The much talked about “Cartoonists of Color Sit In” is underway today. All participating cartoonists are using the same script, originally written by Watch Your Head creator Cory Thomas. You can see their own take on the joke through the links below.
- Watch Your Head
- Herb and Jamaal
- Cafe Con Leche
- Momma’s Boyz
- House Broken
- Tim Jackson
- Keith Knight
Karisue Wyson, manager of marketing, licensing and sales at The Washington Post Writers Group, has posted some revealing stats over on the Writers Group blog regarding just how many newspapers run comics with minority characters.
Using a professional clipping service, we surveyed 1,413 daily newspapers by collecting comics pages on a day in June 2007 to determine the play of 238 comics. The results are as striking as they are disappointing.
The numbers show that newspapers aren’t likely to run strips with minority characters and are even less likely to run more than one strip if they do. In looking at strips that have minority characters or are drawn by minority cartoonists at the time (we surveyed Baldo, Candorville, CafÃ© con Leche, Clear Blue Water, Condorito, Curtis, Herb and Jamaal, Housebroken, Jump Start, La Cucaracha, Maintaining, Mama’s Boyz, The K Chronicles, Watch Your Head, Wee Pals and Working It Out) we found:
* Only 330 (24 percent) newspapers run at least one strip with minority characters/by a cartoonist of color. In other words, 76 percent of newspapers in this country do not have one of the 16 strips we searched for.
* Only 90 (6 percent) newspapers run two or more of these strips. And these 90 were spread over just 26 states.
* In seven states we did not find any of these strips: Arkansas, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Also interesting to note: Only one paper in Oklahoma, two in Kansas and three in Minnesota run such strips.
* Only two papers published four: the Chicago Sun-Times and my own paper, The Washington Post.
The issue of comic selection and race is complicated. Surely the shrinking pool and the talent of the cartoonists play a role in determining if a feature is selected or not, but the numbers cited by Karisue are striking.
UPDATE: Yesterday, Cory and Darrin were on CBS Evening News. Over on Candorville’s site, Darrin has the video and links to other media interviews and stories. Also as noted in the comments, Darrin is using this week’s Candorville to focus on the broader problems of newspapers cutting the comics to save money.