Bandit's Banter

I just finished a very busy (but quite rewarding) week in which I doubled my output of Bruno the Bandit strips, i.e. instead of drawing 6 strips this week, I drew 12, in order to finish up the "Castle's Lot" storyline.  The reason for this is that I wanted to take this week off.  I've been working at a fairly steady clip almost since I got back from Dragon*Con last year, and could really use the time off.  Unfortunately, just as I finished up, I came down with a cold, and am now sniffling and snorting my way through writing this column.  Don't know if the arrival of this cold is good timing or bad timing, but it certainly is timing of some sort...

Having said this, I am currently looking at the possibility of reducing the schedule of Bruno the Bandit to 3 strips a week.  Unfortunately, the grim economic reality of the situation may very well demand it.  Folks, I'm not making a whole lot of money at this, and it doesn't look like that situation is going to change any time soon.  In fact, as many of you know, Keenspot itself is feeling the effects of the whole dot-com shakeout.  Banner advertising just isn't working the way everybody had hoped, and as a result, the money Keenspot has earned lately has gone towards paying for bandwidth costs.  Our monthly checks from Keenspot have, for the time being anyway, stopped coming.  We're not sure when they'll start coming again.

As a result, I figure it's time for me to start looking for a so-called "real" job.  And, assuming I find a job, that means I'm going to have to spend less time working on the strip. :-(  Bruno the Bandit is practically a full-time job in itself, as each strip can take me anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to draw.  May not look like it, but that's how long it often takes me.  And that doesn't include writing the scripts for each strip.

In short, I'll have to start treating this as a hobby, as opposed to a full-time job.  I have to look at the possibility that I will never be able to earn a living drawing this strip.  But, while that's a little disappointing, it is by no means the end of the world, for me, OR for the strip.  Bruno the Bandit is still tons of fun to do, and I have no intentions of quitting any time  soon.

The fine folks running Keenspot are looking at alternate ways to earn money for our sites, and that includes the possibility of more intrusive advertising on our websites.  Note: I said possibility!  Nothing's been decided yet.  All the pros and cons are being weighed, and alternatives discussed.

Yes, I'm referring to those dreaded pop-up banner ads.  Currently, Keenspot does not allow them on our sites (though a few unscrupulous advertisers manage to sneak 'em through anyway), but that may change.  It may have to, if we're to survive.

Now I know many of you hate pop-up ads.  But if they can help Keenspot keep afloat, and allow us cartoonists to earn some money for our content, maybe even to earn a living (and thus let me keep a 6 strip schedule), aren't they worth putting up with?

Of course, at the same time, I'm all too aware of the misuse of pop-up ads.  I mean, I wouldn't want a new pop-up to appear every time you read a comic in my archive.  And some designers unfortunately create pop-ups that, when you close one, 2 or 3 more appear.  I definitely wouldn't want those types of pop-ups on my site.  But one pop-up for every time you visit a cartoonist's website wouldn't be such a hardship... would it?  Just click the little "X" in the upper right corner, and it's gone.  It's a small price to pay for otherwise free content.

Perhaps some of you would stay away from Bruno the Bandit if pop-up ads started appearing regularly.  Maybe a lot of you would.  Of course, I don't want to lose any of you as readers.  But, if I'm not making money, I'm not making money, whether pop-up ads appear on my site or not.  If my strip is not strong enough to make you put up with the minor inconvenience of pop-up ads, then I may not deserve to earn a living at this.  But hey, if drawing Bruno the Bandit as a hobby is my only alternative, well, it beats the heck out of stamp-collecting (apologies to any philatelists out there).