How the ‘Toons Are Changing

16 May

I think it’s really funny how newspaper comics these days have become so miniscule with any obscene behavior as the rest of the world’s media outlets have evolved with the time and have become more lax with content.  Really, I just don’t get it.

I’ve blogged about this before (I’m sure…well, at least I think I have) and it really amazes me that when print publications – such as newspapers – are trying to keep up with the times, they don’t take drastic action in making some changes in regards to “what would make me want to read this awkwardly papered commodity compared to something free online?”.  Marketing department, hello?  Are you out there?

Cartoons have even gotten MORE uptight about content.  Back when Lucy used to punch Charlie Brown and call him a “Blockhead” would subsequently be labeled “child abuse” or “bullying” and would probably be blamed for half of the bullying cases around the country nowadays.  Garfield kicking Odie off a table…well, let’s just say I’m surprised there’s not an outpouring of angry demonstrators against abusive kittens.  Honestly, society that reads comics, relax!

Well, society I guess hasn’t relaxed when it comes to anything close to outrageous in the comics.  Although, it makes me wonder if there has actually been any studies on this.  Have print publications actually asked the question to their readers as to what THEY want to see in the funny pages?

I think that was a big reason why Tampa Bay Times (where my series Break of Day is printed) enjoys my work.  And I’m really not that edgy!  But, compared to a lot of material out there, I guess mine does go a little into darker territory.  And TBT’s readership is generally folks in their 20’s and 30’s.  I know the content of the rest of the paper is a younger, hipper vibe to it, but I would like to think that my contributions to the comic pages at least relates well with the readers.

I still stand strong and optimistic about the future of print, comics and how I think cartooning is actually going to soon expand into grander days.  However, I’m surprised there’s not more being done RIGHT NOW.  I mean, uh, it’s probably about time, don’t cha think?

We’ll see.  I might attempt to have a cat hit a boy (that looks like Charlie Brown) and call him a “blockhead” in one of my comics and see if it works.  If I get a laugh, we’ll know there’s a market for edgier ‘toons.


7 Responses to “How the ‘Toons Are Changing”

  1. Bearman May 16, 2011 at 12:23 pm #

    Problem is newspapers have fewer and fewer readers so they are less likely to want to rip someone off.

    • Nate Fakes May 16, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

      I’m always taken by even the letterhead that they use for the front of papers. I mean, it hasn’t changed since the 1800’s! If they don’t even change that to something, er…younger, than I do sometimes worry. Pretty soon though, I think they’ll hit the “Oh Sh#t!” button and learn from mistakes.

  2. DadaHyena May 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    I say there’s no point crying over a sinking ship. Just accept the fact that there will be no glorious, phoenix-esque resurrection for the once proud tradition of newspaper comics and move on to where the readers are heading (that would be the web).

    When I was a kid the thing that got me into drawing in the first place were my favorite newspaper comics and the dream that someday I could create one of my own. By the time I grew up and was ready to send my work off to the syndicates everything had changed; the writing was on the wall that this industry is slowly dying. It was a sad loss, but that’s just how it goes.

    But hey; we can still be nostalgic but progressive! Time to move forward! Use the web to bring back those glory days of the funny pages, without anal-retentive editors and crabby old readers who write the complaint letters! Let’s go make some comics!

    • Nate Fakes May 16, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

      I’m not exactly crying, but I am very well aware that there are major changes that have been – and still are – taking shape.

      The fact is though, there are cartoonist in the papers still, there are still journalist working and a lot of papers are still in business (in fact, St Pete Times is one that has GONE UP in business this past year). I think the web is definitely the way everything is heading, however, I truly believe that there is plenty of other opportunities out there. Everyone said the same thing about MAD several years ago, and they had to remind everyone, “Hey, we’re open for business!”

      I don’t like doing the web comics (come to find out after doing them). I’m not technical, I don’t like all the process of getting everything “perfect” online, only to have it crash, etc. I want an editor that will handle everything, and I would just be responsible for creating the material. And there are people doing what I want, so if that’s the case, there is still a market.

      It’ll be interesting to see where it all goes. I WISH I was more into the web (freedom, no editor, etc.) but I’m just not. However, maybe someday I won’t have a choice but to be if I want to be a cartoonist. In the meantime though….

      • DadaHyena May 18, 2011 at 11:11 am #

        I completely agree with you. I really do yearn for the days when a syndicate would handle all of the business aspects (selling the comic, protecting it legally, etc) while the cartoonist could just focus on creating material. Sadly, unless if you have a business partner, that just isn’t present with webcomics.

        …and, yes, reading comics is so much more pleasant on paper than it is on a computer screen.

        I’m not saying the web is superior to the funny pages or the old system; it’s just that in the end the web is going to win and eliminate the ways of old. As I said in my rant above I think I was born ten, twenty years too late, since the days of having a syndicate protect and endorse a cartoonist for the span of his/her working career seems to be gone. Opportunities for cartoonists are sadly dwindling; even MAD has cut down to six issues a year.

        Well…that’s enough of looking at the negative side of things.

        The positive side, as far as I can tell, is that people are still reading comics, and thankfully smaller, “cult” comics are getting a larger following now that they can be read on-line without having to be approved by an editor or syndicate. Whether or not this leads to a financially stable living depends on a lot of things, but the chances seem better for all of the ‘oddball’ cartoonists of the bunch.

        And finally, the competition that comes from so many comics on the web means that cartoonists will step up their game and make some truly great material. A big part of what made a lot of the most successful newspaper comics go stale is that they grew too safe and secure, and could simply pass off below-average quality comics knowing that no paper would drop them (you all know the ones I’m talking about).

        Sorry for this gigantic rant, but it is a subject I hold very dear to my heart and worry about on a daily basis (did I mention that I’m also a struggling cartoonist?). You seem to be doing fine, Nate; keep up the good work and keep moving forward.

  3. George May 26, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    It’s weird to me how when newspapers first published comics, they were in pace with television standards which were kinda stringent. Married couples had two beds in their rooms and everyone was relatively goody-goody.

    Nowadys you see sexual innuendoes on sitcoms during the early hour of 8pm-9pm, but the comics haven’t kept pace. I think it’s due to the very idea that comics are supposed to be pure and anything out of that realm is considered unholy.

    I read the newspaper comics when I was a kid. Maybe I’m supposed to outgrow them and move along to something more risque as i got older.

    Perhaps the newspaper comics are always gonna be geared towards a G rating even when the news that surrounds it isn’t.

    • Nate Fakes June 2, 2011 at 7:16 am #

      I never thought of that, but yea, they were up there with television in terms of content back in “the day”. I wish it would get that way again, but yea, I see the G-rated stuff being around for a little bit longer in print until major changes are made.

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