We’ve made some changes to the front page of our syndicate site, CagleCartoons.com that will affect our contributing artists. Here is my latest Bloomberg cartoon that I will use an an example below.
The CagleCartoons.com site is the core of our little business. This is where our subscription customers get their cartoons and columns; these are mostly daily, paid-circulation newspapers in the USA who put our content on their editorial pages. (If you only read our blog and Cagle.com you may want to read no further, as this doesn’t affect you. This may be a bit wonky for most readers.)
–The Issues and the Changes
We’re the only syndicate that has their client download site (CagleCartoons.com) available for everyone to see. We’ve been addressing some nagging issues with how we deliver the cartoons on the site. Most editors only look for what is new on the front page of the site and don’t consider older cartoons in our vast database. Often (such as every Thursday) we had too many new cartoons for the front page and cartoons that were loaded early in the day were gone later in the day, pushed out by the newest contributions. Unless an editor visited twice a day, she wouldn’t see all of the new cartoons –and most editors don’t visit every day.
In general, 20% of the cartoons get 80% of the reprints. In other words, editors don’t like 80% of the cartoons, and with all of the cartoons rushing to leave the front page, too many editors complained that they were not seeing enough cartoons they liked.
We encourage our cartoonists to submit black and white versions of their cartoons, because cartoons designed for black and white look better than color cartoons converted to grayscale where some colors come out too dark and cartoons often flatten to a dull gray. The many black and white duplicate versions of the cartoons were taking up front page space that now goes to displaying more color versions of cartoons. The black and white images are now available on the “preview” download pages of the color “parent” cartoon.
We encourage cartoonists to upload their cartoons in a higher resolution than the cartoonists prefer, and we encourage cartoonists to save their work in tiff format, which is not “lossy” like jpg and png formats. (Editors prefer jpg).
Cartoons should be archived in tiff format, so there is no loss to the original. We see our archive as a library and we want to treat the original cartoon files like historical documents that deserve to be preserved without loss –as high resolution tiff files.
We also encourage artists to save their work in CMYK format so their black lines are crispy and the cartoons don’t suffer from bad printing with poor registration. Editors prefer RGB. Until now editors have had to suffer from cartoons in different formats as the unruly herd of cartoonist/cats saved their work in different formats, now editors can download the tiff files as jpg files.
Trump-Friendly, Popular, and the World …
Some time ago, in response to complaints from Trump-supporting editors, we added a section near the top of the page called TRUMP FRIENDLY CARTOONS. This went a long way to dealing with the complaints from red state editors. We recently added a new section called POPULAR CARTOONS that pushed the WORLD CARTOONS section down the page below the fold; the purpose of the new section is to keep the most popular cartoons on the front page longer so editors don’t miss what they want most. The TRUMP FRIENDLY CARTOONS are often among the most popular cartoons with editors. We won’t put the same cartoons in both sections so they won’t be shown twice (or three times) on the front page, so if a TRUMP FRIENDLY cartoon is also a POPULAR CARTOON, it will appear only in the TRUMP FRIENDLY section.
The POPULAR CARTOONS aren’t really “trending” in the internet sense, because readers tend to like different cartoons than editors. In general, editors prefer funny cartoons that don’t express a strong point of view, while readers on the Web respond most to cartoons that pull no punches and reinforce their existing points of view. We still have all kinds of cartoons, strong and soft, left and right, but we’re making it easier for editors to see cartoons they prefer on our site. After all, this site is designed for ease of use by editors. (Cagle.com is designed for readers.)
We love the world cartoonists, but American editors don’t, and these are the least downloaded cartoons by our newspaper subscribers –so we’ve pushed the WORLD CARTOONS down the page –they are still there, and there are just as many of them displayed.
The black and white versions of cartoons are no longer taking up spots on the front page, they are displayed on the preview pages of their accompanying “parent” color versions that editors see when they choose to download cartoons after logging in. Cartoons that exist only as black and white will still appear on the front page.
Preview Page Changes
Clicking on any thumbnail image on the site brings up a “preview page” that looks different for editors who have logged in. An example of what editors see is at the right.
Editors have many options for downloading cartoons, they can download the high resolution images to their device, or email the cartoon to themselves, or to another email address. They can also choose to receive different versions of the cartoons. I upload my cartoons in CMYK tiff format, which is “non-lossy” and best for some kinds of printing. Editors prefer RGB jpg format which is what they are used to getting from photo services like AP. Now editors can download in tiff, jpg and png formats, as CMYK or as RGB if the cartoonist saved her cartoon in CMYK format, as we recommend and as few cartoonists do.
When cartoonists prepare a separate black and white version of a color cartoon, it now appears as a “related variation” only on the preview page for editors to download, rather than with the thumbnails on the front page and in searches. In general, when a black and white version of a cartoon is available, one third of the downloads for the cartoon are for the black and white version.
In the future we may make other variations available to editors on the preview pages, such as foreign language versions or different dimensions that cartoonists may want to do, or such as a taller version or wider version.
Newspaper editors hate when cartoonists use dirty words, but many cartoonists love dirty words which are commonplace on the Web. We’re considering allowing cartoonists to do “dirty word versions” of their cartoons that would be available as variations since there is so much demand for that among the cartoonists. We haven’t quite convinced ourselves do that yet, since most of our subscribers are traditional newspapers. Maybe we will.
We’re also considering adding a feature that will allow editors to select the resolution of the cartoon they download. For now, the resolution of the cartoon is displayed on the preview page. Sometimes we get complaints about cartoons that artists uploaded in low resolution (this is more often a problem with the world cartoonists who have a harder time accepting higher resolution). Unfortunately, it does no good to try to increase the resolution of a low resolution original; this option is only good for resizing cartoons to lower resolutions or dimensions, which would be helpful for Web clients.
Editors can see the resolution on the preview page so they won’t be surprised after downloading the cartoon. There is more demand for higher resolution cartoons now as new devices have higher resolution displays and as better printing processes demand more from cartoon files that are blown up as illustrations.
That’s it for now. More changes will be coming soon!
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