Thursday, January 29, 2009

Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

I've been following the growing alarm of alt-weekly cartoonists regarding the impending demise of their livelihood, dudes like Tom Tomorrow, David Rees, Ted Rall, Derf and others. Tom recently posted a long message of doom by the creator of Red Meat - Max Cannon. He writes:

If, indeed, the humble $10 or $20 that I generally get paid for a RED MEAT strip is going to bring the whole (alt-weekly) operation tumbling down, then the alt-weekly industry is already dead on its feet...

Heh, indeedy. The couple of C-notes alt-weeklies spend on cartoons every week (if that much) was likely axed by accountants who don't even read the paper. That's wasted space which could be generating revenue, instead of consuming it. Or something. Who knows what they're thinking, or even if they're thinking. But thus it has been and ever shall be when accountants and artists butt heads - the accountants have infinitely harder heads, bigger horns, and mightier buttocks with which to propel themselves at us, helter skelter.

Although I agree with much that Max says, I take issue with one part. He writes:

...we (artists)...make our rent and feed and clothe our families exclusively on the humble (I repeat, humble) amount we make from revenues we get from subscriber publications. When that dries up, most - if not all - of us will no longer be able to financially justify the continued production of our weekly comic strips for your enjoyment. That means no posting of new strings on the web site either...

Maybe it's just me (and I don't think it is just me), but whether or not I receive a paycheck has almost nothing to do with whether or not I create. If every magazine in the world were to stop publishing short fiction, and every novel publisher were to suddenly fold, I would still write and I would post my stories over at Big Bamboo, where you can already read several of my previously published stories, which are really quite good, even if I say so myself. If you haven't read them, you know what to do - just click here.

I don't support my family with my writing. I have a full time job and a full time family with young children, yet I still write - every day. Quitting isn't an option for me. Not every artist works for the same reasons, but I suspect that if their entire revenue stream were to dry up tomorrow, many of these artists would find new places to publish. If I were them, I'd be looking for those places now. In fact, I'd be talking to my fellow artists about starting an online subscriber-based autonomous collective. Or something.

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