ABOUT TOM THE DANCING BUG
Tom the Dancing Bug is the weekly comic strip by Ruben Bolling that appears in newspapers across North America and on the internet. It takes a sketch-comedy approach to comic strip cartooning, with varying new or recurring characters, formats and even art styles each week.
It started its professional incarnation in 1990 in a small newspaper in New York City, New York Perspectives (now defunct), and Bolling self-syndicated it to many other newspapers until 1997, when the company now known as Andrews McMeel Syndication took on syndication, which it continues to this day.
In its early years, its subject matter was only occasionally political, and it featured such characters as Max & Doug, Charley the Australopithecine, Louis Maltby, Harvey Richards: Lawyer for Children, God-Man, Sam Roland: The Detective Who Dies, and Billy Dare: Boy Adventurer. In 1997, Bolling introduced the popular Super-Fun-Pak Comix format, which simulates a surreal daily comics page.
In the 1990s, the comic strip's readership grew, with a newspaper client list exceeding 100, including leading daily newspapers (such as The Washington Post), and leading alternative newsweeklies (such as The Village Voice). Alternative newspapers were a particularly important part of the comic's distribution and growth, and in the space of eight years, it won five Association of Alternative Newsweekly Best Comic awards.
Tom the Dancing Bug shifted after September, 2001, when Bolling, a New Yorker, felt the urgent need to inject more politics and topical matters into the comic strip's content. New characters of a political bent, like Lucky Ducky and Nate the Neoconservative were introduced, and the comic's political satire became more frequent and increasingly pointed and specific.
As more print newspaper clients (especially alternative newspapers) disappeared or downsized in the late 2000s, early 2010s, the internet became a more important part of the comic's distribution. In that time, Tom the Dancing Bug gained important web clients BoingBoing.net, DailyKos.com and GoComics.com, which dramatically increased the size and enthusiasm of its readership. In 2012, Bolling launched the "Inner Hive," an email subscription club that emails members each week's comic before it's published on the web, plus other exclusive content, commentary, comics and benefits.
Bolling conceived the social satire feature "Chagrin Falls" in 2013, in which the Smythe family grapples with their increasingly marginalized middle class American lives. One of these installments was the 2014 Gold Medal Winner for the Society of Illustrators Comic Strip Awards.
But in 2016, Tom the Dancing Bug took an even sharper political turn when Bolling recognized that Donald Trump represented the political phenomenon of his lifetime, and devoted much of the comic strip to the campaign, which carried over (to Bolling’s chagrin) to Trump’s election and administration.
This did, however, lead to greater recognition of Tom the Dancing Bug, including a 2017 Herblock Prize and a 2018 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. Ruben Bolling was a 2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist.
TO JOIN TOM THE DANCING BUG’S “INNER HIVE,” GO TO tomthedancingbug.com