I like to complain, but you already knew that. Here are my two complaints for the day:
People often send me e-mail to request that I put out a new collection of cartoons, yet when I actually publish one, the sales are abysmal. The latest example: my book “Search and Destroy” came out in 2001, yet has sold a mere fraction of my books based on a theme, like “To Afghanistan and Back”. Bottom line: fans say they want collections but aren’t very enthusiastic about them once they come out. Of course, there are other problems, like the fact that cartoon collections invariably get stuck in the “humor section,” a.k.a., your bookstore’s ghetto. Theme books like “Afghanistan” enjoy more prominent play in “current events” or “non fiction.” So if you’ve ever wondered why there aren’t more books collecting your favorite comic strips, here’s why: because you don’t buy them.
Complaint deux: The Internet. If you read cartoons or columns on the Internet, you’re reading them for free. The only way this stuff can continue to exist is for it to be subsidized through some other medium, like print newspapers. If a newspaper or magazine runs a cartoon, they pay for it. Before the Internet, a cartoonist’s fans would write their local newspaper editor to encourage them to pick up my stuff. If they were unsuccessful, they had no other way to see my work–which was a strong inducement. Now, if you live in a city where the paper doesn’t deign to run Ted Rall cartoons, you can simply come here to my website. There’s no pressure; the stuff’s right there, in color even! This isn’t a state of affairs that can last forever–but I don’t like the way it’s trending.