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Sacramento Bee hires Jack Ohman as new editorial cartoonist

The Sacramento Bee has announced that it has hired former Oregonian editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman to fill the position left by the untimely death of Rex Babin who died in March of this year.

Jack tells me that the move was a “perfect storm of luck” between an employee buyout offer at the Oregonian and the Bee’s desire to bring him to their paper.

Bee Editorial Page Editor Stuart Leavenworth made the announcement:

A native of Minnesota, Ohman becomes the fourth staff editorial cartoonist at The Bee since the newspaper hired Newton Pratt in 1939. Dennis Renault followed Pratt in 1971, and when Renault retired, he was replaced by our friend and great colleague Rex Babin. Babin, 49, passed away in March of this year after a 15-month struggle with cancer.

While there is no way we will ever forget Rex and his phenomenal work, I know he’d be proud that The Bee is continuing its cartooning tradition at a time when many newspapers are abandoning it.

Babin and Ohman were friends and friendly competitors, both active in the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. I can’t think of a better cartoonist to build on the legacy of Rex Babin.

Jack will start with the Bee on January 1 drawing five cartoons a week – two or three being locally oriented.

His last day with the Oregonian was last Friday.

I’ll post more news about this announcement as more details become available.

Community Comments

#1 Robert Ariail
November/1/2012
@ 6:21 am

Well, that explains a lot. I contacted The Bee’s editor a while after Rex’s untimely death. Never got even the courtesy of a response. Same from Jack. Even when I contacted him to say I was sorry he was stepping down from The Oregonian.

I’m glad Jack landed a new job, but I’m disappointed he didn’t think enough of me to respond to my queries. I guess this is how cutthroat our cartoonist society has become. And folks wonder why I don’t come to the conventions.

As for The Bee’s editorial page editor, S. Leavenworth, you can kiss my ass.

#2 Michael Pohrer
November/1/2012
@ 6:57 am

@ Robert
Yes it’s sad how the whole profession is ending up being a “Dog Eat Dog” situation.

#3 Pete McDonnell
November/1/2012
@ 11:50 am

I’m glad to hear about an editorial cartoonist actually being HIRED somewhere for a change! I like Ohman’s work, he’s good!

#4 Jack Ohman
November/3/2012
@ 2:00 am

@ Mr. Ariail: First of all, this is my first-ever comment on this board. I’d like it to be my last, but I simply cannot let this pass without comment. Second, to my knowledge, I never received an e-mail from you “congratulating” me on my appointment, unless you sent it to my Oregonian e-mail address, which I assume went dark on Friday, October 26. So there’s that. Third, I didn’t respond to your original inquiry about The Bee position DAYS AFTER REX’S DEATH. Not weeks. Days. OK? I’m not in charge of The Bee’s hiring process, and to get an e-mail about what I thought about your chances in succeeding my beloved friend was so craven that I didn’t have the heart to respond. I was so repulsed by this inquiry that I simply wanted to throw up from the lack of grace and tact. So, my conscience is clear on all of your points. But thanks for the congratulations. I’m sure it was utterly sincere. Finally, I called consoling you on your job loss at the time, as you are well aware. I recall a very long conversation immediately after. This is perhaps the most disgusting display of crass vulgarity I have ever personally experienced in my 34 year career. Period. I’m not sure what kind of arrangement you have in Spartanburg, but I doubt this sort of thing would be condoned. Furthermore, on multiple occasions I went to bat for you with my editor, who had died DAYS BEFORE REX, enabling you to keep The Oregonian as a client. Obviously, this was a mistake. As for Mr. Leavenworth, he is a true gentleman and prepared Rex’s last meal on this earth. He is a prince. I am sorry to say that I can no longer say the same about you. Happy to chat about your grievance personally off the message board. I’ll be more than happy to elaborate.

#5 Robert Ariail
November/4/2012
@ 6:30 am

Jack, your comments grossly mischaracterize events and me. I can only hope you are misremembering things. I went to my email sent box to see exactly what I wrote and when: I wrote to you in early April to commend you for the “wonderful and heartfelt” tribute you wrote for your friend Rex. Not one word about or alluding to a job. Period. A week later I wrote to congratulate you(as I have done in the past) when it was announced you had won an award- SDX, I think. Again, no mention of a job or Sacramento. Nothing. The one and only time I wrote you asking for your advice concerning Sacramento was in June- over 9 weeks after Rex’s death on March 30. To be precise, it was 66 days. I’m hoping that in your memory you were conflating the earlier emails with the last one. For the record, my email to Mr. Leavenworth was at the end of April. Looking back, I admit it was too soon and I accept criticism on that count. But it was not craven- my actions were driven by desperation to find a job and the knowledge that other cartoonists were contacting Sacramento, too. In addition, my wife had recently been forced to retire from her 30 year public school teaching position and we have a child going to college next year. As for your comment about my “crass vulgarity” I really don’t know what you’re talking about. I remember our conversation as being convivial. If the conversation turned to my pea-brained former publisher- and it probably did- then I’m sure I did have some colorful words to describe him. This is the SOB who with less than 3 years on the job fired me from my 25 plus year position with the paper. And he would have fired me 6 months earlier but he had to wait (for appearance sake) until my wife was ambulatory again following major surgery to remove her spleen due to Lymphoma. But if my words offended you, I apologize. I’m sorry. Good luck in Sacramento.

#6 Jack Ohman
November/4/2012
@ 7:56 am

Robert– I hate things like this. I do. And, as I said, I was terribly sorry about Fair. It sucks. And you losing your job sucked. As I said. But I felt blindsided in your response. And it was unfair to me. I no longer have access to my email at work. At 66 days, and I have no reason to contradict this number, it still seemed–fresh. You can understand that. You can also understand that my feelings at the time were those of despair, and they still are–six hours, six days, 66 days, 66 years. Thats how I’m going to feel. I guess what was upsetting was this notion that I’m disrespecting you by not somehow responding to your inquiry. Yes, I want all my peers to have good jobs. Yes, I want the profession to thrive. And, yes, I called you. Sincerely. As I have called virtually all of my colleagues who have lost their jobs. In the superheated atmosphere of this environment, where my best buddy had died, and everyone is upset, it seemed and still seems like I got slapped by you in this forum. But, having said that, I return to the point: I don’t want you to feel like I’m gunning for you. I felt gunned for. And this and all other professions are competitive. I have found AAEC as a great way to reduce that competitive atmosphere by stressing what unites us, and should you become active again, you might find it to be supportive rather than a shark tank. Tone is everything. You can’t hip check Stu Leavenworth like that, in particular, and not get a response. It’s not fair to him. He is a sensitive and caring man. Having said that, I’m willing to take it down a notch if you are. Because this kind of stuff is not good for anyone. I now regret even responding. My initial instinct was not to do so. I’m not apologizing, but I’m telling you I’m sorry it came to this. I am willing to reconcile your feelings, if you want, with those I have. Our conversations were convivial. I’d prefer they remain so.

#7 Robert Ariail
November/4/2012
@ 1:32 pm

Thank you, Jack. I agree. Viva conviviality!

#8 Mike Lester
November/5/2012
@ 10:07 am

God, I miss arguing w/ Ted Rall. Comparatively speaking, this was using the wrong tea spoon on Downton Abbey.

Seriously, nice to see reconciliation among peers.

#9 Jeff Darcy
November/5/2012
@ 10:37 am

On Youtube there’s a video of little 4 year girl in tears
asking her mom when the Bronco Ohman vs Mitt Ariail fight
will be over

#10 Rex Truman Jr.
November/5/2012
@ 8:35 pm

Sad to read the dialogue between Ohman and Ariail, but that’s what the newspaper business has become. The lords of print media have turned it into a bloody dog fight. These arrogant d-bags have run the business into the rocks. Idiots like the Newhouses are destroying what little future newspapers have. Look at the debacle in New Orleans and it’s coming to Portland eventually. Ohman got out of there at the right time. Lee, Gatehouse, MediaNews, and Cox Newspapers are just some of the companies that continue to strip their print products of content, yet expect the readers to stick around. Well, they are delusional. Just look at the recent circulation numbers that were released last week. The industry needs to blow these idiots out or the end will be much sooner than expected.

#11 Donald Rex Jr.
November/6/2012
@ 1:48 pm

I don’t have a dog in this fight, but I can see that the huge advertising revenues newspapers used to get from classified ads evaporated over night. Also everything about printing and distributing costs more every day. It seems foolish to call names as budgets cause cuts in content

Cartoonists could best forget about well-paying staff positions at newspapers and instead work to build themselves as a brand, as other artists have had to learn to do. Other topics here give great examples of this, and thinking creatively about these options is more productive than sniveling internet posts and crying in our beer.

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