Some GLC members may not be aware that there exists an official NCS online bulletin board where members across the country and around the world can trade ideas, tips, shop talk, small talk and other assorted information. A companion bulletin board, the Wisenheimer, serves a similar function but with a somewhat broader scope. Both boards are hosted by cartoonist Ted Goff, of the North Central Chapter. I asked Ted a few questions about the boards, and he was gracious to supply the following info.
GLC members are encouraged to give the boards a look, and to join and participate as the spirit moves you. You can access them from our LINKS section, or at the bottom of this page.
You host two boards. What's the difference between the Wisenheimer and the NCS Forum?
Ted Goff: The Wisenheimer bulletin board is open to cartoonists around the world, whether they are members of the NCS or not. I limit participation to working cartoonists. I occasionally invite a very promising amateur to join us, but for the most part the Wisenheimers are professional cartoonists, and illustrators, graphic designers, art directors, and writers who sometimes work as cartoonists. The NCS Forum bulletin board is for NCS members only, and is intended for discussions of NCS plans and policies.
Both boards are password protected and closed to the public. Any NCS member may have a username/password to use on both boards by writing to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Membership on both boards is entirely free.
How did it fall to you to take on the job of managing these boards?
TG: I started the Wisenheimer as a fax-on-demand newsletter in 1994. It was a way for me and a group of magazine cartoonists I knew to trade market information each week. I didn't have an official name for the newsletter -- I tried something different each week. It was the "Cartoonist's Campfire," the "IQ Test $500," the "Fax Paper Inferno," and then one week, "The Weekly Wisenheimer." That name seemed just right.
On April 1, 1996, I used a freeware perl script to launch it as an online bulletin board. I've since learned enough perl to rewrite the entire script to allow uploading images and searching archived messages.
The bulletin board had been online for a few years when Daryl Cagle saw it, and asked if I would be interested in joining the NCS and making the Wisenheimer the official NCS bulletin board. I did, and the Wisenheimer became the NCS bulletin board for a while. However, because so many Wisenheimers were not members of the NCS, it was later decided that a separate bulletin board for NCS members only would be a more appropriate forum for discussing NCS issues.
Currently, 920 cartoonists around the world have access to the Wisenheimer, and 150 are regular participants. The NCS Forum is not as active as the Wisenheimer, but serves to announce and organize upcoming NCS meetings and functions.
What types of exchanges take place on the boards? Any heated discussions? Do any particularly memorable (humorous, weird, important, historic, etc.) discussions leap out in your memory? I guess what I'm getting at is, what is a new visitor liable to encounter, flavor-wise.
TG: I insist that people follow a handful of rules when on the Wisenheimer. Name-calling arguments are not allowed, and people may only upload their own images. I discourage political discussions, but realize that some are inevitable when a specific editorial cartoon is the topic.
I rarely have to intervene, however. I've written the bulletin board script so that anonymous posting is not possible, and since access to the board is limited to working cartoonists, the mood is ordinarily friendly and helpful. I've been told that the Wisenheimer is the best cartooning board on the web.
The discussions on the Wisenheimer vary -- some threads start with a question about the terms in a contract, or a request for help achieving a certain photoshop effect, the announcement of a wedding or a birth, reminders about various trade shows or events, or less specific chit chat.
You mentioned 'limiting participation to working cartoonists' and 'inviting' an amateur. How hands-on are you in the board? It's not really moderated in the strict sense, is it? How time-consuming is it for you? Do you work with it every day? Is it fun?
TG: I follow the board every day, but I don't always participate. It depends on whether I have anything to contribute. The board is not moderated -- but if someone later asks me to remove a message or a graphic, I'm always happy to do it. On rare occasions, if a thread becomes too heated or someone dramatically breaks the rules, I will remove the entire thread. I have kicked a few people off permanently -- after clearly warning them several times. I really dislike having to kick anyone off.
I was surprised to see that there were a number of side features in addition to the basic bulletin boards. Care to mention them?
TG: Each participant on the Wisenheimer has an optional profile page where they can post a few samples of their work, and information about themselves. Their contact information is prominently displayed for other cartoonists who may wish to refer them for various projects. (I sometimes hear from clients looking for kinds of work that I do not do, and I'm happy to search the profiles and refer a few cartoonists who do.)
There is a "Cartoon of the Week" contest that is purely for fun -- anyone can post a cartoon for consideration, and the winner is chosen by votes emailed to our Cartoon of the Week Czar, Geoff Hassing. Cartoon entries are sometimes the starting point for lengthy discussions on technique, current events, personal experiences and off the wall ideas.
The Wisenheimer also has a gagwriter directory, and links to various cartoonists directories. Besides being a venue for discussions of marketing, software, contracts and personal and industry news, the Wisenheimer is also a way to stay in touch with a wide ranging group of freelancers. Some cartoonists rarely have a chance to meet and discuss cartooning with other cartoonists -- the Wisenheimer brings a huge group of cartoonists right to your studio.
How 'bout a little info about yourself and your own work?
TG: I draw single panel cartoons for business publications and presentations. I've been freelancing for 24 years. You can see my work on my website: www.tedgoff.com.
Anything else we should know that I haven't touched on?
TG: Reubens weekends are much more fun when you know 50 people from the Wisenheimer. You'll never find yourself in a roomful of strangers again!
THE NCS FORUM: http://www.ncsbb.com
THE WISENHEIMER : http://www.thewisenheimer.com
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