I normally don’t write about Bizarro cartoons until they are a week old, but I want to address the “guest cartoonist” situation going on this week in newspapers a across the globe.
For a syndicated cartoonist responsible for 365 new cartoons per year, for as long as his/her career lasts, there are no vacations. For us to have time off, we have to write twice as many jokes for a given amount of time, draw, color, and format twice as many images, then rush out the door. When we get home, we race to catch up again because we used all our available ideas to get out the door, but now x amount of new ones are due again. It’s a white-hot hell.
Some cartoonists will publish reruns, but unless your feature is widely considered indispensable, like Doonesbury or Peanuts, editors don’t like to publish reruns and will frequently sub your feature out for someone else’s, either permanently or until you get back to work. The market is so competitive these days that a smart cartoonist doesn’t dare let that happen. Some syndication companies just ban the practice entirely.
Recently, some artists have gone to the “guest artist” system, which is a great alternative. I get my much-needed time off, another artist gets some exposure, the readers get a glimpse of a new artist they might otherwise have never come across.
Francesco Marciuliano, whom I chose as my sub this week, is a good friend and a brilliant and prolific humorist. The guy writes Sally Forth (I know, it’s not typically at the top of a Bizarro reader’s list, but read it a few times and see if he doesn’t do an amazing job of breathing life into what is essentially a formula family strip) an Emmy-winning children’s show for cable (can’t remember the name of it – Binky and Floofloo? Invisible Playmate in My Pants? How Drunk is Uncle Rick?), as well as a clever blog, brilliantly funny essays, and a fair amount of stand-up comedy. My own personal favorite of Ces’ myriad accomplishments, however, is his online comic, Medium Large. All of this, and he’s as quiet and humble as a church mouse. And almost as furry.
Hope you like what Ces (pronounced: chez) did for this week. I’ll be commenting on them daily next week. Here’s one that didn’t make the cut. (must be over 16 to read this one)
Be groovy, be well, B vitamins.