David Byrne wrote a spot-on, depressing opinion piece in The Guardian recently.
This is how I feel about putting my work on Tumblr (or Instagram), except instead of a “pittance” I would get zero dollars.
When I first started shopping The Family Monster around, I got offers of “exposure” but none of real, actual money. I am glad I took The Colorado Daily up on their offer, because it led to me getting paid (however small an amount) by McClatchy-Tribune Campus. However, even after I was getting a regular paycheck, I continued to receive offers of exposure (not money) by other publications. Did they think I was so desperate for an audience, any audience, that I’d give my hard work away for free? The old metaphor about giving a plumber exposure instead of paying him for his work comes to mind. Artists, it seems, are easily exploited. It is true most cartoonists are somewhat masochistic, but there is a limit.
While I love posting pictures of Reed on Instagram, and have begun sporadically posting favorite single panels of comics I’m reading on Tumblr, I cannot see the point in doing to myself what others have tried to do to me in the past: make my work worthless.
I’m not even sure what Tumblr means. I’ve seen about 50,000 amazing images for less than one second each. Is the human brain able to process any of that?
Here on this blog you’ll find plenty of my work which I happily post. The difference is, I own this blog. I own this website. All the folks who visit are here to see what I’ve got cooking (sorry, no jambalaya today). With those other websites, I’m merely providing free content to help generate revenue for someone else. I understand that’s part of the deal: I get to use Instagram to look at everybody else’s pretty pictures, and they can look at the pictures I take. I’m just not going to mix that up with my comics.
I hope this doesn’t come off sounding too curmudgeonly. We are all figuring out how best to use social media. In 20 years we’ll all laugh at our hilariously dumbheaded efforts. In the meantime, I thank each of you for supporting me, for buying my comics, because each time that happens I realize the dream I’ve had since I was a kid.