Ever since the first cave dweller lifted the first flint to chisel an image onto a cave wall, there’s been a critic standing behind him saying, “That’s not funny.”
Here at C-VILLE, we understand the impulse to second guess other people’s work. In sympathy, we’re turning the choice of our new comic strip over to you, our highly opinionated readers.
These are your choices: “Rehabilitating Mr. Wiggles” by Neil Swaab; “Ogg’s World” by Doug Ogg; “The Boiling Point” by Mikhaela Reid; “(Th)ink” by Keith Knight; “Smell of Steve” by Brian Sendelbach; and “No-Town” by Tom O’Donnell.
No joke! You could be a winner, too!
Laugh your butt off and then enter to win a free dinner for two!
We want you to pick our new comic strip—we really, really do. So we’ve put a little motivation together. Go online at www. c-ville.com to pick your favorite from this batch of six. Technically, you don’t have to give us your name and e-mail address, but if you do you’ll be entered to win a FREE dinner for two at Cassis, a hip Water Street bistro. That’s right, all you have to do is vote and tell us who you are. And you might win a night out at a fancy restaurant. What are you waiting for? A punchline?
Alt cartoonists are not as depressed as they seem, says Ted Rall
In light of this week’s comic contest, we got together with alt cartoonist and political commentator Ted Rall to talk about the world of alternative comics. Rall has edited his third volume of independent cartooning, Attitude 3: The New Subversive Online Cartoonists, which features interviews and cartoons with the biggest names in the political and social e-cartoon world. It will be available in June.—Anne Metz
C-VILLE: How are alt cartoonists different from regular cartoonists?
Ted Rall: Obviously these differences are extremely subjective and they can be split any number of ways. Generally, comics that appear in newspapers and magazines are divided into mainstream comics and everything else. Mainstream publications would be big daily papers, magazines like The New Yorker or Fortune. The cartoons that tend to run in these publications tend to have certain styles. Political cartoons, for instance, tend to feature donkeys and elephants. The art usually has lots of cross-hatching and labels. Humor comics tend to feature light-hearted jokes about relationships, family, that sort of thing. Everything that doesn’t fit into these two categories tends to have a lot of trouble getting into those mainstream publications, and these are what we generally refer to as “alt cartoons.” But the distinction can get pretty muddy sometimes. Alt cartooning is like pornography—you know it when you see it.
There’s no money in it, so why would anyone be crazy enough to become an alt cartoonist?
Well, people still become poets. I think it’s the same impulse. People do it because they have to do it. You’ll see young comics who start with a lot of enthusiasm, but over time, they eventually become disgruntled by the lack of recognition, money or immediate success. They move on to other things. And then there are those of us who can’t not do it. Most alternative cartoonists have made a choice to try and move the art form more to the way they envision it than to try and match it to the mainstream.
What are some of the differences between the new batch of cartoonists and your generation?
I think you see a lot of common threads. In the late 1990s and right around 9/11, suddenly there was a huge Gen Y explosion of alt cartoonists who were drawing on the [Matt] Groening tradition, and some were inspired by Tom Tomorrow [Tom Tomorrow’s cartoon “This Modern World” appears on p. 10]. A lot of them were drawn to do stuff about political work. Of course, that’s a generalization since Neil Swaab and Emily Flake aren’t doing political cartoons at all. Emerging in the last few years, there have been cartoonists who have just come out of college, who are the subject of Attitude 3, who realize that even the alt weeklies are locked up. So they have turned to the Internet, where you see greater creativity, since you are not limited by size or [reprint] resolution. On the Internet, there’s not as much pressure to do a comic for the benefit of the readers.
As a crowd are they funny or are they somewhat doom and gloom?
It’s funny, I go to the meetings of the National Cartoonists Society, where you meet the guy who does “Family Circus” or “Garfield,” and on the whole, they are definitely a happier bunch. I suspect that has something to do with the fact that they are wealthy. I have to say the alt comic people tend to be really interesting, very funny, and not at all depressing to hang around [with]. In fact, the best part of being a cartoonist is that you get to meet other cartoonists.