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Local cartoonist bumps Crankshaft; local readers get angry

I enjoyed this article by Stew Rieckman, executive editor of The Northwestern (Oshkosh WI), who related his readership’s response after he gave a local cartoonist a 30 day trial run on the funny pages – more or less to be a nice guy. His readership became verbally abusive when the new strip took Crankshaft’s place.

As we were preparing the comic page for Mark’s debut, I had to decide where his strip would run. I decided, what the heck, let’s give him top position on the page for maximum attention. (Remember, this was the warm and fuzzy Stew at work). On the front page of that day’s publication, we promoted the cartoon and made certain we told readers Crankshaft would be back in a month.

My God, you would think I was having an affair with Blondie. Here’s a sampling of the reaction that “nice” gets me.

From T.M.: ” …This evidently took an ‘executive’ decision â?? no lesser editor or other peon there would be so stupid to screw up the ONLY good thing that this paper has going for it, namely the comics page.”

From E.S.: “Other than a small statement that a local person’s comic strip has been added, there wasn’t any other explanation to dropping Crankshaft for April…I feel that you owe your subscribers an explanation and also you owe the subscribers to reinstate Crankshaft immediately.”

From R.K.: “There are only three reasons why someone would want to subscribe to The Northwestern. They are: The obituaries, Dilbert, Crankshaft. During the past three days, I have noticed one of the reasons missing from the local paper.”

Community Comments

#1 josh
April/10/2007
@ 9:40 am

I applaud Mr. Rieckman’s decision. This is exactly what editors should be doing all the time: trying new comics, seeing what sticks. If one editor at a local paper never took a chance, we’d never have heard of The Far Side, and the world would be a sadder place.

People reading this should take a minute to write and thank him for his forward-thinking: srieckman@thenorthwestern.com
If editors only hear the complaints, they’ll never try new comics. No one likes to be yelled at, even in an email.

#2 Charles Brubaker
April/10/2007
@ 10:03 am

I agree.

At least one newspaper is willing to try out local strips – Lowell (MA) Sun. They even had a Sunday strip drawn by a 12 year old for a while.

#3 Mikhaela
April/10/2007
@ 2:48 pm

The Lowell Sun? Really? That’s my hometown paper. Maybe I should give them a call. Hmmm…

#4 Rich
April/11/2007
@ 12:28 am

Good idea Josh … I did so. Hope he gets on a trend and keeps adding.

#5 Bob Conroy
October/28/2008
@ 8:03 pm

As one of those local cartoonists chosen by the Lowell Sun, I am very appreciative for this extremely rare opportunity. I do my best to earn my position. It’s been running since March of 2005.

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