The Twitter Interview: 'PvP' Creator Scott Kurtz
Today, Comic Riffs continues its four-day look at cartoonists who use Twitter. Yesterday, we spoke with "Candorville" cartoonist Darrin Bell, and in today's print edition of The Washington Post, we discuss Twitter at length with a range of cartoonists.
So in the blog today, we pose our questions to SCOTT KURTZ, creator of the webcomic franchise "PvP." Kurtz has some 12,000 followers on Twitter, not surprising considering his strip's popularity online. Kurtz took the time to ponder our questions in more than 140-characters per entry:
MICHAEL CAVNA: As a cartoonist who has such online popularity, how crucial do you think social networking is to growing that popularity in 2009?
SCOTT KURTZ: The appeal of social networking is that people are looking to connect with other people of like-minded interests. By participating, I'm allowing my readers to connect to me and my work more than they did before. Having 100,000 casual readers isn't as important at 10,000 invested readers. When you get to know a person intimately, you can't help but get invested in their life. That's what social networking is about for cartoonists. Helping our readers get more invested in our work.
MC: Has Twitter been vital to helping you reach new readers? And do you think Twitter offers advantages for cartoonists trying to build audiences that perhaps Facebook, MySpace et al. don't?
SK: It's hard for me to tell if Twitter has brought me new readers. Occasionally I'll get a tweet from someone who's found "PvP" for the first time but I'm unsure of how they discovered the strip via Twitter. Possibly from being mentioned in tweets from other pretty popular people like Wil Wheaton or Leo Laporte,maybe? MySpace has a horrible interface, and Facebook has a limited number of "friends" you can have. With Twitter, people usually have it open in the background while they work or surf, and so it's easier for everyone to stay connected in real-time.
MC: As newspapers shrink or dissove their comics section (or fold completely), you seem particularly well-positioned online. What can other cartoonists learn from your online presence?
SK: Cartooning online has its pros and cons. We use the Internet as a tool. We still work in print, we still distribute to brick-and-mortar stores. The only difference between ourselves and traditional syndicated cartoonists is that we're retaining ownership of our properties and distributing our comic strips online instead of via papers. The business models are almost identical. We just have to make less since we're keeping it all. And we get to retain our ownership so we have complete control over our property and really have to answer to no one but ourselves and our families. Nobody can fire me but my readers.
MC: Are there any drawbacks to being a Twitter-popular cartoonist? And what's the biggest upside?
SK: The drawback is that it's a distraction from my work. Sometimes I have to turn it off to make sure I'm not paying more attention to what my readers are saying than the work in front of me. The biggest upside is the instant feedback I get. It's wonderful. That doesn't happen offline.
(NOTE: For cartoon updates, follow Comic Riffs at Twitter.com/comicriffs.)
| April 1, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories: Interviews With Cartoonists
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