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.
Nobody is surprised when I say that computers changed everything.
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.
And I got in to a routine. Though I did start doing FOUR comics a week. And I added a tip jar.
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.