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Educating Copyright Thieves…

January 20th, 2015

… one at a time.


Dear Lettie,

No doubt you are well aware of this, but several of the items you have for sale in your Etsy store use caricatures of mine, taken from my website and colorized/manipulated into T-shirt designs. You do not have permission to use my work and are in direct violation of my copyright. Here are links to the offending items:

Matt Smith, Tom Baker, Daniel Craig, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Lautner (again), Tom Baker (again)

This is a courtesy letter to give you a chance to remove these items from your store. If they are still active by tomorrow morning at this time, I will initiate copyright infringement report protocol to Etsy, something they do not tolerate well.

I notice you have a number of other caricature-based items using work that is likely not your own… in fact I recognized the work of a few caricaturists I know among them. I would advise you to remove them as well, as I will be sending an alert out to the caricaturist community that you are a serial infringer and others should check your store to make sure none of their work has been stolen. The caricature world is a small one and this sort of thing does not go unnoticed for long.

You should know that images on the internet are not free for your use. If you did not create it yourself, it does not belong to you and cannot be used by you without permission of the person that did create it. It’s very simple. Don’t steal images.

I’m sure you will do the right thing and there will be no need to involve Etsy and put you in a bad position with them. Thanks for your quick action in this matter. I am happy to have been able to educate you on this issue, and am sure you will respect the copyrights of artists in the future. Have a wonderful day.

Tom Richmond

That took several minutes of my life I won’t get back, but another ignorant copyright thief educated is one less out there in the world.

Many thanks to Jedd Bluhm, who alerted me to the issue.

Monday MADness: Spider-Sham!

January 19th, 2015

Monday MADness

This week’s Monday MADness features the art I did for Dick DeBartolo‘s parody of the first “Spider-Man” movie with Tobey McGuire. that appeared in MAD #418, June 2002. You remember… when Spider-Man movies were good? (Clicky any to embiggen…)




Sunday Mailbag: Future of Cartooning?

January 18th, 2015

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: My question is regarding your thoughts on the future of comics and illustration in general. Newspaper printing seems to be headed towards a very different form in the coming years (or possibly by the wayside completely) and I was curious to hear (read) your thoughts or predictions about where the future of the cartooning industry lies.

A: That’s a big question, but pretty easy to answer in general terms. One: publishing and media consumption in general is going to move almost exclusively to the internet over the next decade or so. Two: cartooning and comics will move with it.

I don’t have any idea what kind of business model(s) will end up being viable in the digital age of media. I think what we will see is a lot of self-published creators combined with a few media giants who will figure out how to present the work of creators on the internet and still have consumers pay for that content… probably through a combination of advertising, subscriptions or ancillary purchases (upselling?). Comic book companies like DC, Marvel and others will continue doing what they do, syndicates like King Features and Universal UClick will transition comic strips into a web-based service of some kind, and magazines/publications will change into internet publications. Advertising will drive most of it, I think. People don’t seem to realize that right now there are still billions of dollars spend on print advertising every year in magazines, newspapers and comic books. When the print business goes away, those companies will still want to spend those billions on advertising for their products… they aren’t going to suddenly say “Well, I guess we don’t need to advertise anymore.” They will want to spend that money where they reach the most potential customers… and that will be on the internet on websites where the content gets tons of traffic. That revenue will be used by to pay to get the best content up on their internet publications to drive traffic… and that means paying the best creators to create it. Cartoonists, comic artists and illustrators will be hired to do it. That said, the boon the internet gave self-publishing will not go away. The ease of disseminating your work and setting up ways to generate revenue from it combined with the incredibly vast number of people using the internet will continue to make self-published comics on the web viable.

I’ve made this point before: none of this is really new. There has always been independent comics creators out there publishing their own work, and there have always been big publishers producing the mainstream stuff. The difference in the last 15 years has been the internet and its ability to allow creators to instantly publish work and make it available to about 2 billion potential readers for next to nothing in costs. Prior to the internet, self-publishing was regulated to ash-can comics being peddled at comic-cons and maybe local comics shops. The costs of quality printing and real distribution was impossible for most independent creators. That is no longer the case. The interesting dynamic here is that self-published creators have about a decade head start on the media giants when it comes to web-based comics. As a result many of the talents that, in a tradition publishing world, probably would be producing work for Marvel or King Features or Conde Nast right now already have established careers self-publishing, and are now the model for up-and-coming talents that eschew the print media world entirely. I think once the big media guns start paying for web-based content in earnest you will see that swing back the other way. Money talks and not many cartoonists also have the business/tech savvy to run their own company and do the creative.

The bottom line here is that the publishing world will sort itself out into the digital landscape, and cartooning and illustration will follow along. The world is not going to suddenly stop wanting to read comics and look at humorous illustrations. There will still be a demand for that kind of work, and computers can create it with software… artists still have to do the creating. It’s an interesting but exciting world coming down the road, it’s exciting to be a part of it.

Thanks to Zack Morris for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!

Again with This Guy…

January 16th, 2015

The Dreaded Deadline DemonI’m swamped after all the time I spent in the last week with the NCS and the events in Paris. Sorry to say posting will be a little light for a while.

NCS Charlie Hebdo Gallery

January 15th, 2015

Je Suis Charlie

For those of you who might be getting tired of all these posts pertaining to the Charlie Hebdo massacre last week, you’ll be relieved to know this will be my last one. This really did rock the cartooning community, and not just political cartoonists.

The National Cartoonists Society made a call to all members (although they welcomed non-member pro submissions) to speak their minds and show support over this terrible event in the best way we know how… through cartoons. There is now an awesome gallery of these cartoons, 130 at last count, up on the NCS website. My contribution is above.

One last thing. I have been one who has gone to great pains to point out that, while I support and am willing to fight for the right to free speech, I do not necessarily agree with how other use that right. In other words, I believe in the philosophy stated in this famous quote by Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often wrongly attributed to Voltaire):

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.

Having been exposed only to a few of the cartoons done by the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists I, like many others, found many of them to be racist, inflammatory, and seemingly pointless. While some may still be, I’d urge you to read this article before completely passing judgement. The author explains that many of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons people object to might seem racist and overly inflammatory, they are in fact satirizing the racism of other publications, organizations and pundits. My analogy for Americans would be if someone unfamiliar with parody and satire watched an episode of “All in the Family”, they may well think it’s a racist show after listening to Archie Bunker’s bigoted talk, but it is in fact lampooning bigots. I guess if anything good come out of this, it could be a greater awareness for Americans about cartooning outside our borders.


Comic Riffs: After Charlie Hebdo

January 14th, 2015

Michael Cavna with the Washington Post’s Comic Riffs writes a great piece about satire on this side of the pond and the effects (if any) the Charlie Hebdo massacre may have on it. Interviews with MAD‘s John Ficarra, editorial cartoonists Matt Bohrs, Jack Ohman and Jen Sorenson, and me.

Sketch o’the Week- Chris Hemsworth!

January 14th, 2015

Cgris Hemsworth ©2015 Tom Richmond

This is heavily based on a gag illustration I did for the MAD show on Cartoon Network, featuring everyone’s favorite cinematic God of Thunder, Chris Hemsworth.

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Me on MPR

January 13th, 2015


I was a guest on “The Daily Circuit” morning show on Minnesota Public Radio with Kerri Miller this morning. They brought me in to discuss cartooning in the U.S. vs other parts of the world, and to address the issue of “how far is too far” when it comes to satire and editorial cartooning. I’m hardly the guy to ask about that… after all a typical example of my “hard hitting” satirical work would be making fun of Jennifer Lawrence and the latest Hunger Games movie. However, you don’t have to be a practitioner of that type of cartooning to understand it and its social/cultural effects.

While we were discussing how editorial concerns about consumer reaction to more extreme cartoons like Charlie Hebdo routinely publishs curtails the publishing of similar cartoons in mainstream media here in this country, a caller ambushed Kerri on the air saying she thought Obama was a Muslim. In a way that caller demonstrated exactly why editors and publishers might be afraid to push buttons too hard–these are the kind of idiots you have to answer to. That’s the downside of free speech… you have to defend the rights of morons to spout their idiocy with the same force as you do those with something constructive to say. The good news is you don;t have to listen to it, and you can call them idiots.

If they ever post an audio clip of the interview, I’ll edit it in here. Here’s that NPR appearance.

Monday MADness- John Ficarra on Charlie Hebdo

January 12th, 2015

Monday MADness

In trying to explain what the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo is to a lot of Americans who had never heard of it, many news sources mentioned MAD Magazine as a comparison. One even went so far as to wonder how the American public would react if a group of gunman went into the MAD offices and gunned down the staff.

The comparison does not fit. While MAD is not afraid to take on controversial topics like religion (and does), it does so within certain boundaries. It attacks hypocrisy, abused authority, and dishonesty, not the core beliefs that people hide behind when performing those acts. MAD also make fun of Kim Kardashian, the latest Hobbit movie and has jokes about boogers. The cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo ignored boundaries and, in fact, made it a point to obliterate them. Two very different animals, but MAD isn’t without its controversial comments on hot button issues.

MAD editor John Ficarra  commented on the Charlie Hebdo massacre and what it means to those who do satire for a living for CBS Sunday Morning yesterday. Read what he has to say, he says it well.

Sunday Mailbag- Ever Fear Offending Someone?

January 11th, 2015

Sunday Mailbag!

Q: In light of the events this week with the Charlie Hebdo massacre, have you ever done any work where you were worried you might offend some crazy extremists and get death threats?

A: Yes. Every time I have to draw Justin Bieber, I’m afraid a belieber will jump me in the streets and force me to listen to some of his music.

Seriously, not really. I don’t do the kind of work that pushes people’s buttons or calls into question their beliefs on something as volatile as religion. I’ve done some politically charged stuff but I can only remember one time I did something and thought “this might upset a certain demographic”. It was just a throwaway gag in a MAD feature called “Is Our World Really All That Different From The Matrix?” In MAD #436, Dec 2003. One of the gags went like this:


Uday and Qusay Hussein had been killed by Task Force 20 that summer, and very graphic pictures of their corpses had been released by the U.S. to some criticism. I wasn’t really concerned about drawing them, but in Arab culture the soles of the feet are considered dirty and to present them to someone is vulgar and insulting. So, in picking this angle I was choosing a very insulting depiction… also the hairs, warts and flies I added were not helping. Anyway, I did not get any death threats, fatwas declared, nor did I have to listen to any Justin Beiber albums. I wasn’t really worried of course, but I was aware of the significance of showing the soles of their feet.

For the record if I’m ever called on to have to do a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, I will do so without hesitation… just like if I am asked to do a caricature of Jesus Christ, Buddha, the Pope… or Justin Beiber.

Thanks to FM Stanley for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar, e-mail me and I’ll try and answer it here!

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