Cartooning for a Sustainable Future
Will editorial cartoonists find their (paid) place on the web?
By Alysia Santo
The proprietors of YubaNet, a two-person news operation covering California’s Sierra region, count a subscription to Cagle Post as one of their most important investments. Pascale Fusshoeller, the site’s editor, says that the cartoon section draws consistently high traffic numbers “every single day.” “If the cartoons aren’t up by 7 am, I get e-mails or calls like, ‘Hey, there is no cartoon today,’” says Fusshoeller. “Some people are very attached. They start their day with these cartoons.”
Other cartoonists choose to self-syndicate rather than sign with a third party. Mark Fiore, who won a Pulitzer in 2010 for his animated political cartoons, says he was syndicated with Universal Uclick for a few years, but felt “they’re no better at it than I am.” Instead, he chose to “pound the pavement” to sell his own work. Now, he collects advertising revenue from his website and his YouTube channel. “In a way, YouTube is a syndicate for me; they are selling the ads, and getting my work out there.” There’s no way to undercut syndicates, says Fiore, “unless your selling it for pennies,” so cartoonists have to find a way to offer something unique from what the syndicates offer. “The syndicates are cartooning’s best friends and worst enemy,” says Fiore, but to break free from that, “You’ve got to figure out the hustle.”