Battle of the Cartoon Papers

I currently subscribe to two different cartoon publications, Comic News Weekly and Funny Times, and I thought it might be interesting to compare the two and help those on limited cartoon budgets get the most for their cartoon dollar.

(Note – I’m going to try to be fair here, but I should note that Funny Times publishes my cartoons on a regular basis. I have never submitted to Comic News Weekly. I’m comparing the November 2004 issue of Funny Times and issue #501 of Comic News Weekly, also published in November 2004. I’ll be presenting the two publications alphabetically.)

Comic News Weekly –

This Oregon based humor weekly bills itself as “Wit, Whimsy and Wide-Mindedness” and includes many of my favorite cartoonists including Gary Trudeau, Berkeley Breathed, Dan Piraro and Tom Tomorrow.

Weighing in at 24 magazine-sized pages this issue boasts 69 cartoons including full pages of Joe Martin’s Mr. Boffo, Piraro’s Bizarro, and Tom the Dancing Bug. The magazine also includes full color pages of Opus and Doonesbury.

Editorial cartoons abound here with full pages dedicated to the NRA, the Florida hurricanes, and Dan Rather’s election news gaffe.

Comic News Weekly also includes humorous writing including Chuck Shepard’s News of the Weird, The Straight Dope by Cecil Adams, and Mr. Cranky at the Movies (my personal favorite).

The magazine does indeed arrive weekly and has a cover price of $2.95. Subscriptions are available at Amazon for $39.00 for a year ($0.78 per issue).

Funny Times

Based in Ohio, Funny Times’ monthly “Humor, Politics & Fun” publication includes such cartoon luminaries as Matt Groening, Ted Rall, David Sipress, P.S. Mueller and Tom Toles.

Printed more in a newspaper format, Funny Times also clocks in at 24 pages, but it should be noted that they’re roughly twice the size as its competitor. I counted 97 cartoons in total with color cartoons on both the front and back covers and large cartoon offerings from Keith Knight, Carol Lay and Alison Bechdel.

The paper includes plenty of great editorial cartoons with the upcoming election given a full four pages.

Funny Times prints loads of humorous writing as well including News of the Weird, Harper’s Index, and Ask Dr. Science.

At $2.95 on the cover, monthly subscriptions are also available at Amazon for $21.00 per year ($1.75 an issue).

Comparison –

OK let’s look at the numbers:

Judging by this issue, Comic News Weekly is averaging 2.875 cartoons per page. Because Funny Times is roughly twice the size, we’re going to say that it’s actually 48 pages for the sake of an even comparison. So, with that logic, Funny Times averages 2.021 cartoons per page.

If we agree that 69 cartoons is about an average issue of Comics News Weekly, that means 3588 cartoons per year at a price of approximately $.01 per cartoon. Funny Times would clock in at 1164 cartoons per year at a price of approximately $.02 per cartoon.

By looking at the numbers, Comic News Weekly has more cartoons per “page,” is about half the cost per cartoon and it arrives weekly. So, by the numbers, Comic News Weekly wins. But judging humor via spreadsheet really doesn’t work in the long run.

If we judge each magazine by how many times they made this cartoonist smirk, giggle and laugh out loud, Funny Times comes out the clear winner. Are the laughs worth twice as much fewer times per year? I think so.

Comic News Weekly feels like its put together by a staff that’s looking to fill its pages with as much stuff as possible. In this issue there were two and a half pages of Doonesbury alone. If you add Opus, Mr. Boffo and Bizarro (all good material mind you), then almost a quarter of the publication is stuff you can get in your paper or online relatively easily.

Funny Times, while running a smattering of syndicated material, feels more like a hand-picked offering by people who really love cartoons. Sometimes the material is odd, obtuse, even confusing, but it always feels like someone at Funny Times said “Oh yeah, this one’s going in for sure.”

Both publications run scads of good editorial material, but, again, Funny Times’ just seems funnier to me. Often I’m showing the editorial cartoons to my wife in bed to watch her gasp at the cartoonists not so much poking fun as stabbing it.

OK, I’m in Funny Times a lot. And I’m not going to pretend that that probably doesn’t enter into this at some unconscious level (I really really tried to be fair!), but I can’t get past the simple fact that, in my cartoon opinion, Funny Times is just plain funnier and a better laugh value for your cartoon dollar.