Bill Day laid off from Commercial Appeal


Bill Day, who has been at the Memphis Commercial Appeal for the last 10 years has been laid off this afternoon. He will continue his syndicated cartoons through United Media.

“It’s been a wonderful job to work for [Otis Standford, his editor]. He gave me complete freedom. It was wonderful. I loved every minute of it. I can’t believe its over. I love the city, the paper,” Bill said, still very much in shock of the news that came without warning. He was asked to have his office cleaned out in an hour, but after protesting that it would take much longer than that to clear out his work, they gave him the rest of the afternoon.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I have a mortgage and kids. I guess I’ll just have to see what happens next,” he said regarding what he might do next.

33 thoughts on “Bill Day laid off from Commercial Appeal

  1. Wow, this is MY paper.

    I talked to him on the phone once, and by accident, too. About a year ago I called the Commercial Appeal asking if I could talk to whoever’s in charge of the comics section. The receptionist forwarded my call to Bill Day. Apparently it was common for the staff to mistakingly assume that the cartoonist was in charge of the comics.

    I had a nice chat with him anyway. A nice guy.

  2. What on earth? Give the guy an hour to clean things out when he’s been there for 10 years?

    I lived in Memphis for many years growing up, and remember reading comics in the Commercial Appeal as a kid. Sad to see them act like that with someone who’s been there so long.

  3. Sad, and outrageous. Giving the guy no warning, axing his job, then telling him to clear out in an hour, despite many years of service. Utterly classless.

    E.W. Scripps is the company that laid off two cartoonists at once when they closed the Rocky Mountain News, and which laid me off in November.

  4. What a class act Bill Day is. The readers in Memphis will miss his work. So hard to believe the acceleration of job cuts to our art form in just a short time frame.

    Somehow, someway, this has to stop. Cartoonists still sell papers.
    They still have an audience. When will the industry see that?

  5. Another sad day redux.

    Bill, since God isn’t a mythical Norseman to me, I’m praying for you and your family. As for myself, I’ve been furloughed to 4 days/week and preparing for the afterlife. As they say in Missouri, it might be time to shoot the mule and run for congress.

  6. If there are any editorial cartoonists remaining who think it can’t happen to them, I’m betting hearing that Bill Day (a genuine nice guy and class act who draws as well as anyone in the field) can be treated so brutally causes them to seriously wonder how much longer they have. Given what’s happened in the past year, clueless newspaper publishers have gutted print editorial cartooning and hastened their own demise.

  7. Ditto Tom and John. Really nice of them to give him the whole afternoon to get his stuff together (like 20 minutes for each year of service … wow). Hope he had his art at home so that issue doesn’t repeat. Sad to see papers cleaning out the real local talent that may be the only thing can save them in the long run. Shooting themselves in the foot perhaps.

    Of course given a few weeks to exit in a classy and respectable manner is way too risky. Think of the damage they could do to the paper … spill ink everywhere, post caricatures of the boss in the bathrooms, maybe talk to other people at the paper … it would be terrible! Take paper clips. Man.

  8. These idiots who have run newspapers right straight into the ground deserve every bad thing that happens to them.

    You can sure tell that “business” types run papers these days, and not newspaper people as evidenced by the way they treat employees as disposable parts that have no feelings. If I had a child majoring in journalism, I would cut off my financial support until he/she had the sense to change majors that would offer a career with a future.

    I look forward to a day without these soulless rag merchants.

  9. In three weeks 4 United Media cartoonists lose their jobs (Ed Stein, Drew Litton, Robert Ariail and Bill Day) and all of them will continue to draw just for syndication.

    We’ll see as many editorial cartoonists, drawing as many cartoons as ever – as a hobby, not as a real job.

  10. I think it’s clear by now that most so called newspapers are also nothing more than a slightly eccentric hobby. At least that’s how it appears by the way they’re run.

  11. Has it occurred to anyone that perhaps, just perhaps, those soulless corporations and eccentric media moguls who have bought newspapers over the years, consolidated them to death, squeezed them dry of profits, and are just now tossing them on the trash heap NEVER considered them necessary…. or even important enough to save, the free exchange of ideas, the fourth estate, blah, blah, blah, notwithstanding?…

    I am reminded of an image of Henry Potter the nasty banker picking up the phone after making a momentous decision that he is about to put into action, saying derisively”…the Bailey family (put any editorial cartoonist name in place of Bailey family) has been a boil on my neck (butt) long enough!”….

    They’re not stupid. They don’t like losing money, they don’t have to lose money, and they’re not going to lose money. They are simply cutting their losses.

    If they could not care less about 150 years of news history, ethical labor standards, editorial policy, and even the basic role of a newspaper (or an informed population) plays in the democratic process, they sure don’t care beans about a lone inky cartoonist scribbler, no matter how long he has been employed there, no matter how good.

    They are using this financial storm as an excuse to do what they have probably wanted to do all along, once all the money was drained from the industry. The development of the internet just helped it happen quicker.

    Just my two cents. Hiya Milt!

  12. “those soulless corporations and eccentric media moguls who have bought newspapers over the years, consolidated them to death, squeezed them dry of profits, and are just now tossing them on the trash heap NEVER considered them necessaryâ?¦. or even important enough to save…”

    Gee, ya think? This has been an ongoing operation since the early 80’s, where corporate entities went from city to city buying up newspapers just to kill them. Newspapers only exacerbated things by entering into JOA’s. So it started off as a gradual homicide and is ending with suicide.

  13. That’s what I mean. It’s not stupidity. It’s a business plan. And editors need not apply either. They are not the natural adversaries most cartoonists think they are. They’re just a little bit further from the water in the life boat line.

    And there is no life boat. At the moment.

    That said, a job drawing cartoons that paid for a mortgage and a family and a life was a great deal, wherever and whenever it occurred. That those jobs are disappearing or are no longer available is kind of sad, but not really that surprising. It was great while it lasted…which sentiment I think, in time, will apply to all comic strips too, even popular syndicated ones.

  14. Paul, they ran them into the ground on purpose once all cash was gone. Cartoonists and journalists were just along for the ride standing in the galley kitchen in back of the plane, some toasting the good old days at the bar cart while some spent their time griping and grimacing as the loud whooshing sound led some to look out the window.

  15. Anybody have Day’s email (not the one associated with the paper)?

    The soulless corporations have certainly done damage, but what’s really killing us is the internet.

  16. “Thatâ??s what I mean. Itâ??s not stupidity. Itâ??s a business plan. ”

    Absolutely. This was the plan borne from Watergate scandal that brought down Nixon and almost tanked the Republican party. Instead of fighting a free press from the outside, the corporations decided to buy them and kill them from the inside. And it’s not just newspapers. It was even easier for them to buy up electronic media and destroy the news divisions by changing the long established ethics of keeping the business end of the networks out of the news departments. The news departments for all the networks always operated at a loss and were supported by the entertainment divisions. That all changed when the corporate mentality took over and insisted that the news divisions had to show a profit.

    It’s all a very sad state of affairs in a supposedly free society. If you want to get real news about what’s happening in our country, you have to get it from European sources.

  17. I hear more about the US form the BBC than most any US source, that’s for sure.

    From what I’ve gathered from some of the older editorial cartoonists I’ve met, many newspapers and news organizations were pumped by how Woodward/Bernstein/WP staff blew open Watergate making EC into visual journalistic gold. Everyone wanted one. Lots of the guys leaving staff newspaper posts now began their careers in those heady days (and after) , and in quite a few cases stayed in the same spot all those years.

    And all along, the Henry Potters who gradually bought into the newspaper business, acquiring mastheads from disinterested 3rd and 4th generation family heirs, considered them a boil on their butt… because they were not able to control them…too popular…until much later, of course, when it became necessary to cut losses, and scuttle the entire ship.

    The inglorious departures of EC today are simply just the ship’s captain rich guys finally lancing their painful butt boils and letting them drain.

    (Yuk. Sometimes having an active visual imagination and a propensity for mixed metaphors should be considered an occupational hazard…)

  18. “Soulless corporationsâ?¦..???â?¦ if they ever had a soul to begin with.”

    Yes, you will notice that none of them have bellybuttons!

  19. I find it ironic that the largest distributor of editorial cartoons in the US posts a comment on this thread that almost sounds like itâ??s a bad thing for cartoonists to lose their jobs and for the craft to become nothing more than a hobby.
    Itâ??s disingenuous when you (the syndicates) are definitely are not a part of the solution, and are in fact as much of a cause of the problem as the â??evil editors/publishers/corporationsâ? etc.

    No, I mean, thatâ??s funny â?¦ really.

    Itâ??d make a great cartoon though.

  20. My newspaper (The Midland Daily News) just reduced the size
    of their paper and along with it the size of the comics. Yes,even yours Wiley. They are now 5 1/4″ X 1 5/8″. Excuse me, I have to go get my magnifying glass.

  21. i worked with bill on our junior college newspaper many years ago. we all knew then he would become something special. i have loved his cartoons as i would often see them in stars and stripes when i was in the army. he is one of the nicest guys you could meet. this was an unfortunate sign of the times to strike him. but i suspect he’ll do just fine.

  22. Are newspapers in other countries on life-support, too? Do they have robust comics sections? How many foreign papers (%) do strips like Lio or Dilbert or Pearls Before Swine appear in?

    Is it bad all over… or just in the U.S.? What about Canada?

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