I actually like Ted Rall’s cartooning – don’t always agree with him but to me if you’re going to put yourself out there as an editorial cartoonist it helps to actually editorialize in the cartoon. Rall does that fearlessly.
But apparently Rall seems to think the only way to success in comics is through the narrow prism of his own experiences. He can’t seem to stand thinking about any other avenue to a sustainable career in comics despite his clear understanding that the newspaper biz is dying and killing off editorial (and all) comics in the newspaper even faster. There’s a somewhat over-long interview between Ted Rall and Rall protege Matt Bors in the recent issue of TCJ (available online now) where Rall just can’t leave "webcomics" alone:
How can we be "alternative"? There are more political cartoons drawn and published in "alternative" styles — in altweeklies — than there are in dailies. Indeed, the only thing more annoying than the lame posturing of a few ridiculous tools like Scott Kurtz (PVP) and the Penny Arcade guys (who apparently have Roman orgies every time a staff editorial cartoonist loses his job and winds up unemployed) is the term "webcartoonist." What the fuck does that mean? Oh, I know: Cartoonists who post their stuff online for free and sell visitors to their websites merchandise like T-shirts and books. And who attend lots of comics conventions. Well, gee, what cartoonist doesn’t do that? We all do. We all have been. Everyone is a webcartoonist now.
What’s disconcerting beyond the ridiculous Amway-like rhetoric ("You too can make BIG CASH MONEY making comics FROM HOME!") is that free has become a religion for the e-vangelists. They give cartoons away for free that they could sell — simply by asking! You and I were on a group phone chat a while back with webcartoonists like Kurtz and someone — I forget who — said he wouldn’t even know how to ask for money. I said: "You just ask, ‘Do you have a budget for this?’" It really is that simple. Not only are these guys driving down the prices for all of us who are trying to make a living, they’re doing the same thing editorial cartoonists are doing by lowering the quality. Look at webcartoons like PVP and Penny Arcade, by all accounts the most successful webcomics around. Kurtz tried to give PVP away for free to newspapers a while back and there were no takers. Why? Because it’s terrible. Incompetently written. Awful characterization. Plastic, cold artwork. Syndication 1.0 had flaws. It kept out good, daring work. But now that there’s no gatekeeper, all the shit is everywhere. It used to be off the page. Now it’s damned near impossible for readers to distinguish what’s good because it’s surrounded by crap. That’s not good for the profession. A terrible mainstream comic like Tumbleweeds had a base level of competence. Only a half-dozen webcomics, like Diesel Sweeties, Cat and Girl, etc. do.