Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Dangle on NPR

Hey, I was asked this week to be on the NPR show, Marketplace, to play the heavy against a dimwit cartoonist who thinks it's a good idea to give away his daily cartoons to mainstream newspapers for free in exchange for the big jackpot from licensing and merchandising that will come later. This is where I'm sure I will alienate many of you in the blogodrome because I don't think creators should give away their stuff for free when it has value to others who are going to use it. I believe in the old fashioned idea of a fair exchange. I'm not one of those anti-copyright people. I'm pro-copyright, anti-monstrous-corporate-power-that-inverts-creators'-copyright. And it's just a plain issue of self interest. I want to live.

Anyway, it was my first time inside the KQED complex in San Francisco, although I had two different studios in the neighborhood back in the day when mayonaise mist used to drift off of the old Hellman's factory and urban pioneers like me never had to use hair mousse or gel. They gave me the royal treatment. Only thirty minutes waiting on a leather bench in a little hallway off of an atrium-like lobby. I had always heard that KQED squandered all their money on high salaries and luxurious digs rather than producing any local programming, but the facility wasn't that exceptional. But I'm not complaining, I had a lot of fun playing big radio dude for twenty minutes.

In case you miss the show, here were my (not very concise) soundbites:

[What do you think of this new way of marketing cartoons, giving them away for free?]

It's not new. Unfortunately, artists have always been masters at finding ways to give their work away for free. I've heard plenty of ideas like this that involve doing free, speculative work now with the hopes of a big payoff later. It ususally doesn't work.

[How do you feel about what [dimwit] is doing?]

Sympathetic but also outraged.

On one hand, if you want to do daily cartoons for mainstream papers, the cartoon syndicates are the gate keepers. So syndicating independently requires breaking barriers and is very hard. So his is a strategy of desperation in the face of such difficulties and I feel for that.

On the other hand, whenever you diminish the value of your work it hurts you AND everybody else around you. For him to have a competitive advantage at the moment we'll all be worse off in the long run.

The value of any item is based on perception. So to purposely diminish the perception that your cartoons are worth paying for––which will be the message––is not worth the temporary gain.

[What'll happen if this new model catches on and other cartoonists start going this way?]

Publications have always had a clear line between editorial material and advertising. Comics are purchased as editorial content. If cartoons become thinly disguised ads to drive readers to cartoonist's other products, it won't be long before a smart publisher asks,"why are we giving these cartoonists free ad space, especially full-color on Sunday? We should be charging them for it."

[Are you actually saying newspapers will charge cartoonists to run their cartoons?]

It's an extreme possiblity, but hey, from free it's the next logical step for the cost-cutting publisher. How do you negotiate anything when you're already giving it away? And can you imagine how bad such a comics page would be?

From there we talked about all sorts of other stuff about Troubletown, my syndication, my presidency at the Graphic Artists Guild, the California sales tax struggle, my physical fitness regimen, my favorite movies of all time, my time abroad, my sister's struggles with tennis elbow, and a lot of other stuff that will be cut out.

But was I right? Was I smart? Of course I was. I sure hope they do a nice job of cutting it up so I don't like too much of a moron. I'll post the date of the show when I find out.

Afterward I met my wife, Hae Yuon, and we had lunch at Cafe Claude. Wow, my wife alone during the day with Oscar away at daycare. It was a postively sinful rendezvous.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You *go*, Mr. Dangle. Loving the new blog. Keep on keepin' on, my main man!

Today, KQED, tomorrow, the WORLD.


10:25 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home