Back in the Spring, cartoonist Matthew Meskel (who lives here in the Portland area, too) and I were experimenting with a comic strip. At some point along Swig’s path, we’re going to launch something like it as “Swiggle: the official comic strip of Swig the Social Market.” He’s going to draw it and I and Swig employees will write it (with Matthew’s input, too, of course). It will be based on actual things that are happening within the company.
I thought of it today because I was writing on FriendFeed that I wish websites (and other companies!) could/would hire cartoonists. Somebody had kindly pointed me to editorial cartoons at investors.com, but that’s the online edition of the daily print newspaper Investor’s Business Daily. If any website-only publication or social network has its own dedicated cartoonist, I don’t know about it – unless it’s the owner himself, of course. Like Chris Pirillo writes a gag cartoon for his own site (or at least he was…I’m not sure about the current status of that). If you know examples, please point us to them in the comments.
Of course, it would take something like a TechCrunch to afford its own cartoonist. But I think it would be a great investment. Cartoonists have long proven their ability to attract readers and keep them loyal.
Imagine being a cartoonist going out on location with a company’s CEO, or to industry conventions with the marketing department, and so on. I flew cartoonists Alan Gardner and Keefe Chamberlain to a geek conference in Seattle in August of 2007. They drew editorial-type cartoonists of what was happening on stage. It was an experiment that went over well. They did a great job and we had a fun time.
Here is an example of a gag Matthew and I did about an introductory meeting I had with Marshall Kirkpatrick of Read Write Web. I had had a second mastectomy in March and just got my new prostheses. Nobody I knew had seen them yet. So, yes, I really did ask Marshall this. It’s a true story. He was a great sport. J
I think Microsoft should hire its own cartoonist! And Google. And Facebook. And on and on – for company blogs and newsletters and annual reports and bathroom walls.
If nothing else, doing so will put a human face on the company and make you stay more humble and open to criticism, even if gags are only used internally. There’s nothing like being forced to laugh at yourself to knock down arrogance barriers.
What if the CEO’s of GM and Ford and Chrysler had had good editorial cartoonists following them around and getting feedback from customers these past several years?! Hey, we probably wouldn’t have to be bailing them out now! And that’s no joke.
Cartoons are powerful. They’ve taken down governments. Unless you’re a dictator, you should be using them. Do your company a favor and hire a cartoonist.