Why I Am, And Am Not On Facebook

I’m Talking To YOU, Friend, Reader! It’s about time I addressed my Facebook mess. Yes, it’s a mess. You don’t see it, and that’s part of the problem. What’s worse is that finding a way out of the mess is not worth the time and effort, and so it will remain a mess.

I’m talking now to people — readers!— who have, over the years, made requests to be my “friend.” I apologize for not getting back to you, and for leaving much of what happens on my Facebook account in limbo. If you’re interested in the reason behind my FB mess, please read on. Maybe I’ll find a friend who has had a similar experience.

Can Anyone Out There Relate? Several years ago, I opened an account on Facebook because everyone had told me that, as a visual artist, it was beneficial to have one. It was to be for comics-related/self-promotional purposes only (I would not willingly be on Facebook if it was not for my cartooning career).

I began getting friend-requests from people who know my comic strip, but don’t know me personally. I thought the idea was to say yes to everyone— that was the point, right? So I did. As a result, my Facebook friend list expanded, but it was predominantly made up of strangers. I felt uncomfortable posting/commenting on a forum where strangers mingled with friends and family; where my professional public life suddenly intertwined with my private interactions. It felt wrong. Should my personal engagements with, say, my cousin, be made available to people I’ve never met?

The solution, some colleagues advised, was to have a separate “fan” page, just for readers. Great! I opened up a fan page. I named the page— which would encompass all of my work— “Cartoons by Rina Piccolo.” To simplify things, I would have liked to dump my personal account, and keep only my fan page— but that was not an option. Facebook did not allow me to have a fan page without also having a personal account, and so I was forced to keep both. The result? I had to post everything twice (there were still readers on my personal page). When you’re pressed for time, that could be a bit of a nuisance, but there was no alternative.

Some People Are Nutty The real trouble started when I tried to re-direct friend requests from my personal account to my fan page. Hey, I said, We can connect on my fan page! People didn’t like that. One guy—a total stranger— said he was insulted that I didn’t accept his friend request and refused to Like my fan page. In fact, every time I tried to re-direct readers, a great majority of them simply did not comply.

It Gets Messier Fast forward some years. Tina’s Groove was getting re-launched, with a new sales brochure. Some good friends at King Features Syndicate advised me to change the name of my fan page from “Cartoons by Rina Piccolo” to “Tina’s Groove.” That sounded reasonable, and it would make it easier for Tina’s Groove readers to find me on Facebook. However, Facebook did not allow me to do this. There’s a rule about the amount of Likes a page has, and being able to change the name of that page. Well, for all the good it does to someone’s career to have a lot of Likes (that in itself, is up for debate), my Likes, well above the limit, did nothing but make my Facebook experience ridiculously inconvenient.

I was forced to keep the page “Cartoons by Rina Piccolo” and create a new page titled “Tina’s Groove.” Now I had three places to post; three pages to maintain. As for re-directing people from one page to another, well— let’s just say that I felt the burn from the last time I tried that.FBblackHole

I’m Tired And Bored With It All Going on Facebook has became a dizzying haze of too many things to post on too many pages. It is, to me, a seemingly endless barrage of stuff to sift through, and a flood of notifications that are not important, i.e.: the status updates of people I don’t know. You know what? I have to be honest here — I have work to do. I find it hard to justify spending valuable time on something with so few returns. Thanks largely in part to Facebook’s algorithms, my posts, despite my efforts, are seen by about 1% of my readers, and friends.

You’ll ask if I used Facebook’s Help Center. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. Ha Ha Ha! The one thing Facebook makes remarkably clear at their Help Center is that it is a center where users cry HELP!! Forget engaging with a person. Facebook could not manage to give me a dialog box that functioned properly. I wrote out my problem, and clicked “Submit” and it sent me right back to where I started. This happened a number of times before I gave up.

Engaging with Facebook felt as social, and as friendly as spending a night in a Siberian Gulag. I was Alice through the rabbit hole, except that this rabbit hole was littered with the remains of previous users who had come to seek help before me.

Let’s be serious We can all see what Facebook is today. What began as a social network has evolved into an advertising and publicity platform. Have you got money for advertising? Then Facebook is a good place for you. You can buy your views and Likes. (I can buy them too. I get emails from companies that sell Likes by the barrel full. If this purchasing of Likes continues — and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t — it will do nothing more than make Likes completely meaningless in the near future, defeating their original purpose.)

If you’re wondering— yes, I did post a link to this article on Facebook. It will get sent to the Unpopular People Table at the far end of the cafeteria. Seems I didn’t feed the “Boost Post” meter.

So, readers, that’s the reason why I have not responded to your friend requests, and messages. It’s because I am, and am not, on Facebook. If you Liked one or both of my fan pages, I thank you kindly, and appreciate the attention. I will continue to post stuff for what it’s worth. However, I refuse to play Facebook’s Boost Post game.

I’m sorry for not addressing this sooner. But here’s a solution. You can always find me— and I can find you—here at tinasgroove.com, and at rinapiccolo.com . You may also find me on Twitter @RinaPiccolo and, of course, on the friendliest site on the internet for comics fans: comicskingdom.com

(… who knows I may show up in other networks too. There’s a new one out that’s designed for artists, and creative content. I’ll write about it in my next post.)

Please share this. If you’re here, at my home site, I know I’m not invisible to you. Thanks for dropping in :)




Digital vs. Ink — Why Must We Choose?

If you’ve read my previous blogpost, you’ll know that I am now drawing Tina’s Groove (and my Wednesday Six Chix cartoon) on a drawing tablet. Since blogging about it, I’ve gotten a lot of support and praise from readers congratulating me on “making the switch to digital.” Thank you, everyone. Even the nice folks at Wacom— the company that makes the Cintiq Companion tablet— sent me a personal tweet to say, “Nice work!” I got a thrill from that. I love my Cintiq, and I don’t plan on reverting back to paper and ink for the drawing of Tina’s Groove, or Six Chix.



A Surprising Result From Drawing Digitally One late afternoon, after several days of fiddling around with my new drawing toy, I got the biggest craving to do something with ink and paper. I mean, it was the biggest craving. I get cravings to pick up a pen every single day, but rarely a craving this big. I guess that when you’re always drawing with ink and paper, you never have occasion to miss it.

On this one day, I was working away on the tablet when I heard the cries. My real brush, the tub of ink in the corner of my desk, and a sheet of Strathmore paper, were calling out to me, “Rina,” they said, “Who’s this new kid in town? Don’t you wanna play with us anymore?”

I felt bad for them.

Truth is, I did want to play with them; but I was distracted by wanting to get to know the “new kid.”

As it happened, after a day of “inking” on the tablet, I grabbed a good brush, settled in with some good podcasts, and inked a six panel comic I had pencilled for the book I’m working on. It felt good. Like seeing a close friend I’d been away from for too long.

I’ve heard cartoonist friends of mine say that, sometimes, they just want the feel of paper. I know– me, too. But why do we look at that as a problem?

So I ask Why must we choose? Why do I get the sense that people think that an artist must be “digital”, or “old fashioned” — either one, or the other? Why can’t we choose to do our best work with the finest tools available out there— regardless of whether they’re digital, or not?

To Sum Up I am married to India ink, but I’m having an affair with a tablet. And guess what— they’re both okay with it, and so am I.

Thoughts? Cartoonists, illustrators, what do you think? Do you switch mediums for different jobs? Tell me what your experience has been in the comments section below!



Tina Goes Digital!

Hey, readers— have you noticed anything different about this week’s Tina’s Groove? Well, for me, the strips were noticeably different— drawing them, I mean. You see, I drew this week’s six dailies (and the last two Six Chix cartoons) on a drawing tablet— the Cintiq Companion.


What, Me? Switch To Digital? I once insisted that I would never draw on a tablet. I love ink way too much. And I still do —I love ink enough to want to drink the stuff! Okay, maybe not quite that much. But seriously, if I could continue drawing Tina’s Groove and Six Chix on paper, I would. In fact, I continue to use real brushes, pencils, and ink for my other work. The old tools still have their hold on me.

So why a tablet for Tina’s Groove and Six Chix? Two reasons. 1) My eyes 2) Storage space.

My eyes Countless times have I wanted to zoom in on Tina’s face and couldn’t. The characters in Tina’s Groove are so tightly designed that a loose line just doesn’t cut it. I’m far-sighted, and need readers to work, and read, and I really need to zoom in to keep from getting sloppy. You don’t want me to get sloppy, do you?

Often after spending the day pencilling and inking six dailies, I would feel a terrible strain in my eyes and neck. With Six Chix cartoons I fared better. The characters I draw for Six Chix aren’t as structured as Tina and her friends, and so I’m a lot freer in drawing them.

*Message to past-me: (if there is a way to send messages back in time to my 35 year old self) Don’t make the characters so structured, idiot. Do you think your eyes are made of magic?

Storage Space I have thousands of originals, and nowhere to store them. What contributes  most to this conundrum are the strips for Tina’s Groove And Six Chix. These are my ongoing syndicated strips, and so there are bins full of them. Still more are created and added to the stacks every week, every month, year, forever and forever without end.(Okay, almost end.)

My options? Rent a self-storage locker for ninety bucks a month forever, or… get a Cintiq drawing tablet!

After a few weeks of practice, I’ve finally taught myself how to draw naturally digitally. The bonus here is that the tablet is completely portable, and it saves me a lot of time as there is no scanning, and that means more time spent for the actual creative work.

To be honest, I didn’t think I’d find anything special in drawing on a tablet. I really am, at heart, a paper-and-ink girl. But I have to say, I am thrilled at how smoothly the pen nib moves across the “page”— it feels like a liquid line; a wet brush that you never have to stop and dip. The Companion is the best that technology can offer the professional illustrator, painter, or cartoonist. The touch screen is pressure sensitive and it can be treated like a piece of paper: I draw with my right hand, and with my left I can move the page around, pinch to zoom out, spread open to work close. It feels good. I can pencil and ink six Tina’s Groove dailies and feel no physical strain, only fun.  In fact, I’m faster, more efficient, less tired. Which means I have time left over for more drawing!

Next week: How drawing on a tablet made me crave a bath in India ink.