Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Innovative Web Site for 'Frank & Ernest'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Innovative Web Site for 'Frank & Ernest'

Article excerpt

MANY CARTOONISTS HAVE started their own Web sites. Few, if any, of the sites have the look and content of the new "Frank & Ernest" one.

It features 3-D characters and environments, navigable QuickTime virtual reality files, and a searchable archive of nearly 2,000 comic strips.

"Frank & Ernest" creator Bob Thaves noted that "a key goal for the site is to complement the comic strip in the newspaper."

For instance, visitors are able to interact with the environment of a comic that initially appeared in print -- such as a Sunday strip from last November featuring Frank and Ernest on the moon. Computer users can explore the lunar landscape, enter the duo's spaceship, etc. They can also offer suggestions for a possible first transmission by Frank and Ernest from the moon, and the first 250 users to find a missing NASA lunar probe are eligible to receive a print of the comic.

Then there is a sweepstakes that supports each client newspaper on a paper-by-paper basis. Participating readers of each paper who visit the site are entered into a drawing with other readers of the same paper to receive free e-mail greeting cards.

"This capability can be tailored so that individual papers can implement programs specifically for their readers," Thaves said.

The site also features caption contests, bulletin boards, information about Thaves and his comic, links to other sites, and more.

A portion of any net revenue generated by the site will be donated to the International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, Fla.

The site was launched at a time when "Frank & Ernest," distributed to over 1,300 papers by United Media's Newspaper Enterprise Association, is starting its 25th anniversary year.

From the beginning, Thaves has done some innovative things. His comic has always been a panel in a strip shape, and his characters play various roles. Later, the award-winning cartoonist started putting his e-mail address in the strip and using comic-book-style digital coloring for his Sunday pages.

The new site is being marketed by Thaves' daughter, Sara, of the Los Angeles-based Comics Inc. She also helped develop the site along with her father and people such as Marc Siry, a digital imager with seven years' experience responsible for the site's eye-catching 3-D art.

Siry said, "The Thaves were willing to push the envelope."

United, Red Flash Launch Net Guide

UNITED MEDIA AND Red Flash Internet Inc. have launched a daily guide for newspapers and newspaper Web sites that spotlights time-sensitive Internet event programming.

"Red Flash" is available as a print listing or in electronic form on the Web. …

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