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Village Voice agrees to pay cartoonists

The hubbub over last week’s revelation that The Village Voice asked its cartoonists to provide cartoons for “exposure” and not pay all the while running a color story on “If Cartoons Are So Big, Why Don’t They Pay?” has caused the paper’s editor to issue as statement saying that they will now pay the contributing cartoonists. Here is the full statement:

I wanted to have a big special comics issue, but I had a limited budget. So in a well-meaning effort to make this work, I asked some cartoonists to provide work without compensation. In the last couple of days, it’s been pointed out to me quite clearly that this was not the best way to help out the cartooning industry. The thing is, we’re not a company that expects people to work for free for the exposure. And I’m making this right: I’m paying all of the artists in the special issue.
And hopefully buying them beers and working with them again soon.

Tony Ortega
Editor
The Village Voice

Putting aside whether The Village Voice was wrong to solicit uncompensated work (for an issue that explores why cartoonists aren’t paid well), I personally think if the cartoonists in question were foolish enough to provide work for “exposure” they’ve been handsomely paid and VV owes them nothing more. But it is a nice gesture.

Community Comments

#1 mike peters
April/11/2011
@ 8:58 am

Alan, When ever anyone asked me to do something for free because it’s good for exposure, I told them “you can die from exposure.”

#2 Jeremy Billadeau
April/11/2011
@ 11:12 am

That’s absolutely right, Mike, or at least incarcerated…

#3 Rich Diesslin
April/11/2011
@ 12:17 pm

Good for the VV for correcting the situation and good for this blog and others that pointed out the irony.

#4 Jerry Dowling
April/11/2011
@ 12:20 pm

Do these cartoonists have to declare peanuts as income?

#5 Gerry Mooney
April/11/2011
@ 3:32 pm

Rather than go on a full-scale rant here, let me just make a few points:

The right price for anything is the price both buyer and seller agree on;

Anyone who works for free, or to get someone to like them (i.e., exposure), is not a professional, that person is a hobbyist;

It is extremely therapeutic and character-building to just say no. Don’t agonize over the “exposure”, don’t fret that if you don’t do it some other schmo will get the “exposure”. Just say no. I guarantee you you’ll be surprised how good that feels. Besides, don’t you have something more important to do than work for free?

#6 Scott Metzger
April/11/2011
@ 3:47 pm

Well said, Gerry.

#7 Jeff Darcy
April/12/2011
@ 11:43 am

I got my break doing editorial cartoons for a Cleveland alt weekly
and chain of N.E. Ohio Suburban weeklies. The pay wasn’t enough to stop me from having to drive an airport shuttle bus to
pay the rent.
It was unspoken that the real payoff was
exposure and a workplace to develop my abilities. But they still payed something out respect for and
acknowledgment that it was a profession and professional business. There’s zero justification for what the VV did.

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