What The Duck Signed Prints

Concept: 4 out of 5
Execution: 3 out of 5
Yeah, but: This one's personal.

The Long Version: I reviewed What The Duck, the cartoon for photographers, back in June. I'm happy to report that the daily strip by Aaron Johnson remains funny. But this isn't a review of a comic strip, this is about art. Art that happens to be a comic.

For a modest fee, Aaron Johnson will print, personalize, and mail you a strip of your choice. All you need is the number of the strip, which is available in the archives, and a PayPal account. Since eBay is quite reasonably outlawing all forms of payment that it doesn't own, you'll eventually need one of those anyway.

The idea of signed prints is a good one. The doodle is a nice touch, adding a suitable touch of whimsy, and elevates the finished product from an interchangeable inkjet print to a unique work. (But I do have to admit that I wonder about how much the dedication hurts the resale value.) My only real complaint is that the paper used is fairly lightweight; a more substantial grade would have given the print a much better feel. But once the paper gets behind glass, it doesn't matter.

On a value-for-the-money ratio, the print was considerably cheaper than the frame, making this personalized art print an excellent deal. There is also a pay-for-pixels option, which is an affordable way to get a print-at-home image, but it loses the personalization and old-fashioned 'buying something physical' feeling. It's an option I might consider for ones that I like but wouldn't want to frame.

My final thought is the first thing that struck me about the print: it's not a photograph. It's single tones, simple colours, and ink put down on a page. The blank spots are blank, and the black lines are clearly inked on top of them. It really does look like a cartoon. I occasionally believe that an image isn't really a photo until it's a print; maybe the same is true of comics as well.


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