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Five years. Hard to believe.
Of course, it’s been over forty years since I first said I wanted to be “a cartooner.” That seems hard to believe, too. More so, when you think about how the industry has changed.
When I was a kid, the legend was still that newspaper cartoonists made a really good living at their strips. And the big ones did. Maybe some of the middle-tier ones, too. I dunno. I got in right about the time that the general public really began to admit that newspapers, despite having been the cutting edge preferred media technology for a very long time, were going the way of… well, of newspapers now. I have a lot of industry stories that I bore close friends and family with, about how the industry broke down and cartoonists became a hunted-looking lot.
Not the new ones, of course. Kids. They have the web, which is the new cutting edge preferred media technology (in which very few trees are cut down to make a website every day. Weird.) They’re not waiting around for the syndicates to make them rich, like the older generation did.
I had a slight advantage over a lot of comic strip cartoonists. I liked advertising cartoons, and didn’t mind doing stuff outside my usual range, and I bought a computer early on in order to keep getting that fun ad work. I’m not complaining, you see. I’ve been a professional cartoonist, with no other ‘job’ since 1991. Fun!
But I digress. All this has been to say that I was one of the lucky ones- I came along at a time when the big switch happened. Any older, and I might’ve shrunk from computers and given them the evil eye until it was too late to get in the game. Any younger, and I’d have missed out on learning all the physical real-world skills and techniques that digital art tries to mimic. And so we come to Hubris.
When I went, in 2000, to Scott Stantis’ home to sign paperwork about taking over the art chores on his syndicated comic strip The Buckets, I was driving an SUV loaded with a kayak, camping gear, a mountain bike, and a 44″ Dregs skateboard. Scott shared with me that at least one syndicate was looking for an outdoors strip, so after signing on the dotted line, and going off to North Carolina for a weekend of fun, I went home and got to work. Hubris was the result. Many misadventures ensued, and the syndicates mostly declined the feature facelessly, though I did get some fantastic input from Amy Lago, comics editor for United Media and then The Washington Post Syndicate before I set Hubris aside in order to do work that made money. Oh- that outdoors strip that someone supposedly wanted? Huntin’ and a’Fishin, it turned out. Not really “Hubris”.
In 2010, I realized that I was sitting on roughly a hundred and fifty pretty good Hubris cartoons while other people were starting webcomics with nothing but high spirits.
So, in November, Hubriscomics.com went live. I was gonna do three comics a week, and product reviews, and funny stories, and have Google ads on the site, and link product reviews to retail partners that would pay a percentage of sales generated through my site, and it was gonna be a heck of a lot of fun.
It has been fun. The retail links never paid a penny, so I dropped them. The Google ads pay a little, so I kept them, and I added Project Wonderful ads. I sort of slacked, finally, on the product reviews and funny stories and non-Hubris cartoons. Those pages weren’t getting a lot of readers, where the numbers for the comic page itself kept creeping upward.
With the tip jar, and the Google ads, and the Project Wonderful ad, and the revenue that comes from Hubris running also on GoComics.com, I made enough last year to… pay the web guy who maintains the site, and who had to update the whole mess, since the software we had been running on was completely obsolete. That’s it. I broke even, more or less.
But I also went to some conventions. And I sold some books there, and some sketches, and a poster or two. And a pile of caricatures.
And here I have a project that I own, which is nothing like doing advertising cartoons.
So, on the whole, I’m on the right side of things.
On the other hand, I’m so pressed for time that my family doesn’t really see me enough. But they like the Hubris cartoons, so maybe that’s a wash, too.
And now we come to the point. I’m finally doing a Patreon program for Hubris.
I remember when cable was first a thing, and TV was no longer ‘free’. It seemed nuts. Now, cable is falling to companies like NetFlix, where you pay to get exactly what you want and hang the commercials. Hubris could follow suit.
So here’s your chance to join Team Hubris. Not every reader will, or even CAN. The rule of thumb seems to vary, depending on who you ask- half of one percent of readers will pay, some say. Some make it nearly five percent. The pie-in-the-sky Public Radio style logic is easy- if everyone that read the strip every day was a Patreon for, say, three dollars a month, then I could forego a lot of the other work I now take and Hubris would, like the newspaper comic strips of Yore, run seven days a week, every week, all year. Plus, there’d be a few dollars to buy up more advertising to raise the readership to the point where, on a sunny day in a perfect world, the secondary and main goal of the Patreon program would kick in, and I would quit doing advertising cartoons and there’d be a Hubris cartoon every day, plus a secondary feature of reader features, product reviews, videos, funny stories and all the rest. And all the Patrons would receive a ‘Team Hubris” embroidered patch so we could all get together for the Pizza Party at the Conventions. If you don’t wear your patch, I’m not buying your pizza. You know how it is.
Like I said, though, not everyone would or even could put in a dollar or two a month. I paid to get past “Mysterious Universe”s paywall for a few years and really enjoyed the podcasts they were able to field with the money I and who-knows-how-many others sent in every month. But I still haven’t gotten onto “Skeptoid”s micropayment plan like I ought to, since I enjoy those podcasts every week, too. And, frankly, not everyone has two bucks or ten or whatever to just throw at a cartoonist every month. Frankly, like cable TV all those years ago, it sounds crazy on the face of it.
But some of you ARE crazy. Just like me.
And for the craziest of you. Click HERE.
I won’t pretend to know how this works, but today’s the first day of the month, and you guys have voted Hubris up at TopWebComics til we’re #86 when I post this. Typically, Hubris runs to the second page, maybe ’round the #135 mark or so, I think.
I did notice, in approving comments when I returned from the Kenosha Cartooning Fest, that there’s a new reader exhorting us all to vote regularly and bump Hubris up to higher numbers. It’s been a while since I did the same, but as we seemed to have a jump on this month already, I thought I’d spell it all out.
TopWebComics is basically a HUGE list of webcomics. You can, if your comic is on their list, put a ‘vote’ button on your site- like this one:
And then readers can vote once a day on their phone, computer, pad, and/or whatever you got that links to the in’ernets. The more votes, the higher the ranking that minute, and hopefully the more likely that someone looking for something new to read sees that webcomic and then there are MORE readers to see the comic and vote, and the cycle escalates. The logical end of which is that the planet is eventually re-named HubrisWorld, and we all travel by skateboards and bicycles. And I can afford to build a garage to keep the Pecan tree goop off my jeep. That’s what world domination would mean to me, really.
So, if you have a second you don’t mind using this way, click on that ‘vote Hubris’ button over there on the right once or twice a day obsessively for the rest of October, and welcome a flood of like-minded cartoon readers who will join you here to thrill at the exploits of Paste, Bob, and Lowell. And Hubris.
So I went back to Kenosha this year for the Kenosha Festival Of Cartooning!
I won’t try to write up all the excellent coolness that goes on in Kenosha during that fest. I will, instead, send you off to Mike Peterson’s ‘Comic Strip Of The Day’ blog (CLICK HERE), so you can get a complete sense of the whole thing. Mike does a man’s work on his blog, and Hubris has been on there- you guys remember?
Kenosha (the Fest, of course, and the town as well) is wonderful. And things like it should happen in a lot of cities around the country (and the world) If you’re lucky enough to have such a thing in your city (Not many do. There’s TOONFEST of course… and… well…), you have my admiration and envy. If not, try to make it next year, willya?
You all know The Oatmeal, right? Not The Onion, but The Oatmeal. Anyhow, it has funny cartoons in it, and this is one of them. if you CLICK HERE you can read an excerpt from a WHOLE BOOK of outdoorishness in cartooning. Looks good to me!
Here’s a neat article for anyone who remembers skating in their youth- even if your youth was long ago or recently. The changes come and go, and somehow we attach some of our memories to some of the oddest things. CLICK HERE to see the whole thing:
So, GoComics.com (where The Buckets runs, and where a delayed form of Hubris runs) does a LiveTweetChatThingy every Friday with different cartoonists. TSOJ was kind enough to try to piece together all the crazy twittering into some form of linear, readable content. Thanks, TSOJ! Here it is:
Chat w/ cartoonist Greg Cravens of The Buckets & @HubrisComics this Fri!
Use: #AskGregCravens http://www.gocomics.com/the-buckets?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=livetweet …pic.twitter.com/5EymlFta29
Don’t miss today’s Q&A with The Buckets & @HubrisComics creator Greg Cravens! #AskGregCravens — Starts at 1:30pCT pic.twitter.com/enrvFS8JCi
Any chance we’ll see an animated mini-series or full-length movie of @Hubriscomics in the future?
Maybe. I’ve talked to the amazing Mark Simon about pitching a Hubris TV show- animated or live action… I’ve got a background in storyboards, so…
With 3D printing so widely accessible today, can we expect to see mini models of Toby and gang?
That sounds like fun! Toby and his band, with a figurine of Eddie to start problems with … Dogzilla would be a good one, too.
Who was your favorite cartoonist as a kid?
Greg: A guy named Brad McMillian did these amazing cartoon posters choked with sight-gags. He was my favorite. Plus, I learned to read so that I’d know what the Peanuts and Dennis the Menace characters were saying.
What’s the inspiration for The Buckets?
Originally, The Buckets was inspired by @SStantis’ family, but when I took over the strip, I was in the same place he was – wife, two sons, dog and mortgage… so the inspiration became MY family. The Buckets really is as close to the real world as anything in my head becomes.
That’s awesome. Have you ever thought of The Buckets being a TV show?
A little. I’ve had it suggested to me that a stage play would be more ideal for The Buckets.
Cool beans! It would be absolutely something to see. Would it be more like August: Osage County?
Think something like ‘A Tuna Christmas’ or some PG Wodehouse stage production, and you’re there.
Are you, as far as you know, the only unicycle riding cartoonist in history? An amazing skill!
As far as I know, I’m the only unicycle-riding cartoonist, but more likely, I’m one of a few… I may be the only Off-Road Unicycle rider.
Which Buckets character is the biggest challenge, in terms of ‘speaking through’?
The toughest character is Dogzilla. He doesn’t actually speak and unless he dreams, we can only guess at his needs and aspirations. Tricky to get his face to do elaborate emotions, too.
Which strip would you take over for a week if you could?
Ha! If I could do ANY, I might try Pearls Before Swine. There are a few webcomics I might like to be on for a week: Girls With Slingshots, Reptilis Rex…
Charmy’s Army would love a visit!!!
“Hubris” allows you more freedom, probably, but do you feel restricted by “Buckets” being in papers?
Not really. The papers are far more lenient with the comics than they used to be. Still can’t use the word ‘Crap’, though.
why are they called the buckets?
That was originally an homage to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Does anyone remember that they were The Bucket family?
What advice do you have for aspiring cartoonists?
Write before you draw. Doodling is part of writing, but have a LOT of writing down before you start drawing the balloons, boxes and borders, much less the funny people.
lolol… I’ve been doing this backwards then……
are the buckets based on your family ?
Yep, The Buckets is very much my family,and my memories of my own childhood.
who is your favorite character ?
Depends on what day it is, & what I need to write. They’re all very important, depending on whose voice I need.
Is there a @Hubris animated movie or mini-series coming soon?
Hope so. I’m working on the pitch. Jack Black as Hubris! That sounds good.
Somehow John Goodman comes to mind. Some of Hubris’ expressions remind me of him and I can hear his voice.
You were/are a pro caricaturist…what lessons did you get from doing that?
Make connections and humor quickly- it’s all show business, whether live or by print.
Q: What has been your proudest moment as a cartoonist so far?
A: Joining the @NatCartoonSoc. And first being asked for an autograph, by someone who REALLY DID know who I was.
Do attend a lot of Comic Cons? Do you like making appearances for fans? Do you think appearances pay off?
I LOVE making personal appearances. Just kicked off my Con appearances. Brand New Booth! I hope Con appearances pay off. That booth cost! Suggest a Con I should come to near you!
Very cool. I’m going to start promoting Charmy at Cons next year. @Comicpalooza will be the first of many next year.
Haven’t heard about that one yet. Have you got your space booked yet?
Not yet. It isn’y until May 2015… but it books quickly. I sent an email just yesterday to them. I think it is Houston’s biggest Convention… Might be June now that I think… Memorial Day weekend.
What advice do you have for young artists who may draw well, but aren’t very good writers?
Partner with a good writer… There are a ton of good writers… FUNNY writers out there.
Writing is a learnable skill. Don’t depend on others to do it for you. GET GOOD. You can!
draw a story and write sentences to describe what you have drawn
artist hv an image wt visual impressions in their mind, same thy sud express in simple words on blank sheet just as they paint
Q: Where were you born and 3 words describing it?
A: … Also “Carl Perkins”. Is that one word or two?
The nice folks at GoComics are doing a live Twitter Chat (Chatter? Cweet? Tw… never mind.) and you are invited, nay, encouraged to participate!! You know I rely on you guys to talk up the ‘toons. Get some crazy questions ready to Tweet, and I’ll do what I can to answer proper-like. See ya Friday!
What with the Charlotte HeroesCon to get ready for, I didn’t get this post ready when I wanted.
It’s a big ol’ THANK YOU to those who’ve used the Tip Jar (also known as the Voluntary Subscription, the Donation Button, the Team Hubris signup) to support Hubriscomics.
It got you guys an extra six strips so far, and one of these days, will get another couple on there, I’m sure.
So, if you enjoyed getting a half-dozen extra Hubris cartoons on more or less random days, then you can thank these nice people:
Allan’s Computer Services,
James (Doodle) L,
If I missed your name, or you’re baffled as to why I didn’t put last names, gimme the shout out and I’ll add your name or your surname, as needed.
If you want to know why Scott F got little star/asterisk thingies on there, it’s ’cause he went for the monthly thing. So he gets stars.