Irrespective of my earlier post in which I said Dan Perkins isn't a journalist, per se, he did make a good point in the NY Times article he was quoted in about blogging: the fact is that blogging itself may or may not be important or useful for the individual qua individual, but it's what ____ _____ calls the flow -- the array of other pages driving traffic to your post -- that makes a blog serve a purpose outside of personal satisfaction.
After a year and a half of blogging, I've started to get both a reputation among colleagues and to get article assignments because of this and my Wi-Fi/802.11b blog. The consistent output of words flows outwards; links flow inwards; I become more Google-ized; I become more credible.
I can see why cartoonists would be and are embracing this. (See not only Perkins's site, but also The Norm, in which the cartoonist is blogging in his character's persona; and my personal favorite, Chris Baldwin's Bruno.) A cartoonist can pick up an several hundred to several thousand dollars per year when they are added by a single paper. An extra few thousand to tens of thousands of readers could be the momentum that convinces someone to write their newspaper or vote in a cartoon contest for new strips to replace Spiderman (the world slowest moving strip: Monday, Spidey wakes up; Friday, he's brushing his teeth).
Bruno's creator, Chris, has scraped together an interesting living through dedicated fans who buy his self-published books, commission artwork, loan him money via Bruno Bonds (repayable with interest) to fund the books, and otherwise buoy his spirits while he creates his masterwork.
I was exchanging email with the creator of Foxtrot, Bill Amend, the other day after I noticed that dub dub dub foxtrot dot com displayed this message: Bill Amend has decided to take FoxTrot.com offline. This was fascinating, because when I interviewed Bill in late 1998 for an article on the Internet's effect on cartoonists, he was excited about the possibilities, but reluctant to get too interactive with his readers. He's in a lot of papers, and it could be risky to open up the floodgates. (The creator of Frank and Ernest, that cheery inoffensive goofy strip that everyone seems to carry - it's sweet - gets hundreds and hundreds of emails.)
Bill's new site is on his own at Mac.com. It's much more personal. He puts his email address up. It's homey. It's like the Web pages of yore. But it's his voice, not his syndicate's. When I asked him why he moved to his own home, he said that the syndicate just can't do things because they're fun. He thought he'd better interact with his loyal fans and give them what they wanted. Now that's the real voice of the Net, isn't it?