Thursday, September 10, 2009
Obscurity of the Day: Drawing a Crowd
Benita Epstein is not the sort of cartoonist that you would figure to merit an Obscurity of the Day posting. Her gag cartoons have been published in all the major magazines, including many in the New Yorker, and she's been nominated for National Cartoonist Society awards an impressive six times. So we're not talking about a rank amateur getting caught like a deer in the headlines with a newly signed syndication contract. Nevertheless, Epstein's feature, Drawing a Crowd, came and went in just a year and a half.
I could make the case that Epstein chose to do panel gags. Those are a tough sell to newspapers, and even once they do sell editors looking to shake things up know that dropping gag panels is the easiest path to take. Rarely do readers get so firmly attached to them that they put up much of a squawk (unless it's Family Circus, and then, brother editor, prepare for death threats).
No, I have to be honest here and say that what I saw of Drawing a Crowd (and it wasn't all that much, so take this with a grain of salt) was generally not prime Epstein material. Visit her website where you'll find her A-game, which is fantastic stuff. So here's the multiple choice quiz:
Why Drawing a Crowd just wasn't all that funny:
(a) she found that producing seven good gags a week was more than she could handle
(b) she saved the best gags for her magazine work, the B material went to Drawing a Crowd
(c) she made so little off the syndicated panel that she gave 'em exactly what they were paying for
(d) little bit of all of the above.
Drawing a Crowd ran from February 17 2002 to August 25 2002 as a Sunday and August 18 2002 to May 3 2003 as a daily. These dates are based on the material posted on the Creators website at the time, but Epstein says she did the feature from January 2002 to June 2003, so perhaps they left out some. Anyone have definitive dates?
After shunning syndication for 6 years Epstein is taking the plunge again, this time with a much more forgiving once-a-week schedule. She is now one of the Six Chix, taking over Kathryn LeMieux's spot.
Nothing special. I can see why newspapers didn't bother with it.