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The Ed Stein exit interview

Ed Stein wraps up 31 years at The Rocky Mountain News today. It’s the only daily paper he’s worked for and the only career he wanted to have. The following is a portion of a conversation I had with him this morning.

AG: What stands out in your career?

ES: When you first start out in this business… and this was the only job I ever wanted, you’re so thrilled, but at some point you realize you don’t know what you’re doing. There’s no book you can read. You have to learn it yourself. So what I take away is a career where every day I tried to improve, to get better, to become more precise. It’s 31 years of artistic growth.

AG: What will you miss most?

ES: Having a conversation with the readers everyday. Having the ability to say something new and the readers respond – we have a conversation every day.

I believe in journalism. That’s the great sadness of watching newspapers dying. This country is strong because we have an argument built into the system and that takes place in the press. I’ve been blessed to have had a voice in that argument. That’s what I’m really mourning.

AG: What’s next?

ES: I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve been trying to figure that out in the last few months. I’m hoping to continue to draw cartoons for a living.

AG: You’ve mentioned that all cartoonists are at some level writers. Have you entertained that option, and if so what kind of writing?

ES: Most cartoonists are writers first, artists second. I write science fiction for my own pleasure, but the natural progression for me would be doing corporate communications for a non-profit or something.

AG: You drew Denver Square for 11 years, I’m sure that fit into that community dialog you’ve mentioned.

ES: I miss drawing that strip. If the (Denver) Post wanted to pick it up, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I haven’t spoken to them about it or anything.

AG: Any thought of taking it to a syndicate?

ES: The issue of taking it into syndication is that it’s tied to newspapers. I’m sure newspapers will survive in some form and editorial cartooning with it, but doing a syndicated strip isn’t the best use of my time right now.

Community Comments

#1 Jim Thomas
February/27/2009
@ 2:42 pm

“The issue of taking it into syndication is that it?s tied to newspapers. I?m sure newspapers will survive in some form and editorial cartooning with it, but doing a syndicated strip isn?t the best [use] of my time right now.”

exactly.

#2 Joe Rank
February/27/2009
@ 2:53 pm

Good luck, Ed. A talent like yourself will find or create a new adventure.

Coincidentally…. I realize this is a circumstantial observation; but is it not curious that of all the cartoonists laid off, reduced, bought out, or otherwise eliminated in the past year…that there is not a conservative among them?
Crowson, Duffy, Greenberg, Devericks, Markstein, Carlson, D. Powell, E. Hall, Judge, Stein, Don Wright, ( did I miss any? )…..some decidely “left”, others middle-of-road. NO RW’s.

Is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?

#3 Jeff Darcy
February/27/2009
@ 3:06 pm

Joe-
There was this guy out in LA LA Land who got fired and was kinda conservative. I think his name is Ramirez, although I’ve heard him called many other things. I thinbk he may have won a Pulitzer- Or maybe that was Lester. I dunno, you can google it.

#4 Nick Fechter
February/27/2009
@ 3:08 pm

Such a shame that this great cartoonist lost his job. I hope he finds another one soon.

#5 Clay Jones
February/27/2009
@ 3:17 pm

I posted sketches Drew and Ed did for me at a Colorado Springs convention in 1992. Check out the blog.

#6 Joe Rank
February/27/2009
@ 3:27 pm

“Joe-
There was this guy out in LA LA Land who got fired and was kinda conservative. I think his name is Ramirez” – Jeff Darcy

Yeah, Jeff….but Ramirez was dispatched by the LATimes in November 2005; over three years ago.
He was picked up shortly after by IBD, appropriately.
It is also telling that the LAT chose not to find a replacement.

I’m scratching my head…but are there any others? Or is this the exception that proves the rule?

#7 Ted Rall
February/27/2009
@ 4:04 pm

There aren’t many conservative cartoonists to start with. I don’t suspect an ideological conspiracy.

Ed Stein is a class act. I hope he lands on his feet.

#8 Ed Stein
February/27/2009
@ 4:04 pm

Thanks for the nice comments, guys. I seriously doubt the conspiracy theory about conservatives keeping their jobs and liberals being fired. There’s just more of us libs in the business, and the conservatives generally tend to be at smaller papers, which are suffering less than the big city papers. Ramirez was the exception, and he got axed.

#9 Charles Brubaker
February/27/2009
@ 4:38 pm

Nice interview, Ed.

As far as the “conspiracy”, need I remind you that the most conservative of all cartoonists, Chuck Asay was more or less forced into early retirement a few years back? (I say forced because the announcement of his retirement came the same time the Gazette laid off a bunch of people. Hmmmm…)

#10 Pat Crowley
February/27/2009
@ 5:02 pm

Ed has always been one of the great talents and a real class act in cartooning.

I hope the Post finds a spot for him.

#11 Anne Hambrock
February/27/2009
@ 5:53 pm

Forgive my ignorance here but Ed mentioned the Post. I thought the Rocky and the Post had merged. Is the Rocky closed and the Post still open?

#12 Charles Brubaker
February/27/2009
@ 6:02 pm

From my understanding the Rocky and the Post only shared the same building, equipments, and stuff.

Post is still around, and their editorial cartoonist, Mike Keefe, is still employed there as I type this.

#13 Mike Peterson
February/27/2009
@ 6:03 pm

In a joint operating agreement, the only things merged are on the business side. The point is to preserve two voices in the community and the news operations remain separate and competitive.

#14 Mike Thompson
February/27/2009
@ 7:52 pm

Yes, Ed is indeed a class act. Best of luck to you, Ed.

#15 Dave Barnes
February/28/2009
@ 11:33 am

Very sad.
Ed is a great cartoonist and I will miss both him and the Rocky.

#16 JD Crowe
March/2/2009
@ 4:30 pm

It’s a dark time for bright people, and Ed’s one of the brightest.
I hope your voice isn’t quieted for long, Ed…your fans and friends will be longing to continue the conversation in one form or another.
All the best, my friend.

#17 GABE STEIN
March/2/2009
@ 6:27 pm

This falls under the shameless plug category, but since my father didn’t mention it, and since I’m also his web guy, anyone looking to keep up with Ed or continue the conversation as JD mentioned can do so at his new website: http://edsteinink.com . We’re also doing the blogroll/link exchange thing if anyone’s interested.

Okay. Shameless plug over.

#18 Tammy Sillstrop
March/17/2009
@ 5:34 pm

Gabe,

Thanks for the direction. What is shameless is not having your father’s talent picked up in the competing paper. What were they thinking. Love his AIG view!!!! That’s talent.

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