Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Syndicates: The Growing Art of Cartoon Blogging

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Syndicates: The Growing Art of Cartoon Blogging

Article excerpt

When it comes to drawing car- toons, it's all about the line art. When it comes to covering cartoons, it's all about the online art ... of blogging. There are several blogs that focus on newspaper comics and editorial cartoons. Among them are ComicsCurmudgeon.com, which lampoons a number of less-than-stellar strips and panels, and the more serious DailyCartoonist.com and ComicsReporter.com.

All three blogs are by people who don't do cartoons themselves, although the proprietors of The Comics Reporter and The Daily Cartoonist have previously worked as cartoonists.

TCR's Tom Spurgeon wrote for the former King Features Syndicate strip "Wildwood" from 1999 to 2002. He was also an editor at The Comics Journal magazine from 1994 to 1999, and co-authored Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book with Jordan Raphael, who helped Spurgeon found TCR in 2004.

On the blog, Spurgeon links to stories about newspaper comics, editorial cartoons, comic books, and magazine cartoons -- with some coverage of non-U.S. artists. Spurgeon, who discovers links through search engines and by combing cartoon sites, accompanies many of the links with brief commentary.

"I want to provide people with context," said Spurgeon, 37, who lives in New Mexico. "Why is the story important? Why is it worth their time to read it?"

Spurgeon devotes about 15 hours a week to the blog, which has received as many as 11,500 unique visitors a day. He also works for pharmaceutical magazines and is writing a history of Fantagraphics Books, which owns The Comics Journal.

Alan Gardner, who launched The Daily Cartoonist (TDC) last October, created editorial cartoons as part of his 1995-99 job at The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah. After he became the father of triplets in 1999, he switched to a higher-paying tech job. Gardner, a Web designer and developer who relies on RSS feeds to find some of the TDC links, hopes to someday resume cartooning.

Gardner, 33, devotes at least two hours a day to his blog, which concentrates on newspaper comics and editorial cartoons in its summaries and links.

"One of the things I've tried to do with The Daily Cartoonist is separate myself from the blog," he said. "I don't, or rarely, insert my opinion. I try to keep it straight news. That probably has to do with my years in a newsroom."

While Gardner declined to give traffic numbers, he said TDC usage has grown every month. "And I get a lot of positive e-mail from cartoonists and syndicates," added Gardner, who, like Spurgeon, finds some links via tips from site visitors.

Gardner, who is still based in Utah, said May 5 that he planned to soon start writing original content for his blog. And on May 8, he unveiled a new site design.

Joshua Fruhlinger rolled out The Comics Curmudgeon in 2004, and visitors have been rolling in the cyber-aisles ever since.

Fruhlinger, 31, a Baltimore-based freelance editor who works for technical publications, posts comics that evoke both "horror and fascination" -- and makes snarky remarks about them. Among his targets are "The Family Circus" and soap-opera strips such as "Mary Worth," "Rex Morgan, M.D.," and "Apartment 3-G." But even Fruhlinger's favorite comics, such as "Get Fuzzy," occasionally get ribbed when they have an off day. …

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