Another Book To Buy - Arlo & Janis

I am old enough to remember every year of the comic "Arlo & Janis", having first encountered it 25 years ago in the Chicago Sun Times (a paper we subscribed to simply because it had better comics than the Chicago Tribune).

I remember that Arlo & Janis was the first comic that my then newlywed self read that seemed to understand modern marriage in an honest - not simply gag driven - kind of way. And, they obviously were having sex. Which is something you weren't really allowed to do in a newspaper comic strip in those days. (Heck, you can barely do it now). I think of Arlo and Janis as sort of the Rob and Laura Petrie of comics. Rob and Laura may have had twin beds onscreen but we all knew what they were doing off screen :-)

Long overdue, Jimmy Johnson has just released a hardcover 256 page coffee table book collection of over 950 strips (let's call it a Treasury) titled "Beaucoup Arlo & Janis" which you can buy here.

Jimmy will also be appearing this Saturday in Memphis TN to sign copies of the book. He doesn't make that many public appearances so, if you are a fan, I highly suggest you clear your calendar for Saturday and high tail it over to Memphis. Details are over on "Spot The Cartoonist".

You can also read an excellent interview with Jimmy here.

Reader Feedback and Crickets

One of the most challenging aspects of being a cartoonist is working in a vacuum, so to speak. You write and illustrate a joke and lob it out into the public sphere with no earthly idea of how it will be received. To quote Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine, “If I had a fragile ego, it would have hurt. You work by yourself and you think you’re funny. A stand-up comedian has no delusions whether they’re funny or not.” 

That quote comes from Stephan's experience of shooting videos for inclusion into his just released app "Only The Pearls".

And he's right, a standup comedian finds out very quickly what is funny. The audience is not too difficult to read - they're either laughing or they're not.

Of course, humor is also subjective, what one audience finds funny could generate the sound of crickets chirping with another, but if no one laughs at your jokes, chances are you're not "too hip for the room", you're simply not funny.

Thanks to the internet, most cartoonists now get some sort of direct feedback from their readers, either via email or in the comments sections of sites where their comics run. Sometimes the feedback is negative, sometimes it's positive - luckily for us, the positives outweigh the negatives by quite a large margin.

But the comments I personally find most interesting are the ones that make me laugh, especially if the reader has contributed something that makes me look at the strip again in a different way.

Here are two recent comments on Dailyink from strips that ran within the past seven days:

Well, if he thinks Kim Kardashian is beautiful, just five it a really hot paint job and it'll be fantastic. Doesn't  matter if what's inside is crap.

I love this comment because A) it made both John and me laugh out loud and B) the commentor has picked up an element John hadn't even thought of when he wrote the strip. He grabbed a name that readers would know (heck the woman is on every magazine cover in every grocery check out aisle) and it turns out that, as an added bonus, said woman is also very shallow and, frankly, a mess. This reader's comment brings a whole new dimension to the strip for me.

Of course almost nob nobody knows what the what the professor's actual name was (Roy Hinkley). I wonder if he was any relation to John - an uncle, perhaps?

This comment simply made us laugh. Oh, and taught me something I didn't know which was the Professor's actual name.

So to all you readers out there, keep those comments coming - I can't say I see them all, I often forget to check on them - but I do see a lot.