Former Disney Cartoonist Goes to the 'Dogs,' Seeks Newspaper Clients

By: Elaine Williams Bruce Kasanoff and former Disney cartoonist Jim George are both dog owners and dog lovers, so it is no surprise that they have recently started an online cartoon about the ups and downs of dog ownership, "Draw the Dog."

Creating ?Draw the Dog? was not a planned move for Kasanoff and George. The two were -- and still are -- working on an ?elaborate book project? about dogs that included full-color drawings that sometimes took nearly two weeks to complete. The slow pace of the project was frustrating both of them, said Kasanoff.

?Jim woke up one morning and had an idea to do quick black-and-white cartoons about dogs to blow off steam,? said Kasanoff, who handles the cartoon's Web site and promotion. ?I had the idea to have people submit stories.?

Each cartoon, which takes George a few hours to complete, is based on a story submitted by an online reader about his or her dog. A sampling of the cartoons range from one about two Great Danes who managed to open a second-story window and end up on the roof -- requiring the fire department to get down -- to a Border Collie who kept switching its owner?s lights on and off using a remote light switch.

The cartoons are also unique in that on the Web site, they appear to draw themselves on the screen, with each additional line filling in the picture and resolving into a complete cartoon.

News of their fledgling cartoon site spread through word of mouth across dog forums and Web sites and now, just six weeks after its launch, the Web site has attracted visitors from 47 countries and has nearly 100 submissions per week.

The next step for the pair is to get their cartoons published in newspapers. They have offered to allow newspapers to publish one cartoon per week for free, in the hopes of reaching more readers and giving newspapers the opportunity to publish quality content gratis.

?It?s a win-win,? said Kasanoff. ?People who come online and look every day will still come online, newspapers will get to publish it for free, and it?s a way to extend the cartoon.?

Kasanoff has high hopes for ?Draw the Dog,? even in an era where many newspapers are shrinking or eliminating their comics.

?I wouldn?t ignore the free aspect,? he said, adding, ?People do not feel strongly about most comic strips, but people really care about dogs. The appeal here isn?t another comic strip, it?s dogs.?

Kasanoff, who has a day job as an independent speaker, consultant and writer, says that though no newspapers have officially committed to running the cartoon, many have expressed interest when presented with the idea.

Still, though, Kasanoff isn?t too worried about the future of ?Draw the Dog.?

?We don?t really care if we get 20 or 100 papers,? he said. ?It?s just fun, and we happen to be into something that lots of people care about.?


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