Tuesday, 3 March 2015

The Weasel and the Woodpecker

So far this week, I've drawn about three cartoons and written a Windows program to record all my cartoon submissions. Not that I've submitted many this week -- four or five went to The Spectator yesterday -- but the program is central to my vow to take my cartooning more seriously. My problem is that I've never been much of a 'submitter' and, as they say, you have to play the game to stand a chance of winning a prize.

When the program is completely finished, I might upload it here for free for anybody who might want to use it but even as I type that I have my monetary angel is banging his head against my right shoulder as if to tell me to stop being so damn generous. But, frankly, I don't think there are enough cartoonists or writers in the world who would want to buy it or even would find a need for it. The main reason I've written it is to also help archive my cartoons. I lose too many to computer glitches that I'm trying to make more use of online storage. So, every time I finish a cartoon, I add it to the database which archives a copy to Dropbox. With all my cartoons listed, I can (for the moment 'in theory') simply click a button and generate an email based on the publisher details I've already entered and with the cartoons embedded into the email.

When it's finished, I might give it away, might keep it for myself or I'll ask a few dollars for a copy and stick it over on The Digital Nib. Unlike my previous program, The Gag Machine, this isn't a long term project. It's more of a useful tool I needed and realised I could program in a day. And I did program its basic functionality inside a day. I was writing it when my laptop died on Sunday.

The loss of the laptop has be surprisingly hard. The faded/yellowed/'cooked' label on the back would say I've had the laptop about four years but for about three of those years, I've not switched it on for fear that it would burn out. However, since my writing my 'review' and claiming that I'd never use it again, I'd started to use a thermal cooler beneath the laptop. It didn't do a great deal but it did make it usable for short periods. With a slightly cooler lap, I'd started to use the laptop at least once a day and I'd got it just how I wanted it. I was programming more. Writing more. And then, within about two weeks, it has died with an inevitable smell of burnt solder. It died exactly how it died the first time it blew its video card. I now hate Dell with a passion. That laptop cost me so much to buy, thinking that buying from the XPS range would make it a long term laptop, only to have it now burn out twice. Only this time I've not asked for a repair. I'm not investing another penny into that machine or that company. The XPS 1340 was a horrible machine that should never have gone to market.

I should really get a new (non-Dell) laptop but they're so damn pricey and my attempts to monetise the blog have come to naught. I started my new drive to earn from blogging on the 4th February. It's now the 3rd of March and in one month I've managed to raise a whopping £1.06. That's £1.06 reward for 12 cartoons, 2 Photoshops and 21,000 words. Okay, that's not one of my most productive months but it's surely worth more than £1.06.

I'm not pleading poverty here (though, perhaps, I guess I am) but this is a example of the new internet economy in which the big guys make millions while the rest of us scramble around to earn pennies. The reality is probably that I should really blog less and devote my time to selling my cartoons or my software. It's galling that I think that but even more galling that my past efforts have come to naught. Take this morning's cartoon as an example. If I type 'George Galloway cartoon' into Google, one of mine appears at the top of the search results. That's even before you go into Google image search.

That's really weird and yet deeply satisfying.

The three other cartoons are by heroes of mine: Peter Brookes and Martin Rowson. My cartoon (below top) was drawn years ago when I was first starting out. I don't think it's anywhere as good as today's (below bottom) Galloway cartoon which, I hope, is not as good as the next one I draw.

Yet the cartoon is there. Multiply all those years of effort and count up the many hundreds of cartoons I've drawn, hundreds of thousands of words (I once calculated millions for all the blogs I've written), all of which is still online: and all I have to show for that this month is £1.06.

Forgive me if I sound cynical about the internet. The truth, for me at least, is that I draw a cartoon which hardly anybody looks at whilst Twitter is today dominated by a picture of a woodpecker carrying a weasel on its back. And if a woodpecker carrying a weasel isn't a metaphor for the great democratization of media production then I don't know what is.

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