Sunday, 4 January 2015

Commissioned Art: Fishing at the Loch

The following artwork was commissioned in September 2014 by a friend who wished to give to her father-in-law a unique one-of-a-kind Christmas gift. Christmas has since been and gone and I can now post the image here for all to see without having to worry about spoiling the surprise for the recipient. To order your own caricature portrait for yourself, family or friends, full details can be found at

Saturday, 3 January 2015

APN reneges on "democratic" poll resulting in another blow to the Australian Comic Strip industry.

As previously blogged, APN held an online poll last year to determine which three comic strips would be salvaged in their efforts to save dollars for their bean counters by removing three of the six comic strips they were currently paying for in favour of using the space for cheaper to purchase crossword and sudoku puzzles. Their explanation went as follows:

IF YOU'RE a brainteaser buff or partial to puzzles, we have good news for you.

APN Australian Regional Media's newspapers are revamping its daily puzzle and cartoons pages in the new year, more than doubling the number of puzzles we run now.

This is in response to comprehensive research with our readers, who are telling us they want more caffeine-free ways to kickstart their brains of a morning.

This will mean you will soon have seven puzzles to give you a daily mental workout, and your crossword clues will be a bit easier to read thanks to their larger point size.

As a result, we will be reducing the number of comic strips we offer each day from six to three.

But because we believe in democracy, we're asking you to help us decide which comics stay and which ones go.

At the moment we carry Garfield, Ginger Meggs, Insanity Streak, Swamp Classics, The Phantom and Overboard.

To let us know your three preferences, you can vote in our online reader poll.
After closing the poll a day earlier than had been advertised, the results were as follows:

Quite clearly, the voting public had chosen Australia's Insanity Streak at first place with 25% of the vote, closely followed by Australia's Ginger Meggs at 23% in second place, with Australia's Swamp Classics coming an equal third place with The Phantom from the USA at 18% each. Garfield from the USA had a dismally low 8% of the votes, followed lastly by Overboard, also from the USA, which had an even lower score of 6%.

So the voters had their say in the so called democratic vote and chose three Australian comic strips as their preferred selections for the new year. Democracy was then thrown out of the window when Jason Chatfield received an email about a week after the polls had closed to inform him that his Ginger Meggs strip would no longer be required.

Clearly, the poll didn't go the way that APN had planned. In a test poll, conducted via APN's Daily Mercury newspaper back in October, the results looked like this:
APN had simply assumed that once a poll was put into place which actually stated that three comics were going to get the shaft, that the results would be more or less the same as their initial test poll based on the readership of one of their most popular newspapers.

The test poll results were completely different in that Garfield was in equal first place with Insanity Streak, and Ginger Meggs had come in pathetically last with only 2% of the votes.

So where did it all go wrong?

Firstly, the initial test poll was not implying that three comic strips were to be given the flick. So the only people who voted were those who thought it would be a bit of fun. There were therefore, considerably less people voting for their favourite comic strips while this poll was open, not to mention the fact that they had only brought it to the attention of the readers of one of their newspapers.

Secondly, the democratic poll that actually stated its sole purpose was to eliminate three comic strips at the end of the year, sent lovers of Australian comic strips into a frenzy. A call to arms was heard throughout the online community, especially amongst the many fans of each of the three Australian comic strips who were facing the possibility of never being able to see their favourite strip in newspaper print ever again. Understandably this meant that instead of a handful of readers giving their votes as happened in the test poll, people were now voting from around the country, and asking their friends to vote on their behalf, many of whom that weren't even living in areas that received print editions of APN newspapers.

APN, then cried foul and decided to base their decision on the original test poll, which certainly would not have represented the majority of those who voted within the APN readership areas.

APN had already made up their mind before putting up their democratic poll and were determined to rid themselves of at least one Australian comic strip before the voting had even started. Why? Because the overseas strips are cheaper to purchase due to the fact that they are distributed more widely around the world. They could have quite easily removed Swamp Classics based on the result of their survey, arguing that The Phantom had a few extra decimal points in its favour. Luckily for Gary Clark and for Swamp fans, they chose to base their decision on the test poll instead. Unlucky for Jason Chatfield and Ginger Meggs however, who has been removed from APN's list based on the results of a handful of people from a single newspaper readership who voted in the earlier test poll. Jason, in all his diplomatic wisdom, offered to let APN have the strip at a cheaper cost, but APN rejected his offer nonetheless. It was quite clear that they had already decided to remove Ginger Meggs before the definitive poll was even made live online.

So how does the new look comics/puzzle page look for APN? Below is a copy of the page as it appeared in the Sunshine Coast Daily on the 31st of December 2014:

The following image is how the comics/puzzle page looked on the following day, the 1st of January 2015 (also via the Sunshine Coast Daily):
As you can see, the three strips that survived were the three strips that made the top three in the test poll, and not the strips that came out in front for the official poll.

Thank you APN. It's nice to know you're doing your bit to ensure the Australian comic strip becomes a thing of the past and that we will never see a new Newspaper comic strip emerge successfully from Australia ever again.