Digital Asteroid Clobbers Olde Media World

I sure hope folks like our pal JJ here (and me) can figure out how to make a living in this dead-trees-free world.

Reading comics on a computer monitor

Mindful Webworker posted the following comment to the website of Arlo & Janis cartoonist Jimmy Johnson. The subject was televisions in restaurants.

When it comes to public TVs, I have most enjoyed Mexican-language soap operas in a good Mexican restaurant. Cerveza helps.

For some time now, we have had no antenna, no cable TV, no satellite TV. (I listen to the radio in the car sometimes.) We're the Nielsens' worst nightmare. When we are at someone's home where the TV is on, or in public with TVs blaring (or at least glaring), we realize how removed from the broadcast culture we have become. "You know that commercial...?" No. "Have you seen that show...?" Probably not. They now have a channel just for that?

It's not that we don't like some of the shows and even good commercials (the world's greatest short-attention-span theater until YouTube). We see many of both, new and vintage, but not what MadAve or NBCBS or FOXWB wants us to see RIGHT NOW. No pushcasts. Not even talking news heads.

We get news, comics, TV, movies, even ads, and lots more videos and audios besides, all on-line. We see and hear and read what we want when we want, and watch TV without commercial interruptions. (Although, in truth, we've been doing this since we could first tape-delay and fast-forward, but you'd still see the commercials fly by.)

So, sometimes I just can't look away in restaurants. Ha ha! Funny commercial. (Others are inured to it; I'll look it up on YouTube.) But mostly, I'm astonished at the unbelievably tasteless, violent, frenetic, madness-inducing sensory assault (also the stuff that's not the news or sports k'chng). Worse, the realization that for most folks, this dreck, at home or elsewhere, is their normal mental background radiation.

My keyboard ranneth over, so I excised the following from what I posted to JJ's site.

Peripherally, relatedly, I sure hope folks like our pal JJ here (and me) can figure out how to make a living in this dead-trees-free world. Will newspapers and-or syndicates and-or whatever morph effectively? As strong as my surprise at the assault of broadcast TV is my surprise when I pick up print newspapers, full of 'news' I read at least yesterday, and especially I'm more horrified each time I encounter the squinty, colorless nightmare of forced choices that is the newspaper comics page!

On-line, space constraints of print become merely bandwidth questions, insignificant in this video-bandwidth age.

Those Non-Sequiturs and Funky Winkerbeans that make one turn one's newspaper (or computer monitor) sideways could (could but aren't) run in the right direction. Sundays need never cut the top tier. (Back to work on that extra strip a week, JJ. :)

Intentional color or not, at the artist's preference. (Thinking of the Fox Trot guy griping about coloring Coke cans in the dailies.) [CITATION NEEDED]

On and on.

The guy at Questionable Content says he makes a living off QC now, but I don't know what his living standards are. (If like his characters, minimal Bohemian--heh.)

In a comment responding to the current comics syndicate takeover, I just read that XKCD gets more hits per day than all the syndicated strips combined.

The web is a growing world-wide market which can reduce greatly the costs of getting from artist to audience, and cut the overhead of middlemen (but not eliminate -- few creators are good self-marketers, right, JJ?). Old media looks for secondary marketing, like the comics page. Old media looks for maximizing unit costs and cramming folks into the theater the first weekend, but more people will pay a dollar at the RedBox than will blow twenty on a new DVD. New media can be more direct, and while webvertising (ironically) will surely continue to be some support, I deem that new media can best survive by reducing direct consumer cost to seeming pittance and maximizing that "world wide" sales part. I can't say whether, much less how, this will work, but it seem t'me digital plus web hasn't just changed the game; it has clobbered the gameboard like an asteroid! Adapt or dino.