Dwane Powell resigns!

In an article in the LA Times is a mention that long time (33 years) editorial cartoonist Dwane Powell with the News & Observer is no longer a full-time editorial cartoonist, but has been dropped to a part-time position. Additionally, he has been restricted to local issues.

UPDATE: According to Daryl Cagle, Dwayne has resigned today from his position with the Observer and also turned down the freelance job of three local cartoons a week.

32 thoughts on “Dwane Powell resigns!

  1. According to Daryl Cagle’s blog, Dwayne has said to hell with it and declined that lousy, insulting offer, choosing instead to just go with syndication and national issues. Good for him.

  2. Now I don’t want to “start something” but……

    How much do editorial cartoonist make (ballpark)?
    Are Editorial Cartoonist making “a lot” of money? Are they making “management” money, 70K+? Is this “part” of the reason that newspapers are so quick to cut these guys?

    If these guys are making 35-50K, it really makes no sense to fire them. If these guys are knocking down 70-95K then some of these cut backs would make sense from a “corporate” stand point.

    Corporation: Why pay 70-90K + “benny’s” when I can buy syndicated content and not have to deal with benefits and employment laws?

    I’m just baffled. Most places I’ve worked at will fire managers and “higher priced” employees and leave the “cheaper” employees. Then the company gives all the work to the employees who did not get fired.

    Are newspapers letting the graphic art staff do some local cartoons? Are the art departments asked to “picth hit” to create cartoon content once the editorial cartoonist is gone?

    It (firing of cartoonists) just does not make much sense unless editorial cartoonist are paid like managers (70+) for (gasp) just doing cartoons.

    Any “newspaper” folks want to take a stab at this question?

  3. 70K+ would be “really” fair if an editorial cartoonist did limited animation. Do two “static” cartoons and 1 animated (45sec to 1 min) per week.

    The newspapers would easliy be able to “justify” keeping and spending 70K+ on an artist who had the “old skool” and “new skool” cartooning skillset. Plus the newspaper would be doing something…..new and they would be generating content that they could syndicate to affiliates.

    I think adding these new skills would give cartoonists vaild arguments for keeping jobs and justifying good salaries.

    Newspapers, and cartoonists really need to rethink how they use cartooning talent.

    If say the local newspaper in Tula created a popular opinion webcomic that posted on monday and tuesday that would also be shown in the paper on wednesday and thursday, but would have an animataed short on friday that would “run” until the next friday, how would readers/viewers respond? How would advertisers respond?

    What if the content somehow got popular, say like achewood or PBF, I know, I know, that would be hard but what if you got a 1/3 fo that popularity? How would that change the game.

  4. I don’t blame Dwayne either. While I’m all for local cartoons and do plenty of them, I can’t imagine being restricted to local cartoons during any presidential election let alone such an historic one. When I meet folks these days and they find out what I do, the first questions they have are always about Obama,McCain, Hillary….not the local politico. News and Observer readers just lost out.

  5. And with that, the daily editorial cartoon is effectively dead in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

    Man, that sucks.

    (Are we allowed to use “sucks” here?)

  6. Okay J.G. I’ll take a stab at it. Try not to laugh too hard m’kay? I am the sole ad layout and design person at our local bi-weekly newspaper. I also draw editorials sometimes local sometimes national and have even taken a stab a world events. If I wasn’t already employed by the paper I would not be getting printed at all, because they will not pay extra for a local cartoonist. I get a little extra thrown my way, but not much. So yeah, I guess you could say in some cases the art department is doing the drawing.
    By the way, dude! Where are the newspaper people making 35-70k?! Because I’m getting screwed.

  7. I’ve seen your work Beth. You have a very cool looking style.
    Your newspaper needs to have you do more cartooning projects.

    Well, I don’t work at a newspaper, I never have but I’ve worked with people who have worked at major newspapers and they have told me that the range is 70-90K+ for an editorial cartoonist in big to mid tier (top 10 N. American city) cartoonist.

    In one case the person was “pretty tight” with one of the publishers, so I don’t doubt the information.

    These (70-90K+) must be salaries for “grandfathered” editorial cartoonist and not anyone under say, 40.

    I dunno, it just seems that the only “real” reason to cut a job is if that job is too expensive. If the job is “cheap” and productive “corps” tend to keep those folks around.

  8. also wonder if it would be better to be â??let goâ? vs. resigning. If you resign you donâ??t get unemployment.

    I don’t think he would have resigned unless he had employment lined up.

  9. Well Geez, the Prostitutes that sell themselves to the syndicates for a pittance can’t be a problem, CAN THEY?
    I mean, if there are a few getting rich…IF there are legacy heirs ( that cannot draw, or write, or have ANY substance ).
    If a few survive, who cares if thousands perish?

    Newspapers = Corporations = Whoremongers

  10. I was offered about £200 a day, so that’s $400 a day so, about $2,400 a week. What’s that? About $90,000 a year. That’s about £45,000 a years less 10% national insurance so £40,500 and tax at the same rate as a millionaire because it’s over the higher tax threshold so that’s another £16,000 off that figure so I was going to end up with about £25,000 a year, which is $50,000 after tax.

    In the US then, where tax and expenses are lower it would be like making about $70,000 a year. So, you’d expect it to be in that $70 – 90,000 ballpark. So, that looks about right JG.

    I turned it down because relatively, in a day, I could, and I stress ‘could’, make more drawing freelance cartoons and illustrations. It’s a trade-off, you are not going to sell a $700 or $1,000 cartoon every day, but then again you might. You certainly wont if you have to spend every day in the office.

  11. And yes, Gary’s right it’s the same over here. It’s a lot better to get the boot, financially, as unemployment kicks in right away – otherwise you get nothing for six weeks. Then you get a poverty level handout. How’s that for a thouroughly broken welfare state?

    How can any cartoonist resist handing a nasty cartoon to the editor in order to get booted out? Unless of course they are thinking maybe that they were the subject of ‘constructive dismissal’?

  12. It’s a disturbing trend in almost every kind of business. When money is tight, the people who actually drive the business lose their jobs so the company can save thousands, while the people at the top keep on making their annual multi-million dollar bonuses.

  13. I personally know of cartoonists who are well…..well into six figures and I also know of award-winning cartoonists who can’t even give their work away… meaning they aren’t even allowed to subsidize the newspaper.

    Money doesn’t have anything to do with the equation. Money is just the excuse used for getting rid of somebody who rocks the boat. It’s frosting on the cake for the newspaper to rid themselves of somebody who causes them headaches.

    Especially someone who editorializes the most effectively by commenting on local issues.

    The journalistic environment for employing an editorial cartoonist no longer exists. It’s been gone for decades.

    The bottom line is newspapers don’t want to pay a penny to anybody who believes in editorializing via visual images.

  14. All papers aren’t the same, but if you just look at salary -minus syndication income, my guess is cartoonists at major papers are in line with the paper’s columnist,but often rank below. So they aren’t the biggist ticket in the newsroom but often seem to be the first target. I suspect one reason why is the folks who make those decisions come from a writers background. There’s still the attitude “there just cartoons-you get paid for that?” There’s still amazment from writers every time readers revolt over changes in the comic pages. They just don’t get it. Papers will keep two unproductive reporters who have a combined salary more than the cartoonist who out produces them, before they keep the cartoonist. And for the accountants- they just say we can pay $20 bucks a week for the syndicated cartoonist. But some other publisher is paying that syndicated cartoonist salary…so the rest can mooch off him.

  15. Salaries of editorial cartoonists who are on staff are all over the board, depending on region, size of newspaper, policies of the chain and many other factors. There are people who make $40-50K, people who make $70K, “stars” who make six figures and people who do cartoons along with other duties on smaller papers who might make under $30K a year.

  16. NO- syndication did not kill editorial cartooning.

    Syndication is not the cause…. it’s the symptom.


    Dwane is not the loser with his forced resignation.

    The loser is the community and the newspaper which put a hole in the bottom of it’s boat to let the water out.

  17. I work for a small daily as the business/ag/wine editor/reporter. I started out as a weekly cartoonist (which I still do – though I don’t get paid for it anymore). Then I moved up to being a Web editor, copy editor, lifestyle editor, editorial cartoonist (which I also still do to on occasion), map and graphics maker and eventually the biz guy. As more and more cuts are made, raises of any kind are put on hold, and more work is taken on by those left unscathed by the cutbacks. My preference would be to work solely on comic strips and editorial cartoons, but a paycheck is a paycheck (and not much of one).

  18. J.G. Moore asked how much publishers make. I know of a publisher at a paper in Florida not even close to a top ten paper who made over a million a year. As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

  19. “(Are we allowed to use â??sucksâ? here?)”

    “Yes, â??sucksâ? is allowed.”

    But we’re not allowed to say What The Duck here.

  20. I’ve often wondered what the top cartoonists in the business were able to pull down for their salaried positions. All of my cartooning life I’ve wanted to be the editorial cartoonist for a daily paper. Now that I have achieved that precarious position, in a small-to-mid size Gannett paper, I’m mostly grateful for the exposure. The pittance that I receive does little more than pay for the pens and paper that I use; just trying to add one more cartoon a week involves an almost tear-filled meeting with my editor on the terrible straits that the industry is in and how my request could send the whole newsroom into the financial abyss.
    Which is not to say that I don’t enjoy doing what I do, or that I’m denying the state of the newspaper industry. I just wish that the thing I’ve been waiting all of my life to do wasn’t tied to a dying dinosaur shuffling out of the way of the oncoming mammalian Media juggernaut.

  21. “Iâ??ve often wondered what the top cartoonists in the business were able to pull down for their salaried positions.”

    Generally speaking, they’re paid the same as reporters at the paper they work for. Those salaries vary greatly, depending on the size of the newspaper and where its located.

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