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Non Sequitur cartoon creates stir among editorial cartoonists

Yesterday’s Non Sequitur appears to have pushed some buttons for many editorial cartoonists. Wiley Miller, a former staff editorial cartoonist used his comic feature to lay blame at the feet of syndicated editorial cartoonists as the causing the decline in the number of staff positions.

The cartoon in question depicts and editor asking why he should hire a cartoonist (and pay the salary and benefits) when he can get it so cheaply through syndication. The assistant is asked to go out and query the cartoonists who have gathered in protest. She returns to report that, “they just mooned me, then ran off giggling to the nearest bar and started drawing on cocktail napkins.”

Dave Astor at E&P contacted AAEC President Rob Rogers (who’s cartoons are syndicated through United Features) for a comment:

I understand Wiley’s point. But it isn’t as simple as asking all editorial cartoonists to give up syndication. That’s like saying a person doesn’t really care about the environment until they give up their car. I am sure Wiley cares about the environment AND still drives a car. Our ‘Black Ink Monday’ protest was the equivalent of driving a hybrid car. It certainly wasn’t going to solve the problem but it was a small way we could do our part for the cause.

“We don’t have any collective bargaining power. There is no editorial cartoonists union. The AAEC is a professional organization that holds annual conventions to talk about the industry and, yes, to gather in bars to draw on napkins (that part he had right). … Even if we asked everyone in our group to give up syndication, there would still be enough non-AAEC cartoonists out there to fill the editorial pages. The point of our protest was to emphasize the importance of having a local cartoonist covering local issues, something no syndicate can provide.

Community Comments

#1 Cindermain
February/5/2007
@ 12:32 pm

Ouch.

#2 Rick Stromoski
February/5/2007
@ 1:13 pm

This is nothing new. There have been similiar assaults on cartoonists and the NCS to change the comics pages by adopting some nebulous collective bargaining strategy that is always left undefined but always ends in a snarky charge of not doing enough and “heading to the bar” or playing a round of golf.

Wiley is the sort of fellow who will start a fight in a pub and then stand outside and watch through the window.

#3 Garey Mckee
February/8/2007
@ 8:10 pm

Wiley Miller is one of my favorite cartoonists working today. His strip is probably the first to ever float successfully between the daily strip format and the editorial cartoon, and in that way it’s ground breaking material. (Plus I like him because he was kind enough to answer a letter I wrote.)

But I have to be honest, in my opinion, cartoonists writing about the industry seems kind of self serving to me, and in general makes for bad cartooning. If for the only reason that the majority of the general public isn’t going to care about it or understand it.

#4 Daryl Cagle
February/12/2007
@ 7:49 pm

Let he who is without syndication cast the first stone.

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