The future is undrawn
Ted Rall has a new hee-larious animated cartoon! Here’s a still from it. Notice the product placement — a Bunnista t-shirt! Thanks Ted!!
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Back to the interview for Scott Nickel’s blog, which already has a bunch of great interviews with cartoonists and is worth checking out.
7. What’s the future of comics? The Internet? iTunes? The Kindle?
It could be any or all of these (and definitely cell phones), except that we’re in the process of not only an economic collapse, but also a catastrophic ecological collapse — which means human civilization is going down too. In the future, when electronics are nothing more than heaping mounds of toxic junk, the few survivors will draw cartoons on the crumbling walls of abandoned houses.
In the meantime, though, people want to read comics online and on their phones and ipods and everywhere they read everything else. People have a primal need for jokes and stories. Of course, as a cartoonist I would like a mechanism to develop that would make it a paying profession for more than a few people, no matter what the venue. Otherwise, as we see with the decline of journalism, we’ll end up with an endless cycle of young hopefuls who struggle to squeeze a bit of coin from the vague promise of “exposure” (or do it for love after earning money elsewhere), before giving up in frustration and the next wave of young hopefuls takes their place.
There are good and bad things about that cycle, which is already in play. We gain an endless variety of comics blessed with freshness and enthusiasm, but must sift through a lot of crap to find the good ones. The art form has become more accessible and democratic, but we’re losing some of the pros who have spent years honing their craft. Some of the pros had become lazy and deserve to fail; others will be missed.
All of the independent cartoonists I know, whether they focus on the web or on print, talk and strategize endlessly about how to make a living. It takes iron discipline and a lot of slogging hard work. They must develop good business skills and configure multiple revenue streams. On the web, it’s advertising and merchandise (including books). In print, it’s cultivating clients, and doing illustration work or graphic novels on the side. Usually (certainly in my case) it’s a blend of everything, whatever works. In either realm, making a living usually means that we have to spend more of our time marketing and selling than actually creating comics.
A lot of us didn’t realize this when we decided to become cartoonists. In our daydreams, we sit at our desks, left alone in peace to create soaring works of genius while cash magically appears. Sadly, it’s easier to win the lottery than to achieve that glorious condition.
Comics as an art form is in transition, and flowering. There’s so much great work everywhere, and so much stupid crap as well. People will try everything, display comics in a million places. I don’t know what will end up working and what won’t — the evolution of media is rapid and unpredictable. With persistence, luck, and a determination to hone business skills whether we like them or not, those who draw good comics will find their audiences.
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8. Tell us about your graphic novel, As the World Burns: 50 Simple Things You Can Do
to Stay in Denial.
9. Name five of your favorite cartoonists or comics.
10. How do you develop ideas? Which comes first, words or pictures?