Seth Boyes joined the Dickinson County News staff in March of 2017. In his first week at the DCN, he covered a train derailment near Graettinger. The tankers carrying ethanol burst into flames. Seth's photo of the event won first place for Best Breaking News photo at the 2018 Iowa Newspaper Association Convention and Trade Show. Since, Seth has won nearly a dozen awards for writing, photography and multimedia content. Seth graduated from Iowa State University in 2009 with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts. His original cartoons run regularly in the Spencer Daily Reporter and the DCN. Both he and his wife Janet hail from Clear Lake and have come to expect summers to be full of the hustle and bustle of tourists and visitors.
Not too long ago, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the social media platform would be launching a new branding campaign to bring all its various aspects under one umbrella called Meta. The company is calling it the metaverse and, in language so vague it essentially displaced all potential for comprehension, the company said the new metaverse will, "let you share immersive experiences with other people even when you can’t be together — and do things together you couldn’t do in the physical world." There's mention of virtual and augmented reality in the company statement, but no part actually says that's where they're headed. Rather, "what experiences in the metaverse could feel like over the next decade."
But nothing is changing as far as corporate structure, so things are largely staying the same. And the Facebook we all know and have a love/hate relationship with won't be going anywhere. It's apparently just trying on a new look to see if all of us like it. Something I found appropriate for an announcement which came three days ahead of Halloween.
Thus, the Groucho glasses.
Frankly, if VR is where Facebook is indeed heading – which again, isn't necessarily the case – I don't know that it'll be a long-term change. Various VR technologies came on the market a few years ago, and they're still not widely used outside the sparcly populated list of video game titles. Even then, there's still the issue of how one interacts with said technology. The problem with projecting a virtual reality for a real-world user is the real world they're still sitting in – it's got lamps and dogs and shin-smashing kitchen drawers. Solve that issue, and maybe Meta will have a big influence on how we connect over social media.
Until then, I'm pretty sure it'll just be a short-lived Halloween mask in the corporate history – but I've read enough newspaper archives to know I could easily eat my words in the decades to come.
This was one of the fastest if not the fastest editorial cartoons I've drawn for the Dickinson County News. It took me under an hour from sketch to completion...starting at 4 p.m. ... on a Monday. So, suffice it to say, I'm pretty pleased with myself.
I'd meant to get to the idea after reading about the metaverse's announcement, but didn't quite get there. In my first sketch, I had planned to let the Facebook "f" stand alone on a field of white in a cheap Halloween mask (a goalie mask, or a skull or something equally campy) and a classic jack o' lantern candy bucket slung over one of the arms of its crossbar. But those types of masks came with implications I wasn't aiming for, so I considered what sort of mask was more fitting.
I needed something both tacky and humorous – and nothing seemed to fit that description more than the props named for the lead Marx Brother.
It came together quite quickly of course. The Facebook logo isn't a complicated one, and it's not the first time I've rendered it by hand. Using the glasses also provided the opportunity to put Meta's newly debuted logo on the lenses, rather than writing "Meta" across the brow of the goalie mask or on a t-shirt that obscured the "f" itself.
As I got going on it, I decided to steer clear of my typical black outlines, since it would likely have clashed some with the crispness of the big, blue logo. The nose needed to be prominent, and an inked outline would have flattened it some in my opinion. So I relied on dark browns at partial opacity, and I stopped well before approaching the strictly black frame of the glasses.
There was a point toward the end where I had to adjust the placement of the glasses. The mustache was covering a bit too much of the intersection in the "f," which made it just a smidge too hard to recognize from the viewer's perspective. And Facebook's logo should be anything but hard to recognize, especially in this instance – a disguise that worked too well would spoil the joke. Then it was a matter of where to place the focus (left, center, right). I ended up choosing to push the logo to the right, which essentially centered the glasses. It's one of those strange instances in which a work feels balanced when it's really quite heavy on one side. I think in this instance the somewhat muted gradient in the background helped things feel more balanced.
Like I said, this piece took less than an hour. The video recording was a total of about 45 minutes (including a couple breaks when the phone rang here in the news office) and the sketch itself didn't take longer than 10 minutes if that. Overall, I'm just pleased with the simplicity of something that doesn't give up much of its clarity.