Comic Artists: Times They Are A Changin’
July 12, 2012 12 Comments
This statement may or may not come as a huge surprise: Comics are part of my DNA.
They have been ground into my fiber since as long as I can remember. That’s no big revelation. Hell, most of my friends have ink running through their blood. As most of you know, I recently retired Pinkerton. It was an excruciating decision for me. One that I continually ponder, doubt, juggle, etc. When I stop and consider my situation, I didn’t end Pinkerton because I had nothing left to say. I didn’t end it because I was bored or because of a lack of passion. The truth of the matter is that I saw the writing on the wall (for me anyway). It was a sprawling message spray-painted in huge dripping letters… Not only for me but for all comic artists and fans.
COMICS INDUSTRY NEEDS HELP!
Right about now you’re saying, “No shit, Sherlock.”
We, comic fans and creators alike, need to find a new business model. Here’s the dilemma… Plain and simple: The Internet.
In the days of yore, readers were consuming their comics in their daily newspaper. The paper cost them money, sure. But realistically, it FELT like they were getting something for free. A bonus. Cripes, most of the comic readers were under the age of 16 so they weren’t dropping a dime on their local news rag. Yet behind the scenes, our favorite artists were getting paid… some very well. That illusion of “free” was great. It was powerful. It was fun. And for a time, it was lucrative for the elite group of syndicated artists who made the cut.
Flash forward a decade or two: Along comes Al Gore’s invention… The interwebs. Suddenly, folks could read comics faster and more conveniently. AND they still had that magical free feeling. They’re not paying a dime. Only this time there’s no editors behind the scenes paying our comic heroes to put out. And on top of that, our hardworking artists suddenly had to be tech-savvy, marketing-savvy and, in most cases, have the time and ability to contribute whimsical blogs to go along with their comics. Three times the work for zilcho pay. Don’t even get me started on Twitter and Facebook.
The other problem with the internet was/is the sheer flood of comic horseshit. The internet is a dumping ground. There’s a lot of shmoes out there who claim to be artists/cartoonists simply because they SAY they are. I don’t mean to offend anyone. I’m simply calling it like I see it. You’re ruining the world.
For years now, editors and syndicates have been literally SCRAMBLING for their livelihood. Clawing for a foothold in an environment that is terrifying and uncertain. I have had the pleasure of speaking with both successful, established ‘toonists as well as new professionals in the development and early-release phases of their careers. And both of those groups share a similar sentiment. They are scared shitless because they can’t see over the horizon.
Maybe the comics strip as we knew it is dying. I’d hate to think that, but maybe it is. Maybe we all need to sacrifice our creativity and artistic talent to the marketing and sales gods. I’m hoping for a better answer than “time to change”, but maybe that writing is on the wall.