Can Facebook Bring Profitability to Comics on the Web?

Facebook has been gradually adding more and more services for which they charge a fee. The latest is a partnership with Lala and involves sending people songs for a 1o cent fee. It looks as though the micropayment idea is alive and well on Facebook - could this be the future of profitability of comics online? 

I have long advocated a micropayment system for online sharing of comics. I hope the syndicates are busy hammering out agreements of this sort and that revenue will stream back to their comic creators. I can tell you I would much rather send a friend a comic than fake flowers or some of the other things folks send over the internet :-)

Throw Away Panel 9/13-10/25

I meant to post these two days ago. Sunday's strip features a strongman tower similar to one which first appeared in the throw away panel from 9/13.  (Although the throw away for this week was just a simple mallet so I'm posting from the body of the strip instead.)

As you can see, it got a lot more elaborate as it became the focus of the later strip.

I Hate Halloween

I hate Halloween. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word. But it's definitely not my favorite holiday. 

As a kid, it ranked right up there with my favorites. Probably only third behind Christmas and Easter. With those two, Halloween completed the trifecta of candy holidays. As in "You, the child, will receive copious amounts of sugary treats on these three days of the year. The other 362 it's back to unsweetened cereals and whole grain bread." (My mother was a health nut - never any sign of a Hostess Twinkie or any other Hostess product within 20 yards of our house. Maybe this is one reason Orville gets to eat so many of them.)

When did this change? When did my aversion to Halloween begin? I'll tell you. 


I can tell you exactly because that was the year our first child turned four and our second child turned one.

That was the year I met the other moms. 

The ones who sew

The ones who would never be caught dead buying their kid a Halloween costume. Who equated parental love with a willingness to make oneself nuts making a perfect homemade Trick or Treating outfit extraordinaire. 

Now I am creative and artistic and can paint and crochet and knit with the best of them. I can even sew. Sort of. Basically I sew rectangles. I can make pillows and tote bags and valances and can even sort of slipcover cushions (I didn't photograph the back of these - you would see how much of their perfect fit is owed to the glories of duct tape). But sewing things that actually have to fit on curves and around ankles - well, you can't duct tape the kid into the Halloween costume. I think they call DCFS on you.

Not only did this group of new friends make perfect costumes for their kids, they also made them for themselves. Every year for about ten years we were part of a group that had a big Halloween party where everyone had to wear a costume. And this brings me to the other reason I now hate Halloween. 

I hate dressing up in costumes of any kind. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

I gave it a good shot the first year we went to the party - John and I made everyone bird costumes. (Though coloring bedsheets with spray paint - not a good idea. Massive toxic fumes. Fortunately only on our costumes - the kids were in non toxic yellow jammies or something). 

I think I even came up with something pretty good the following year. But then something snapped. Then the party became, for me, a sort of game where I would see how little I could do to dress up. 

Non-costumes I can recall: 

The Artist - I threw on a grubby "painter's" shirt and carried around a palette and paint brush.
The Farmer's Wife - the same jeans and shirt and shoes from the previous year - I ditched the painter's accessories and put my hair in braids.
The Poet - I dressed all in black,  put on dark, dark lipstick, and wrote up about 20 fortune cookie-esque poems to be handed out upon request.
The Princess - I put on one of my old Bridesmaid dresses.
The Harpist - really a cop out - I just wore what I usually wear to a gig. 

and my personal favorite:

The Failure of The Women's Movement - this costume also included my then five year old daughter. She went as a princess and I put my hair in a bun, found one of my mom's old June Cleaver type dresses from the 50's, and a double strand of fake pearls. I got this idea only days earlier when attending a Halloween/Birthday party for one of my daughter's classmates. I kid you not - every girl at the party was a fairy or a princess and every boy was The Hulk or Spiderman. How far we've come :-)

John, on the other hand, excels at making costumes. Except for the year he went as a painting (when I was the painter - get it?) he usually puts a lot of time and talent into costuming.  I especially remember the year son number two wanted to be a character from Sonic the Hedgehog. John made this out of a bicycle helmet. It took days.

And here is the infamous R2D2 costume. You can read all about the genesis of this over on John's recent lab notes.

So, in closing, I'll wish you all a Happy Halloween. I'll happily buy $40 worth of candy and pass it out to the neighborhood children, and you too, if you stop by. 

Just don't ask me to dress up.


Perhaps I find this so funny because we own a little terrier like this and the strip is so true :-)

Also, this gives me an opportunity to give a little shout out to Patrick McDonnell in general as I consider him to be a genius at color. When I started doing the color for John I looked around the comics at how color comics generally look. I checked out "The Art of Patrick McDonnell" at the library (our paper does not carry Mutts, more's the pity) and I was thoroughly blown away, both  by his art work and his use of color. If I can contribute color to Edison that is even one tenth the quality of Mutts I can die happy :-)

Beer Day

Today must have been beer day. We didn't get the memo.

Killed Cartoon

Check out John's lab notes for a cartoon he was unable to run recently.

I know it may seem redundant to post here about posts there, but I do it because we just cannot get the comments to work on that part of the site. One of the reasons we added this other blog was so that readers could post comments - John does check this blog regularly so if one ever had any comments to pass along to him, here (or his site email) is the place to do it :-) 

Comics Kingdom (Again!)

"There's no such thing as a free lunch". 

That's a pretty old saying, and I'm not really sure where it originated, but it's still true. Pretty much nothing is free. It may be free for you but someone, somewhere is paying. You may not personally pay for every meal you eat, but someone else is - either your parents or your spouse or your employer or even your local charitable community if you're eating at a homeless shelter. If this is not true for you and you really are eating for free and not through the charity of someone else, I can only assume you are stealing food to eat.

The same is true of your entertainment. Unless you are deliberately stealing the movies and TV shows you watch, you have two choices: either pay for the content directly through a subscription service like cable (or even go straight to the movie theater) or else watch network or public television, both of which are subsidized - one by supporters and pledges, one by advertising. Even if you are watching things on Youtube or the internet, I challenge you to find much entertainment out there that doesn't come with advertising. 

So how does this tie in to Comics Kingdom? I'm getting to that. For years both cartoonists and the public have lamented the small number of comics in newspapers, not to mention complaints about size and legibility, which are ever shrinking in an effort to reduce costs. Many papers engage in comic polls to help them decide which comics to run as they try to please readers without spending too much money on the comics page. For years, folks have told their newspapers they not only don't want to drop any comics, they would actually like to have more comics in the paper. Whatever newspapers would like to believe about which section of their product is most important, comics still draw readers more than anything else. 

So here's your chance. If you still prefer to read your newspaper in print, go ahead and keep doing that. (I love the portability of my paper, as well as how easy it is to cut things out and save them - without using up  my own printer paper and ink) But if you are one of those people who now gets all their news online, please consider clicking one of the links below and checking out the papers who are carrying comics kingdom. And if you find that you really like being able to read every comic king features carries (while having the expense of producing the comic supported by advertising) while also being able to get to the host newspaper's other content as well, keep going there daily. And, if you like what you see but would rather read your own local paper online instead, contact your paper and ask them to sign up for comics kingdom. And if you really want to support the comics, be sure to click on some of the ads on that page. (Remember, it's not readership that's so down right now, it's ad revenue. Clicking on these ads will encourage future advertising on these sites - allowing you to continue to view content) Now is your opportunity to show papers how readers start their day reading comics and then turn to other sections of the newspaper.

One disclaimer: So far, the revenue for artists from comics kingdom is more mysterious than the revenue from dailyink. This means that the best way to support the comics you like directly is to continue to subscribe to dailyink. The fee is small, (I mean, come on, $15.00 for a whole year of as many of King's comics as you like!) the feature is convenient - delivered to your emailbox every morning, and revenue is directly shared between the distributor (King) and the creator.

So here are links for all the comics kingdom papers of which I am currently aware. If you know of others, pass them along and I'll add them to the list, as I intend to update this post regularly. In the spirit of brazen self promotion, these links will take you directly to Edison first - after you arrive you can browse to your heart's content. And please take a minute to vote for your favorites using the stars in the lower right hand corner. You do not need to be a registered comics kingdom user to do this. 

The Oregonian (Portland)
Times Picayune (New Orleans)
News Leader (Springfield MO)
Birmingham News (Alabama)
Spokesman Review (Spokane WA)
Post Standard (Syracuse NY)
Patriot News (Pennsylvania)
Journal News (Hamilton OH)
Western Star (Lebanon OH)
Oxford Press (Oxford OH)
The Republican (Massachusetts) 
Longmont Call (Colorado)
The Monitor (McAllen TX)

One more quick note - some of these sites seem to work better with firefox than they do with safari. If you experience problems accessing the site, it may be your browser. I'm sure either King Features, or the paper in question, or both, would be interested to hear about any difficulties accessing their content.


So many good ones today, but these two got my biggest laughs.


I absolutely HATE it when this happens! Can you see it? Can you? Bet it takes you all of a nanosecond. And yet I didn't see it until reading the strip on dailyink today. In the words of Homer "Doh!"

Gill is Back!

He's baaaack! One of John's and my favorites strips is Gill by Norm Feuti. The character has been on hiatus over the summer but is now back and part of a new, updated website for all Norm's projects. You can find all things Norm here.

Smaller Than a Dime

I came across this post by Tom Richmond the other day. In it he shows a portion of an illustration he colored. He spent over 20 minutes on it, later to realize the final image would be smaller than a dime. This came to represent a waste of time on his part and he has since changed the level of detail in his coloring. I absolutely understand his reasoning and accept his decision, especially as Tom frequently works on large, very intricate illustrations. 

Only, here's the thing....

Pretty much everything I color turns out smaller than a dime :-)

I easily spent 20 minutes coloring all this food (some of you may remember it from an earlier post). And, if the dime in these photos doesn't give you a proper sense of scale, to the right of Orville in the second picture is the head of one of the kids from family circus. 

After reading Tom's post, I gave some thought to my coloring process - should I really be scaling back on detail? I decided no. I made this decision based on the fact that, unlike a lot of illustration work that will be primarily viewed in print, what I do is seen every day mostly by people on the internet. Very few of John's print papers actually carry the dailies in color. Not only are the images larger on dailyink and comics kingdom, they have zoom features on those services. It is true that the images have their resolution seriously reduced to save on bandwidth, but I'm going to stick with the detail for now.