Recently a cartoonist bulletin board discussion resurfaced about Scott Kurtz and his plan to give PVP away to newspapers.

When this thing first reared its ugly head a few months ago, I was one of the cartoonists concerned (OK, kinda pissed) about the ramifications of this sort of thing.

My position was this — PVP is a good strip and editors should be paying a good rate for it. I thought Scott was selling (or, more accurately, not selling) himself and the industry short.

Well, some time later, it doesn’t look like this thing has really taken off and some cartoonists are about waist deep in their own schadenfreude. So why aren’t I?

I recently took a beating on the same board for my new free daily cartoon feature. I was accused of destroying markets, incomes, the industry as a whole…

I thought (and think) it’s a good idea, and I’m going to continue trying it out. And I have to assume Scott thought/thinks the same thing for his plan. In fact, I think the “next big cartooning thing” is still out there waiting for some plucky cartoonist to cast aside convention and try something outrageous.

So get to the point you say?

Hey, Scott — sorry, man. I was wrong. Thanks for giving it a shot. Hope your next thing works out for ya.

Scott Kurtz on Marketplace (Audio!)

There’s an interview with PVP’s Scott Kurtz on NPR in which he discusses with Dennis Nishi his plan of giving the comic away to any publication that will take it.

Scott defends this by explaining that the strip is simply a means to sell advertising on his site, books, and other “hard goods.” The publications that print PVP are required to also show the URL for the strip.

“The art is the art, and business is business. And don’t let the art aspect of it convince you that you should feel guilty about making as much of a living as you can. You gotta support yourself.”

Why exactly would I feel guilty about selling my cartoons? Without tooting my own horn, I’d say I do a fair amount of business with my humor, and I’ve never lost any sleep over it. Who exactly is out there hunched over a pile of cartoons wringing their hands berating themselves over the possibility of profit?

Here’s the thing… If you have to give your art away (and, frankly, you’re having trouble doing that, according to the report) maybe you need to take another look at what you’re doing.

If I were Kurtz, I’d be worried that the banners that paid the bills came from only one real advertiser as far as I can tell. (Sure, there are some Google ads at the bottom of the page, but, honestly, does anyone even look at those, much less click them?)

I’m not saying Scott doesn’t do great work (I often find PVP funny, and the art is wonderful), but expanding out of a rabidly faithful online niche audience into larger print venues may prove more troublesome that anticipated.

Anyway, check out the interview and let me know whatcha think. I’m sure this isn’t the last any of us will hear about this.

(6:09 PM – OK, checking out PVP later this evening I did notice another ad for Kade’s coffee. I just want to be fair and as accurate as possible.)