Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The End of "The Boiling Point"
I've been considering this seriously for over two years now, but I'm not ashamed to say that when I came to my final decision yesterday and notified my major remaining clients via email there was indeed some uncontrollable sobbing on my part.
I've been drawing political cartoons since high school. I started drawing them regularly again in college with a vengeance in 2001 (which is when I started this blog) and I've been drawing them professionally for newspapers and paying web clients since 2002. Over the years my cartoons have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Boston Phoenix, Bay Windows, Metro Times, The Rochester Insider, Women's eNews, In These Times, Ms., The Funny Times, Campus Progress, Girlfriends, The Minnesota Women's Press, and other assorted fine publications. I've been interviewed by NPR and the BBC, appeared in art exhibitions such as "She Draws Comics: A Century of Women Cartoonists" and come in third place in the Detroit SPJ Journalism Awards for editorial cartooning. This past fall I was elected Vice-President of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (a position I'll hold until this September).
So why am I quitting? It's not as if the world is running any lower on evil wars, economic injustice, environmental disaster, homophobia, transphobia, racism, misogyny... And while he's no Bush, I'm certainly no big fan of Obama.
- The political cartooning market sucks (and I suck at marketing.) This is really no secret. I started out in 2002 with one paying client, the Boston Phoenix. Over the years I picked up and dropped more, and at my peak I was appearing regularly in six or seven print papers. In the past two years, as my clients eliminated or cut their political cartoon content, that number dwindled down to two, and finally, just one (the Metro Times). I made some marketing efforts, pitched to editors, sent out packets--but got little to show for it. I did have a few fabulous web clients, but my cartooning income had halved, then quartered itself.
When I first began freelance political cartooning I had hopes of somehow making it a full-time career, but after a few years it became clear I would always need a full-time job in addition.
- The relentless deadlines. There are no vacations or sick days in freelance weekly alternative political cartoons. When I had pneumonia in 2003... I had to draw or risk losing my papers. When I had severe carpal tunnel problems in 2008, my husband Masheka had to illustrate my cartoons for me. I had to draw a cartoon the morning for before my wedding and while on my honeymoon. Sometimes you need to take a break--but you just can't. (And yes, I know I could have drawn some extra cartoons and saved them up for a rainy day, but still!).
- I'm just TIRED. And it's not just because I'm hugely pregnant and exhausted all the time, though that certainly doesn't help. I've tried to develop a thick skin and ignore or laugh at the nasty hate mail, the "hope U burn in hel" and "you can't draw" and "you uggly dike bitch I hop the papers cancel you're stupid cartoons" letters and comments, but after a while, it gets a girl down. I wasn't getting paid enough for that kind of abuse.
- I need to make room for other things (and a tiny new person) in my life. I have a lot of other passions and projects I've been wanting to tackle over the years, but drawing political cartoons in addition to working full time and having some vague semblance of a social life has made it difficult to pursue them fully. With the peanuts I was earning for political cartooning, I was theoretically doing it for fun--but I wasn't really having fun anymore.
I'd like to do a graphic novel or a cartoon book on body image issues (along the lines of my "Your Yucky Body" cartoons) someday. I love writing science fiction. I LOVE to make things, and I've recently been having an amazing, hate-mail-free time blogging about sewing and style at Polka Dot Overload.
Not to mention that Masheka and I are expecting our daughter (our first child) on June 18. I'm going to be going back to work full-time after a 12-week maternity leave, and if I'm this exhausted and finding it this hard to draw cartoons and while pregnant, I'd be foolish to imagine it would be any easier while taking care of a newborn.
Despite all that, it was still a hard decision. I'll definitely miss:
- Having a regular public outlet to express my outrage. I'm still furious and I'm still angry and I still want to fight injustice and make change in this world. But I'll just have to do that in other ways and venues.
- The fans. You are awesome. Every time in the past I thought about quitting I'd get an amazing and inspiring letter or comment or meet someone at a cartooning convention who'd been reading my work since the beginning and I'd get new energy to keep drawing.
- Hanging with fellow political cartoonists. I've loved being a part of the AAEC and Cartoonists With Attitude, and I've made some of my best friends through these groups. Obviously I'm still a cartoonist and they're still my friends, but I will miss some of the camaraderie in griping about what it's like to be a regular political cartoonist.
But as I said above, I won't miss the hate mail, the comment trolls, or the never-ending deadlines.
So what's next for me? As mentioned, I have a new blog about sewing and style for those of you who care about such things, Polka Dot Overload. And Cartoonist Baby will be here in a matter of weeks. I'll be leaving this blog and my complete cartoon archives old (1998-2008) and more recent up indefinitely.
I may post occasional political thoughts or cartoons here again, and I'll let you know about those graphic novel or book projects, but it'll probably be rather silent here for a while. For now you can always read the work of my amazing friends in CWA, folks like Ted Rall, Brian McFadden, Matt Bors, Jen Sorensen, Stephanie McMillan, Keith Knight...
Signing off for now...
Your Angry Cartoonist
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I realize I don't look particularly angry in the above image, but that's only because I clipped it from an illustration I did of a vintage dress pattern I'm sewing. But trust me, I'm still SEETHING with RAGE, even in my fabulous orange floral silk maternity dress.
Here's the retired banner:
Here's the image I pulled the new banner from:
Friday, December 04, 2009
Click to enlarge
Notice any differences between this picture and this one taken just a month ago (besides the lack of googly eyes)?
Anyway, this is why I have been under the weather so much lately. I've discovered it's quite a bit more difficult to blog/draw/whatever when you're uncontrollably nauseous all the time.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Cartoon: Bloggers Without Book Deals
Click to enlarge
Even though I mock the concept, I've found myself reading and enjoying quite a few of these "one-year blog project" blogs—even the ones with book deals. Such as:
- Julie Powell's The Julie/Julia Project, which became Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen and eventually Julie & Julia: The Movie. If you haven't heard of this one you've been under a rock, and I admit to picking up the edition of Julie & Julia with Amy Adams on the cover and the edition of My Life in France with Meryl Streep on the cover (I was at a train station news stand, ok?). I have to admit the movie half about Julie Powell's blog project left out most of the fun bits—her self-deprecating humor, her friends' romantic mishaps, her rants against Republicanism, the flies and maggots. But whatever, I generally enjoyed the movie and there were no celebrations of high-heeled shoes to be found. I even made cassoulet before going to see it.
- Colin Beavan's No Impact Man blog, about to be launched as a book ("No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet...") and a documentary. It's about a New York family who tries to reduce their carbon footprint to as close to zero as possible, even eschewing public transportation, elevators, toilet paper and packaged goods from the farmer's market. It's educational and inspiring, but I worry that the focus is too much on individuals choosing to reduce. Still, at least he rejects green consumerism and silly half-measures and I love the anti-consumption message.
- Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.Another inspirational tale about a family, in this case a family on a small farm in Virginia, attempting to eat as locally as possible for a year (including growing and preserving their own produce and raising chickens and turkeys for eggs and meat). Just a book and website, not so much a blog, but it's a similar type of project, and quite eye-opening. I even ordered the 30-minute mozzarella cheese-making kit she mentions. My only gripe was the random rant against vegetarianism, which seemed odd coming from someone who rejects CAFO meats. Even Michael Pollan (guilty of a similar weird treatment of vegetarianism in The Omnivore's Dilemma) has come to the conclusion that it's not enough help to the environment to just eat free-range meat—Americans need to eat WAY fewer meat and dairy products.
P.S. I have nothing against tripe or offal (if you're going to eat meat—which I do—might as well make use of every bit) though I doubt they would be palatable in cereal form.
P.P.S. I am quite myopic and did once (accidentally) get the wrong glasses prescription. I went around with what Kurt Vonnegut would call a "whanging headache" all day, bumping into all sorts of fun walls and whatnot. No fun! But not particularly blog-worthy.
P.P.P.S. I got so caught up I forgot to mention the other reasons I loved Kingsolver's book--my grandparents had a farm in Maine, and when I was a kid, my family had a huge vegetable garden and fruit trees and kept ducks and chickens. We had fresh duck eggs for breakfast on weekends and made homemade applesauce, peanut butter, pickles, canned stews, the works.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Vice President Reid!
P.S. Also, I may have mentioned this before, but I'm on Twitter. You could have gotten that news live from the nomination meeting!
Thursday, June 04, 2009
Back from Europe!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Sugary new heights of giggle
Monday, April 27, 2009
Two Left Feet: A (Mostly) True Story
Click to enlarge
The true part is that I rebroke my foot recently while Masheka was still in his left foot cast. The not-true part is that it was intentional--having a broken foot SUCKS. And HURTS!
Note: I rarely use photo references when drawing myself, but I needed them here--these are quite accurate recreations of how I broke my foot, the giant stack of pillows (complete with cats) I used to keep it elevated, etc. I even donned a wool coat in 80ish degree heat to pose for panel three!
P.S. Yes my foot is all blue and nasty under the cast--or it was last time. I'm sure it will be again when they remove the current cast.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
My brother's burning house
Not at all comics-related, but I love these pictures. My brother and his wife bought a piece of land in Maine that had an incredibly decrepit unlivable old house on it, so the fire department burnt it down as a training exercise. Photo by my mother Beryl Reid.
Here's the final result:
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Detroit SPJ Journalism Award
Update: More here.
Monday, April 20, 2009
I broke my foot. Again.
More cartoons soon, by the way. About torture.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Update on My Hacked and Delisted Website
I asked Google to relist me, but that might take a while. And I'm not sure how to prevent the attacks happening again. So now a web search for my name comes up first with the MySpace page about my cartoons that I do not check or update. Blech. How exactly do I prevent this crap from happening going forward?
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Google says I've been hacked--and they're delisting me? Help!
By the way, I did check to make sure this wasn't a spam email--I have a webmaster account on Google and it really is from them.
Dear site owner or webmaster of mikhaela.net,This sucks and I am royally confused.
While we were indexing your webpages, we detected that some of your pages were using techniques that are outside our quality guidelines, which can be found here: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35769&hl=en. This appears to be because your site has been modified by a third party. Typically, the offending party gains access to an insecure directory that has open permissions. Many times, they will upload files or modify existing ones, which then show up as spam in our index.
The following is some example hidden text we found at http://mikhaela.net/:
# # fathers # ub # comunity # mambo # seam # denied # resellers # racial # knight
In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from mikhaela.net are scheduled to be removed temporarily from our search results for at least 30 days.
We would prefer to keep your pages in Google's index. If you wish to be reconsidered, please correct or remove all pages (may not be limited to the examples provided) that are outside our quality guidelines. One potential remedy is to contact your web host technical support for assistance. For more information about security for webmasters, see http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-sites-been-hacked-now-what.html. When such changes have been made, please visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration?hl=en to learn more and submit your site for reconsideration.
Sincerely, Google Search Quality Team
Now on Twitter, though not sure why, exactly
Friday, March 27, 2009
About that out-dated Bush-crushing banner...
Friday, February 06, 2009
Me, Interviewed on InTheseTimes.com
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Happy New Year!
What a great start to 2009!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
you know what makes me mad?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Mikhaela's K Chronicles Quasi-Cameo!
Speaking of Keef, have you heard that he's now doing a hilarious DAILY comic strip called The Knight Life? Tell your local newspaper so you don't have to go through any more Keef withdrawal EVER AGAIN.
I also think I should have more cameos from my friends and family in my cartoons. I've drawn my dad into my cartoon twice but my mom deserves to be a star too!
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Why draw cartoons: A letter
Hey, well, I was disappointed in your list of reasons to keep doing cartoons. You missed three reasons that should be at the top of the list:
- Disappointing all your fans if you stop.
- You would cause my moral compass to point to supporting McCain, listening to Limbaugh and joining the American Enterprise Institute.
- If you stop, it would mean The Man has gotten to you. You cannot let the sexist barriers he has set up to prevent women from becoming political cartoonists stop you.
Oh, please spare me that dastardly Right Wing fate and continue cranking out those cartoons. I really do not wanna be a Republican...
Here is virtual hug of lefty support,
Why draw alternative political cartoons?
Dear readers, forgive your cartoonist for having an existential crisis, but I've been asking myself this question a lot lately, and you may have noticed this blog and the email list have been relatively quiet as a result. I've been drawing the cartoons as usual, but have been slow to post or email them due to aforesaid existential cartooning funk.
Some arguments FOR drawing weekly political cartoons:
- To make a difference. I don't have any illusions that political cartoons will change the world or end the war or have a huge mind-blowing impact, but I really love the awesome fan mail, especially in regards to my cartoons on LGBT issues and transgender issues. Clearly my cartoons are making a lot of people happy. I'm just not sure how happy they're making me!
- To vent my personal anger and outrage and to have an outlet for my views/voice. This was the main reason I started drawing The Boiling Point, as the name implies. It's still a pretty good damn reason, as I'm a pretty damn angry cartoonist. I'm a passionate person and I need an outlet.
- Because drawing is cool/fun. Well, sometimes it is. Still, I could draw a lot of more fun things than George W. Bush. Like really adorable kittens.
- Because being a cartoonist and hanging out with other cartoonists is awesome. This is a really, really good reason. I love hanging out with my fellow Cartoonists With Attitude, and I've made some of my best friends in the world via cartooning.
- To make money. Just kidding! If I drew a sci-fi webcomic featuring snarky hipster video game romance in space*, maybe I could sell some T-shirts and figurines and live off that. But there's little to no money in alt-weekly cartoons unless you've got a slew of papers. Many papers pay as little as $5/week. NOT JOKING. (See this depressing comments thread on the Daily Cartoonist for more on this topic--the basic conclusion is that there's no money in online editorial cartooning).
- It builds an audience... that could later support me should I pursue other projects I care about, like a graphic novel or children's book or what-have-you.
Some arguments AGAINST drawing weekly political cartoons:
- It's a lot of work for very little pay/reward. This is my main beef. I'm a big believer in the "less work, less stuff, more of what matters" philosophy espoused by Juliet Schor and Your Money or Your Life. I believe Americans work too much and have too little quality leisure time. I believe Americans spend too much, save too little and own too much stuff. And I believe in fair wages.
SO WHY DO I SPEND SO MANY HOURS SITTING ALONE BEHIND A DRAWING BOARD OR AT THE COMPUTER FOR WHAT AMOUNTS TO LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE WHEN I COULD BE OUT RIDING MY BIKE OR SPENDING TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY OR DOING ACTIVIST WORK? (I work an awesome full-time job in addition to cartooning, in case you're wondering). Where's the light at the end of the tunnel? Sorry for E-shouting, but I ask myself that question a lot. I feel like such a hypocrite sometimes--my life philosophy is in direct opposition to my life reality.
- It's damned depressing. War, genocide, injustice, bigotry, hatred, bombings, racism, homophobia, xenophobia, power struggles, Dick Cheney, repeat, repeat, repeat. Following the news so closely and being engaged with it so deeply while feeling I'm having so little practical impact is incredibly demoralizing.
- It has no future and nothing to look forward to. Newspapers are in trouble and slashing budgets left and right, and editorial cartoons and editorial cartoonists get no respect. Graphic novels and animation seem to be where it's at right now.
OK, end whiny rant. And no, I'm not quitting, just venting. But I sure could use some supportive comments! I promise to have a bunch of cartoons and other cool stuff up for you all soon.
*This is not a slur on sci-fi webcomics. Science fiction is my favorite genre (I love you Octavia Butler and Battlestar Galactica). I'm only bummed because it seems like pretty much everything is more "monetizable" than political cartoons. Also, I hate the word "monetizable."
Friday, January 25, 2008
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Still trying to learn Flash animation...
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Where do I sign up for the cartoonists and bloggers union?
The Huffington Post, capitalized to the tune of $10 million, employs 43 full-time employees, all of whom presumably receive actual cash money, and health benefits, and maybe even a 401(k), for their efforts. But, USA Today reports, "it has no plans to begin paying bloggers. Ever." Ken Lerer, company co-founder, former Time Warner executive, and probably himself in it for the money, says: "That's not our financial model. We offer them visibility, promotion and distribution with a great company."
It's hypocritical for moneyed and supposedly progressive outlets like HuffPo asking writers to opine on subjects such as labor issues for no money whatsoever. (Smaller blogs run by unpaid editors are another matter). What would Arianna Huffington say if she heard about a factory in which workers were paid in internet exposure? Some other choice points:
Hardly a day passes without finding a pitch from some wannabe freeloader in my e-mail. "Our magazine doesn't have a budget for content, but we'd love to use your cartoon about…" "We can't offer a salary per se, but you would get amazing exposure to thousands of discrete users if…" Content is still king. Online leeches just don't want to pay the kingmakers.I can relate to this 100%. Outlets seem shocked that I don't want to work for free--after all, don't I want exposure FOR MY CARTOON ABOUT OPPRESSED WORKERS?
Finally, Ted tries an experiment:
I called the bank that holds my mortgage. "I don't have a budget to pay you per se," I cooed. "But think of the awesome prestige your corporation receives just by being associated with a cartoonist and columnist whose work is literally read by millions of--" Click. Citibank (Bangalore), Ltd., signing out. Back to work!The only reason this website doesn't lose money is my Google Ads. I did have hopes when I first put out Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela! that all that magical exposure I've been getting would help me sell enough books to make up for the work I put into designing it, but so far, I haven't quite broken even. Hint, hint...
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Trying to learn Flash...
Friday, August 10, 2007
Yeah, yeah, I'm still drawing...
Monday, July 02, 2007
Our Newly Rescued Orange Manx Kitty: Octavia
Rescued Orange Manx Kitty: Octavia
Originally uploaded by M1khaela.
Masheka and I are off to Washington, DC for the 50th Anniversary Convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. We'll be hanging out with the Cartoonists With Attitude crew (AAEC Vice President Ted Rall, plus Keith Knight, Jen Sorensen, Matt Bors, Brian McFadden, Stephanie McMillan, Ruben Bolling, August Pollak, Ben Smith) and a huge convention of famous-type editorial cartoonists (Tom Toles, Joel Pett, Clay Bennett, Signe Wilkinson, Rob Rogers and many many more!) plus special guests like Tom Tomorrow, Duncan Black and the Comics Curmudgeon. I may even bring a laptop and blog about some of the panels.
In our absence, I leave you with this photo of our newly rescued cat, Octavia, kneading me with her claws as I try to finish up the Cartoonists With Attitude Slideshow for our event this Saturday.
We've felt for a while that our other cat Riley was lonely and just too friendly and social and playful to stay home by himself while we're at work. A rescue group in our neighborhood saved this little orange fuzzball from the euthanasia queue at Animal Care and Control. We barely had her home for a few hours before she decided she had to sit in one of our laps 24/7.
We named her Octavia to (a) pay tribute to the late great science fiction writer Octavia Butler and because (b) she seems like one of the weird alien creatures from Ms. Butler's books, with her giant orange eyes, her taillessness (she's a Manx cat, and apparently this is how many of them are born) and her weird bunny-style gait.
Her political affiliations are yet to become clear, but hopefully she'll be more progressive than our other cat.
I must add that lazy and unapologetic as other other cat is, he'd never have pardoned Scooter Libby.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Well, the site AUTOMATICALLY EMAILED AN OBNOXIOUS "Mikhaela has tagged you ;)" email to EVERYONE I HAVE EVER EMAILED EVER via Gmail, including important editors of magazines and newspapers, journalists, my bank, my website host, all my friends and relatives, coworkers, ex-coworkers, managers, you name it. I feel embarassed, gauche, spam-tastic, awful, and worried that important journalistic and editorial contacts will now find me incredibly obnoxious and add me to their spam blockers.
This SUCKS. If you receive emails from this site IGNORE THEM or FACE THE PERIL.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Attack of the 50-Foot Mikhaela Official Release Date Pushback to August 6
The Cartoonists With Attitude DC event on 7/7/07 will be my last book event for a while, as Masheka and I are planning our wedding. The tour will restart in Boston in September.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Defend your cartoonist!
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Meta: About those Google ads for Ann Coulter...
Despite my annoyance and inability to target the ads (is there some way to do that?), I think I'll keep them around. I get a little bit of money every time someone clicks on an ad (I'm not allowed to click on my own ads, for obvious reasons). So far I'm making a measly 70 cents a day on average, and there's been a few days where the site actually earned a whole $4. Which means I'm on target to not actually lose money on the site, barely.
Update: Turns out that although I can't specify that I want liberal or progressive ads, I can block ads from specific website. I've just blocked the Ann Coulter ad so hopefully it won't show up again.
Monday, June 04, 2007
apologies for the silence, I've got the flu
Update: over four days of yuck now and not feeling any better. Went to my doctor and looks like it's strep throat or something. Penicillin time! Hopefully I'll be better by Thursday in time for our book tour kick-off in Detroit Saturday. You can read last week's cartoon on GoComics.com, where I debuted on Monday. Back to bed!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Update your blog bookmarks to mikhaela.net
Thursday, May 03, 2007
Testing new blog look/title--thoughts?
My current annoyance is that the image now up top of this blog is awfully large, file-size-wise, and takes time to load. I'm going to work on slicing it up or reducing it somehow.
Also, I'm pondering a switch from Blogger to WordPress. I briefly tried to do the Expression Engine thing a while ago, but I don't have time to code from scratch and there really aren't nearly as many templates and plugins for EE as there are for WordPress, plus WordPress is free.