Julie Larson: Making Newspaper Comics Pay

I was nodding with agreement as I read Julie Larson's (THE DINETTE SET) analysis of the newspaper comics industry ("No Laughing Matter," by Steve Tartar for today's Peoria Journal Star).

"Cartoons are directly tied to the fate of the newspaper, Larson said. When the Seattle Post-Intelligencier dropped its print edition last year to produce an online-only publication, Larson saw her compensation drop from $375 for four Sunday strips to $40.

"Larson recently decided to drop her affiliation with Creators Syndicate. Instead, she plans to market 'The Dinette Set' herself."

By taking the duties of marketing and networking THE DINETTE SET away from the syndicate, she may save the money that the syndicate was charging, but now there's that new challenge of balancing the business side of the long-running panel with the creative side.

Tartar goes on to get a few views of the state of comics today. I'm a big believer that the comics page is like TV: you don't necessarily look at everything. My "stale and recycled" poison is another person's meat.

Mike Gioia and roommate Alex Tuller,who create a Web strip APOKALIPS, are featured as part of the "new model" of cartooning, which isn't making them money -- but they still love it. And Mike can afford to love it, he splits the rent with Alex and he works fulltime for a Manhattan office of PricewaterhouseCooper. This is not a "new model" for a working cartoonist, this is cartooning as hobby.

From the article:

"'The Internet is the monster that ate reason, a thief in the night that turned loyalty to a 150-year profession into a homeless shadow of itself,' she said. 'There needs to be a way to compensate cartoonists fairly or there will be no more comics.'"

I think Julie's wrong about this. There will always be comics, but more and more of them will be drawn by people like Mike Gioia, who has the fulltime job and the health coverage that allow him the luxury of creating a cartoon for free.

Hat tip to Tom Spurgeon for this. Thanks, Tom.

Related: Mike Lynch Cartoons: Monetizing Your Cartoons.

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