Notes From Underground Comix
As part of an anniversary celebration, The Comics Journal did a series of "conversations" between cartoonists. The conversation between Ted Rall and Matt Bors struck a chord with something I've been mulling over in my mind. How to make any fucking money in the cartoon business.
About a year ago, I posted about the Print Comics Apocalypse and the increasing difficulties of trying to make a buck from creating art. Editorial cartoons have a short shelf life, and syndication is a shrinking outlet.I don't even try anymore with that avenue. You can tell from the archives when I stopped trying.I started drawing stuff like this Denny Hastert Cure for Republican Sex Scandals.
Only a handful of diehard fans will ever purchase a collection of single panel type editorial cartoons. But maybe one day I'll be motivated enough to put my favorites in a book, just for the hell of it.
If you check the archives, or have a copy of Grill Rats #1, you can also see where I stopped trying to create a strip that might be considered for syndication, or publication in a print newspaper, (Hello, Daily Iowan!). It's the point where I stopped using the "F@#K%$" type euphemism...
...For the actual word "Fucking".
I've kept Zencomix ad free for 5 years. It would seem pointless to start now as I don't generate enough traffic. Placing ads may even drive traffic down as pages will take longer to load. At Blue Gal's Salon the other night, we briefly chatted about ad revenues, and money from ads seems to have dried up. So, what's left?
Books. Ye Olde Graphic Novel. Comic books. Mini-comics. Cartoons with stories have a wider appeal in book form than the one shot editorial cartoons in book form, so that's where I'm headed. I've been drawing Grill Rats for the blog, and compiling it in book form, but I've decided to draw directly for the book. The only way to possibly make any money is to stop giving it all away for free on the blog. Giving it away for free on the blog is a great way to gain exposure, but there is no incentive for somebody to buy a book when it's all there for free on the blog.
I'll continue drawing the occasional one shot editorial cartoons, and posting them for all to see for free. I'll probably post some excerpts from the comic books also. One of the benefits of drawing for the book instead of for the blog will be the tightening up of the story. As the need for daily continuity has been disposed of, I can spend more energy on advancing the story, developing a character, or working more on backgrounds and layout of pages. Maybe develop a treatment for an animation series. Who knows? Freeing myself from my own blog shackles is the first step to advancing as an artist. It is more important for me to be a cartoonist than a blogger.
So, anyways, I'll still be around, still commenting at other people's blogs. Still posting cartoons occasionally, but it's time to stop acting like a dog pulling the sled that is zencomix and time to start acting like a cat hunting its prey. I'm going back underground with my comix.