson? What makes them any different than us? Now add into the mix of Scott Kurtz, Mike Krahulik, Tatsuya Ishida. All of these people were inspired to draw comics. And they inspire people to draw comics as well. Who inspired you Ted? Who inspired you to draw comics? has been running daily updates for 2-3 years mainly by Brad Guigar, who somehow can bend the laws of time and space to get everything he needs to get done complete. And the fact that has been running without ads or anything surprised me. So I see this as a good thing. I have gotten a massive amount of help since I started my comic by reading that site.

    There is a saying one of my old teachers gave to me in middle school. “You cant get something for nothing. Nothing is free.” That cant be more true when it comes to comics. Both print and web. Brad (Halfpixel if you want to be specific, Im only naming Guigar since he more or less ran the entire site) was loosing money by putting all that content and not getting any return. It was bound to get to be too much and the model came in.

    I pay(ed) $15 a month for World of Warcraft, $20 a year for Rooster Teeth sponsorship (which I only see the series I pay for Red vs Blue early and sometimes extended episodes, only a few months of the year during its season run). $30 is nothing givin that I am getting help from a community of cartoonists i trust. And like Guigar stated before, offers help, not entertainment.

  242. If nothing else, this 300 post collection has at least introduced me to some great webcomics I wasn’t already aware of.

    So yeah, there is that.

    And I’m still waiting to see if Ted has the sack to reply to Ryan Sohmer…

  243. Joe, if I am not mistaking, Dave Kellett has also offered to show him at one point. Thats if I am remembering correctly though.

    And yea, amazing at the wealth of entertainment trolling can bring you. 😀

  244. Thanks Zach! Dumb questions get cleared up easily, huh? I have something to shoot for, then.

    I wasn’t aware of the school in Laos until this recently. Very impressive, indeed.

    Big SMBC fan, btw.

    @Joe Hunt, yes there’s some great comics being made by the people in this thread.

  245. “Of course, it does confirm the Amway model of webcomicsâ??the money in webcomics is convincing other suckers to get into webcomics.”

    That statement is false, as plenty of others have attempted to show you, myself included.

    You ignore what ever doesn’t fit into your vision of how things should be. From where I’m standing, that makes you more of a politician than an editorial cartoonist.

  246. That’s a good observation, Ryan, but I was thinking that Ted is our Rush Limbaugh.

    I’ve enjoyed a great deal of Ted’s work, but cherry picking facts is the style of all the popular political entertainers.

    The Scientific Method cries out in pain.

  247. Unless that time I fell on my head is affecting me, I remember that my challenge was to Scott Kurtz, since he was the one ranting on and on about how much moolah he made and anyone could make “if they had a good work ethic” or whatever. Anyway…

    And yes, Ted, Iâ??d be more than happy to show you my companyâ??s and my own personal tax returns.

    Tell me, how much do you make?

    I’m happy to show you mine, Ryan. However, I do assume you’ll subtract the income you make from your company, which represents other people’s comics properties. After all, that is in no way part of *your* business a a webcartoonist.


    You ignore what ever doesnâ??t fit into your vision of how things should be.

    Wow. Finally–common ground! Because, Ryan et al., the webcomics commandments–

    I. Thou shalt not accept payment.
    II. Thou shalt not appear in print.
    III. Thou shalt not produce work that relates in any way to the real world.
    IV. Thou shalt take the name of your elders in vain.
    V. Thou shalt not whine about being paid three- and four-figure annual salaries for thy toil.
    VI. Thou shalt await the Arrival of the Magic Tablet That Shall Finally Resolve the Non-Existent Ad Rates Dilemma until said Tablet comes, which may well be never, but whatever.

    –sound too much like religion to be taken seriously.

  248. Wow. I find it VERY amusing that Ted’s post, invoking a random set of “commandments” that make NO sense and don’t mesh with anything anyone has said in this thread immediately follows Stephen saying:

    “Iâ??ve enjoyed a great deal of Tedâ??s work, but cherry picking facts is the style of all the popular political entertainers.”

    Well done, Ted. That pretty much places your position firmly in the realm of “crackpot”.

    Nobody in webcomics has said that you SHOULDN’T appear in print (defined as print media produced by a publisher rather than self-published). They state that you don’t NEED to in order to succeed, which has been demonstrated by the many successful webcomics that don’t even have self-published print collections yet (Questionable Content, SMBC, Cyanide and Happiness, etc etc). Nobody has said that you CAN’T accept payments for your work… in fact, many webcomics artists accept commissions on a regular basis. MOST comics in ANY medium don’t relate in any way to the real world (ie, aren’t political cartoons), and if your opinion is that only political cartoons have value, then I think I can safely say that most cartoonists in print OR web disagree with you. I assume that “take the name of your elders in vain” is some sort of whining “you kids don’t got no respect” comment, which is just pathetic. It’s not “the older generation” being disrespected, it’s just YOU and your ridiculous ideas. And LOTS of webcomic artists whine about not earning big salaries, just as lots of cartoonists who submit to the Syndicates whine that they didn’t get in. The ones who don’t whine are the ones who made it (so, the ones with much higher salaries).

    And lastly, who the hell said anything about waiting for the tablet? People are earning a living from the web NOW.

  249. Cute.

    I was planning on showing you a breakdown of my personal income, to show you what my personal comics (Least I Could Do & Looking For Group) generate.

    Without anything else that Blind Ferret does, either LICD or LFG could support 4 people alone, with the salaries I mentioned above.

    To be clear, doing Least I Could Do could provide for myself, Lar (the artist), an assistant and a manager.

    If you’ll provide me with your contact information, I’ll have an NDA sent over, and we can begin.

  250. All these comments/debates aside, Scott, heading back 318 comments… well done! 😉 A successful webcartoonist into the mainstream consciousness as a model for success. I think that’s excellent.
    And ever since they cancelled “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns,” I’m SO glad I have the Daily Cartoonist soaps to watch! LOL (I eat these debates UP!) Booyah!

  251. Ah, poor Ted Rall,
    Just listen to him squall,
    What a whiney know-it-all,
    And he wants that shiny ball
    That the Web kids have.

    But when they toss it to him,
    He quits in mad confusion
    Accusing them of every kind of crime!
    “Those nasty web-based artists
    Give me cooties with their baseless
    Claims of making money just like me!
    There’s no way on this green earth
    They could profit from their stuff
    Which by the way they give away for FREE!
    So they must be faking all the income –
    Who knows where it all comes from?
    The important thing is Print is here to stay…”

    Yes, Ted, repeat that mantra,
    After all, your fans still want ya,
    And anyway, you “do the web” as well,
    So if someone does it better,
    “That’s unimportant – no one cares here,
    And by the way, money doesn’t matter anymore!
    In fact the only thing that means much
    Are my political pronouncements
    Proving to you Web folks Print is KING!
    What? What did you say?
    Stop laughing at me – Hey!
    Web Cartoonists are so cocky!
    How dare you try to mock me!
    Entertainment’s not important, no-siree,
    I dismiss each and every cartoon
    Whether internet or newsroom
    Except for the cartoons signed by ME.
    Yes, those ones are important,
    Drawn by that awesome giant
    That towering figure swings a mighty pen, can’t you all see?
    So bow down to my greatness and I’ll publicly confess
    my excellence comes from true humility…”

  252. I humbly apologize to the comics community for everything I have said and done that led to dozens of innocent people reading the above poem.

    We’ll never get those brain cells back, will we?

  253. Lot of funny stuff in here. And drama. There’s break ups and reunions. Hmmm….

    We missed the boat. The T-Shirt should’ve read “I’m killing SOAPS by reading internet forums”.

    Much more accurate.

  254. Over 300 posts is pretty impressive, until you compare that number to the THOUSANDS that aren’t being posted by the cartoonists who are sick and tired of this specious argument.

  255. I do hope Tedd used protection with you, Scott. It doesn’t sound like he gave much foreplay though. 😉

    Personally… I don’t like subscription models. Donation models work better, especially if there are carrots given for donations (say exclusive content or the like). But putting up a subscription wall will exclude people who don’t want to pay it. Take the Wall Street Journal; there are many articles in it I see online through Google News I’d love to read. I hit that wall, I click the little “close tab” button, and I move to the next news story. In doing so I don’t bother with any of the online advertising or the like (though considering I’m using Firefox 3.5, a lot of the advertisers are blocked anyway to prevent malware intrusions; if they’d actually be reliable and ferret out those viruses, I’d not be blocking most of them).

    The Internet has long been built on free content. This is the great bane for subscription models. Why should I pay for something when I can find something similar elsewhere for free? It might work if you have something tremendously valuable… but for a hobby such as webcomics? I don’t see it working for long.

    Rob H.

  256. @zach, @ted

    ****Someone commented on the â??wastelandâ? that is my PHPBB forum. Indeed, I had to give up on it because I get literally 100 spam attacks a day from Russian spambots. Is there a forum program that is immune to nonsense like this?

    >>>>Update your software. So-called â??captchaâ? (anti-spambot login stuff) improves with every iteration of phpbb. Also, more importantly, get yourself some loyal dedicated geeks to mod the forum.

    That said, a forum is by no means necessary for a comic. And, all but the biggest comics tend to have very small desolate communities.

    >>Also, hire/farm out to a community moderator. Even the best tools aren’t immune and can’t prevent everything.

    A good online community needs a good online community moderator, someone who not only understands the audience, but also understands the topic.

  257. Either Ted genuinely doesn’t understand that hard-working, talented people can make a living from webcomics, or this is an intense display of willful ignorance. Given the similarity between the name T. Rall and the term ‘troll’ I lean towards the latter. I’m sure I’m not the first to make that comparison. I suggest everyone here starts behaving like sensible forum users and ignores the trall that is hijacking this thread for the purpose of attention-seeking.

    I’d like to congratulate Scott on his public engagements. It must be something to find that you are considered a leader in your field, not only by your peers but by professionals in other industries – especially when all you set out to do is what you wanted to do when you were a kid: draw funny pictures.

  258. He’s not a troll. He’s Ted. Comics can have bite and make national news, and many times it’s Ted’s cartoon you’re hearing about that’s caused a fuss.

    I made the “Ted the Troll” comment (which I still think would be a cute stuffed animal).

    I backed off because he is an extremely effective editorial cartoonist, if you look at his career objectively, and there is a lot of good stuff tucked inside of the exploitation.

    I do sense, however, that Ted is sometimes taping his cartoons on the outside of the the Daily Cartoonist “building”, just like the old days in New York.

  259. Stephen Beals,

    I am British, so Ted will have to make international news before I hear of his cartoons causing a fuss. Perhaps he’ll be the next Kurt Westergaard?

    The only image I have of Ted is based on his conduct here. Using a blatant ‘straw man’ argument (inventing specious webcomic ‘commandments’ just so that he can criticise them) does not serve to make me think that he has a point.

    The original post was an announcement that Scott will be talking about ‘what digital self-publishing means to creators and publishers, and how devices like the upcoming Apple Tablet could continue to tip the balance in favor of independent artists’, something that he has experience of. Ted’s original comment was apparently based on the misapprehension that Scott was instead going to talk about syndication, so either Ted misread the post, or was deliberately trolling.

    I’m not saying that I think Ted is a good or bad cartoonist/journalist, nor do I agree or disagree with his political views. I’m certainly not saying because I think he’s either being an idiot or a jerk right here in this discussion, everything he’s ever done is null and void and of no merit. I just think he’s making an ass of himself with every post he makes, nothing more, nothing less.

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