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Editorial cartoonist ranks drop by 29 in 3 years

With the announcement of Jim Lange’s retirement and Chip Bok’s buy out this week, I’ve compiled a list of editorial cartoonists who have left the print medium in the last three years that this blog has been operating. I did not count those who left a print job for another print job. With the exception of Tulsa World, none of the newspapers below have replaced their lost cartoonist.

Here is the list and circumstances of their departure:

2008

  • Jim Lange, Oklahoman, Involuntary “early” retirement
  • Chip Bok, Akron Plain Dealer – Voluntary Buy Out
  • Peter Dunlap-Shohl, The Anchorage Daily News – Voluntary Buy Out
  • Jim Borgman, Cincinatti Enquirer – Voluntary Buy Out
  • Don Wright, Palm Beach Post – Buy Out/retirement
  • Stuart Carlson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, – Forced Buy Out
  • Dwane Powell, The News Observer, Voluntarily leaves instead of taking forced part-time status
  • Sandy Huffaker, Syndicated, Retires from syndication
  • M.e. Cohen, freelance, No longer freelancing due to medical reasons
  • Richard Crowson, Wichita Eagle, Laid Off
  • Dick Adair, The Honolulu Advertiser, Laid Off
  • Ann Telnaes, Syndicated – Moves to animation, ends print syndication
  • David Catrow, Springfield News-Sun, Voluntarily left for other work
  • Jake Fuller, Gainesville Sun, Laid Off
  • Dave Granlund, MetroWest Daily News – Laid Off
  • Paul Combs – Leaves syndication

2007

  • Aaron Taylor, Daily Herald, Voluntary for other professional pursuits
  • John Kilbourn, Park Record, Resigns after plagiarism claim
  • Leo Garza, San Antonio Express-News, Nacho Guarache cartoonist
  • Doug Marlette, Tulsa World, Killed in auto accident
  • Chuck Asay, The Gazette, Retires

2006

  • Scott Nychay, Northwest Herald, Involuntary
  • Paul Combs, Tampa Tribune, Voluntary for other professional pursuits
  • Larry Wright, Detroit News, Buy Out
  • Tim Menees, Post Gazette, Laid Off
  • Vaughn Larson, The Review , Called up to Serve in Iraq War
  • Stacy Curtis, Times of Northwest Indiana, Laid Off
  • Clyde Peterson, Houston Chronicle, Retired

2005 (after October)

  • J.P. Trostle, The Herald-Sun, Leaves Volutarily
  • Kevin Kallaugher, Baltimore Sun, Buy Out

If I’m missing a cartoonist, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

It is often cited that there are 75-80 staff cartoonist working in the United States. Is it about time to update that statistic to something more realistic, like 50-60 left?

UPDATE: KAL reminded me in the comments that he and Mike Ramirez were laid off from their papers in 2005. Ramirez ended up at the Investors Business Daily, so the print loss is a wash, but I do need to increment the loss number by one.

Community Comments

#1 Steve Greenberg
October/13/2008
@ 10:46 am

The Houston Chronicle replaced its retiring cartoonist with Nick Anderson from Louisville. But I’m not aware that Louisville ever replaced Anderson.

#2 Phil Hands
October/13/2008
@ 10:59 am

I could be wrong, but I believe Vaughn Larson is still drawing for the Review since his return from Iraq.

#3 Clay Jones
October/13/2008
@ 11:41 am

If we’re counting paid-staff positions at newspapers, about 8 of these shouldn’t count. But it’s still a huge number.

#4 Paul Fell
October/13/2008
@ 11:47 am

I have proposed from time to time that the AAEC should do like they did with the WWI survivors… purchase an expensive bottle of cognac, and the last man left gets to keep it. Only problem with we editorial cartoonists is that the cognac probably won’t have much time to age before we reach the last staff editorial cartoonist.

#5 Jeff Parker
October/13/2008
@ 12:25 pm

Paul-

So who’s going to keep that bottle of cognac? I don’t know any editorial cartoonist I’d trust where alcohol is concerned.

#6 Jeff Kersten
October/13/2008
@ 12:28 pm

Alan, I believe in the 8/21/08 Dubuque Telegraph Herald article you wrote about the Dubuque Museum of Art gallery show of Dick Locher’s editorial cartoons and politically-inspired sculptures, DL mentions (I believe this is the FIRST time, publicly) his impending retirement from editorial work.

I’ll gladly notify you if I’m able to get more specific details from him in the interim.

#7 John Cole
October/13/2008
@ 12:41 pm

Louisville never re-hired, and instead has three or four local guys who draw about state/local topics on a rotating basis. Some of their stuff isn’t half-bad, although none of it matches Nick’s or Hugh Haynie’s work.

#8 Steve Greenberg
October/13/2008
@ 3:00 pm

There are newspapers that love their editorial cartoonists and will probably keep those guys as long as they’re still drawing, folks like Luckovich in Atlanta, Horsey in Seattle, Matt Davies and Walt Handlesman around New York and some others. Some political towns like Sacramento or Albany might also keep a cartoonist forever. Our numbers may continue to decline, but won’t disappear entirely in print for the foreseeable future. The increasing number of guys who’ve lost their jobs are now rely on syndication only might increase, and nobody will make much money from this.

#9 Ted Rall
October/13/2008
@ 4:11 pm

OK, so that’s half the picture.
How about a list of all the new editorial cartoonists? My “Attitude” anthologies cover at least 20 artists who began drawing editorial cartoons after 2001, and I know there are others.

#10 bill jones
October/13/2008
@ 4:51 pm

i count 90 working newspaper staff editorial cartoonists. that doesn’t include weeklies. i am sure i missed one or two.

there are 73 in cagle’s index list alone. and there are quite a few, like toles, who are not in that list.

i must admit though i counted matson twice.

#11 My Life In a Cube
October/13/2008
@ 4:52 pm

I’ve drawn some freelance cartoons for the Louisville C-J over the past couple years but I don’t foresee them filling the full-time spot Nick left anytime soon.

As far as new editorial cartoonists, I’m guessing many of these aren’t traditional newspaper staff positions. I would be curious what kind of opportunities and income they create for themselves.

#12 Shane Johnson
October/13/2008
@ 4:54 pm

Sorry, previous comment did not auto-fill my first and last name.

#13 Brian Fairrington
October/13/2008
@ 4:55 pm

I agree with Ted on looking at the other side of things. Furthermore, we should put a positive face on the profession and what we offer. We should stay away from “Black Ink Mondays” and other attempts to shed negative light on the current state of the business. There is nothing we can do about it and the constant bitching and moaning does nothing except inject negativity into the mix.

The bottom line is that the readers and public still read and appreciate what we do. Frankly, most are oblivious to the state of the profession as it existed as part of the old newsprint model. Those days are DEAD. Adapt or die.

#14 Daryl Cagle
October/13/2008
@ 5:46 pm

Add Mike Shelton and Gordon Campbell

#15 Rob Tornoe
October/13/2008
@ 7:01 pm

I was just added as a staff cartoonist this year, so that’s something. And I work online, so I hope I have some longevity.

Hopefully…

#16 Rob Tornoe
October/13/2008
@ 7:04 pm

And Re: The Courier-Journal.

They have no desire to fill Nick’s position. I contacted them last year while I was freelancing for the Press of Atlantic City, and even back then before Gannett’s job cuts, they said the weren’t going to fill it.

#17 Kal Kallaugher
October/13/2008
@ 7:21 pm

I think Mike Ramirez and I qualify for the List of Death. We received our buyout offers November 2005. My last day served was January 2006.

#18 JP Trostle
October/14/2008
@ 10:24 am

That “under 100” number we always cite is for full-time staff editorial cartoonists on daily U.S. newspapers. If you take off the freelancers, the syndicate-only, the graphic-designers-who-contribute-an-occasional-cartoon (like myself), then that list above should drop by at least 10 names, possibly more (and Paul Combs is counted twice.)

The AAEC keeps that baseline because that’s all their used to be. It is certainly no longer the norm, or even the majority, and some of us have been talking about leaving it behind with all the other 20th century memes

#19 JP Trostle
October/14/2008
@ 1:56 pm

sorry, that should be “all THERE used to be.”

A final thought on this: on several occasions over the last decade, Cullum Rogers and I attempted to do an exact tally of our profession, but every time we would come up with a total, the terrain would shift. On the heels of Attack of the Political Cartoonists (2004) I wrote the article for Nieman Reports and said “94” for sure … ok, maybe. Then Cullum found a few I had overlooked and said 101 for sure, and immediately after about 6 or 7 guys got canned so we were back to the mid-90s. Again, full-time staff cartoonists who do nothing else.

Later, when I working on the Attitude books with Ted, I tried to figure out the upper limit, i.e., how many people in the U.S. are there who get paid (even if it’s just beer money) to do the occasional editorial cartoon for a publication (even if it’s only weekly or semi-regularly). While I joked it was “233 1/3”, the total I came up with was indeed somewhere between 225 and 250.

Considering this is about the number of staff newspaper cartoonists cited at our modern high water mark circa 1980, the conclusion seems pretty clear: the number of cartoonists drawing political cartoons has remained fairly consistent over time; it is our patrons and support structure that has evaporated.

#20 Ted Rall
October/15/2008
@ 7:43 am

Thanks, Brian. I can assure you that under my watch as AAEC president this year, there will be no more advertising everything that goes wrong in our profession. Papers and magazines can’t be guilted into hiring (or not firing) cartoonists. But some do get the idea to fire (or not hire) cartoonists by reading those whiny articles.

Editorial cartoonists are rock stars. Readers *do* appreciate what we do. If publishers of newspapers and magazines don’t understand that, it’s their loss–in terms of reduced circulation and lost income.

#21 John Read
October/15/2008
@ 6:41 pm

Based entirely on what I’ve read in threads on this site and comments posted on a couple of other sites frequented by editoonists, I have a feeling Ted Rall is going to be good for the AAEC. Just a feeling.

#22 T. Brian Kelly
October/16/2008
@ 8:46 am

I second John Read’s observation. Ted is a leader and that’s what the AAEC needs more than ever.

#23 John Cole
October/16/2008
@ 12:18 pm

Baa-a-a-a-a-a.

#24 Chandra Lundy
August/3/2009
@ 7:24 pm

Looking to find out how much my Hugh Haynie art is worth. Chandralundy@windstream.net

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