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The Scott Stantis goes to Chicago interview

Last month it was announced that Scott Stantis would become the editorial cartoonist for The Chicago Tribune, the first cartoonist hired since the death of Jeff MacNelly in 2000. Much thanks to Scott for taking time out to participate in my recent email interview request about his move to the Trib.

Alan Gardner: How did this opportunity come about? I wasn’t aware that the Trib was actively seeking a cartoonist.

Scott Stantis: Along with several other cartoonists I was interviewed for the job at the 2000 Democratic Convention. Over the years I kept in touch and was contacted to do local and state cartoons for the Trib from time to time. We developed a good working relationship and, obviously, things grew from there.

AG: In light of the current industry, were you given any assurances that this position is a long term commitment by the paper?

SS: Yes. That was an issue of great importance to me, of course.

AG: The Tribune has had a remarkable history of legendary cartoonists. What kind of pressure do you feel stepping into this position?

SS: The lineage is remarkable, no doubt. I plan to put my head down and draw the very best cartoon I can that day and all of the days to follow. Just like I have been doing for all of these previous years. I will let the legacy take care of itself.

AG: Will your responsibilities at the Tribune include animation, blogging or other non-traditional cartooning jobs?

SS: One of the most exciting things about this job is the openness of Bruce Dold, editorial pages editor, and Gerry Kern, editor, to new ideas. While animation and blogging are part of the possibilities I have a few ideas that I think are original and will definitely bring eyeballs to the web sight. More on that as we put my ideas to the test.

AG: Will you continue to be syndicated through Creators?

SS: For the time being.

AG: What will you remember most about the time you had with Birmingham News?

SS: What a great place it was to work. The editorial board has some of the most knowledgeable and passionate editorialists I have ever worked with. They were also a lot of fun to be around. The issues involved in the city, county and state were and remain ripe for commentary. Birmingham itself was a great place to raise my kids. Ask some friends I have forced to visit like Matt Davies, Ted Rall or Ed Stein. They will tell you what a surprise this place is. Beautiful and friendly. As you can tell, I will miss it .

AG: The Birmingham News has mentioned that it will fill the cartooning position. Do you know what they will be looking for as far as conservative or liberal leanings?

SS: Right of center would be the best fit but I hear that is not a deal breaker. I know they want someone who will focus on local issues like a laser. Believe me when I say this; a cartoonist could do nothing but local cartoons and never run out of issues to draw about. The political ground is THAT fertile here.

AG: Does your move to the Tribune signal anything about the industry? Do you think more papers will hire cartoonists or is your situation somewhat unique?

SS: I think it will encourage other editors to either not lay-off their cartoonist, (as happened with Matt Davies), or to fill the positions. The requirements may be different then they were, say, ten years ago, (less interest in national prescience, stronger emphasis on local issues), but I am hopeful that this signals a new Renaissance for editorial cartooning. If it does, that, to my mind, would be the sweetest legacy I could have.

Community Comments

#1 John Carswell
September/9/2009
@ 8:46 am

In his cartoon strip, Prickly City, Scott reveals himself as more of a conservative. Does going to the Trib mean they will expect a more liberal slant?

#2 Ted Rall
September/9/2009
@ 9:40 am

Scott has established himself as a thinking man’s conservative. He considers himself a traditional libertarian, someone who admires figures like Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. While remaining true to his right-of-center leanings, he is also skeptical about the war against Iraq, for example…although that’s something it took time for him to come around to.

I’ve gotten to know Scott and consider him a very good friend. One interest we share is a love of history and the lessons it teaches us for present circumstances. Scott’s historical knowledge is a big part of what makes him a great cartoonist and intelligent person.

I seriously couldn’t be happier about the Tribune’s choice.

#3 Charles Brubaker
September/9/2009
@ 10:54 am

What Ted said.

Here’s hoping Scott will have long years ahead of him at Tribune.

My University’s library gets Chicago Tribune, so I’ll get to see his cartoons in print.

#4 Clay Jones
September/9/2009
@ 11:08 am

Scott’s probably the only conservative who criticized the Bush administration.
A good cartoonist, right or left, should be able to critique, satire and disagree with whoever is in power at the moment.

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