We can’t fix schools. We can’t help the jobless. We can’t do healthcare. But there’s still one thing that America can do well.
I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).
This week: L.A. teachers agree to shortening the school year by 10 days to 175 days, and accept a commensurate pay cut. This is the fourth year in the row that the school year has been shortened.
Fellow CWA cartoonist Jen Sorensen pointed to a Wired article about how prices are trending downward–prices for our labor, anyway. What we buy always gets more expensive.
This ties in to a discussion among cartoonists and other info-floggers over the future of our business. If content isn’t king, information wants to be free and what we do is worthless in the new all online future (ha!), how will we earn a living? At a graphic novel symposium called Splat! held in Manhattan last Saturday, I was on a panel with “Diesel Sweeties” cartoonist Richard Stevens, one of the most successful webcartoonists around. Richard makes his living selling T-shirts and other merchandise, using his free comics as a way to draw readers to his website. He also draws a syndicated version of the strip for daily newspapers. Anyway, he and I disagree about whether others can replicate his success. The way I look at it, most cartoonists can barely come up with new ideas for cartoons. Coming up with T-shirt ideas is a whole other way of thinking, demonstrated by yours truly–I’ve never come up with a really successful T-shirt design, but I make money from cartoons.
The loss-leader model is being touted for musicians as well. No more will they receive real money for their record deals. Instead, they must tour and sell T-shirts. In the future, we’ll all sell T-shirts to subsidize our jobs.