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E&P: Will editorial cartoonist vanish?

More gloom and doom writings about the state of editorial cartooning in the industry. This time from Editor and Publisher.

To be a newspaper staff editorial cartoonist these days is to live in dread that the next phone call is coming from the human resources department. “There’s a great sense of dismay and gloom in the editorial cartooning world,” says Steve Greenberg, a member of that fraternity. Because their numbers were so small to begin with, the departure of cartoonists amid the mass layoffs in newsrooms around the nation has had a huge impact on the craft.

Community Comments

#1 Beth Cravens
June/12/2009
@ 9:49 am

OMG! We’re all gonna die!
Seriously though. editorial cartoonists are artists too and you can’t stop an artist from doing their art. Just have to find another way to make money doing it.

#2 Brian Fairrington
June/12/2009
@ 11:24 am

Is editorial cartooning dying? The answer is no. What is dying are newspaper staff positions. There needs to be a distinction made between the two.

Just because the staff position will no longer exists does not mean editorial cartooning won’t continue. It will and is.

#3 Dan Reynolds
June/12/2009
@ 11:35 am

The liberals, now that they’re in power, don’t want cartoonists to give them equal time. It was fine to chide the right, but the liberal media won’t have cartoonists shedding any light on their goings on.

#4 Paul Fell
June/12/2009
@ 11:56 am

Dan, most newspapers in this country are owned and run by people whose politics are anything but liberal.

Perhaps there’s a liberal anti-first amendment underground movement that the rest of us don’t know about…?

#5 Kelly Ferguson
June/13/2009
@ 1:16 pm

I think Dan was being sarcastic.

At least I hope he was…

#6 Wiley Miller
June/13/2009
@ 3:33 pm

No, Kelly, Dan was not being sarcastic. But this is just end of a long process, as newspapers have been getting rid of editorial cartoons and dumbing them down for over 20 years now.

#7 Mike Peterson
June/13/2009
@ 4:49 pm

Dumbing down is for sure. The piece at dailyvoice decrying Chip Bok’s pinata cartoon pointed out, as part of the criticism, that it wasn’t funny. Sigh. That would be amusing if it weren’t that there are editorial page editors who think political cartoons are supposed to be “funny.”

#8 P.S. Mueller
June/15/2009
@ 12:14 pm

I can’t think of a single thing to add to Wiley’s comment.

#9 PHILIP FARMER
June/15/2009
@ 4:47 pm

I agree with you Mike… persons who judge comics as “not funny” when the importance is their *relevance* and editors who think political cartoons are “too political” to print. Editors looking to fill space, not play referee. It’s all in the name of protecting the money coming in: upset a reader, lose a subscription.

#10 John Read
June/16/2009
@ 5:30 pm

Mike Peterson: “That would be amusing if it werenâ??t that there are editorial page editors who think political cartoons are supposed to be ‘funny.'”

There are also (many) editorial cartoonists, syndicated to hundreds of newspapers, who think political cartoons are supposed to be funny.

#11 JP Trostle
June/17/2009
@ 8:51 am

I think we should all send a letter to the editor complaining their last editorial on zoning wasn’t funny enough.

#12 August J. Pollak
June/18/2009
@ 9:34 am

Dan, your argument just seems ridiculous. Just off the top of my head, the Washington Post’s editorial board leans center-right despite having the left-wing Tom Toles, while the left-leaning LA Times hires Mike Ramirez, whose right-wing positions have been horrifically silenced by the leftist media in the form of multiple Pulitzers.

That said, if they mean the paid staff position and the format of a single-panel gag illustration-style cartoon is vanishing, I tend to agree. (Most sadly) I think with online magazines (not webcomics, but I mean stuff like Slate, etc.) the idea of a single-panel editorial cartoon is now being delegated to the simple “accompanying illustration.” I used to work at CampusProgress.org where we had the honor of giving the incredibly talented Matt Bors an early regular gig, and he did dozens of hilarious one-panel illos for us. It’s a genre that, finance-wise, is going to turn to an illustrator’s market.

Honestly, despite all its overall financial troubles over the last decade, Salon has kept an amazing format for their cartoonists- a team of incredibly talented cartoonists who all produce work in a page-length, strip-style format. Alt-style comics are like mini-articles for magazines and they should really pick up more of them for their own brand.

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