CSotD Extra: Counterpoint Quickly Comes of Age

A good editorial cartoon should be provocative. Whether you lean left or right, you should be able to find something you like – and dislike – in Counterpoint. That is our strength. Cartoons get people thinking and debating. Engaged debate is the lifeblood of a well-functioning democracy. — Nick Anderson

If you follow any of an increasing bundle of political cartoonists on Twitter, on Facebook or elsewhere, the above banner is something you’ve seen before.

Counterpoint has arrived with a punch.

The eagerness of participating cartoonists to promote this new platform explains, in part, why it has gone from some 750 subscribers three months ago to around 50,000 today.

But another explanation is that people want good editorial cartoons.

Granted, the fact that it’s free doesn’t exactly discourage subscribers to this newsletter.

But the line-up is impressive. While not every cartoonist appears in each issue, here’s a list of who we’ve seen so far:

Eric Allie
Nick Anderson
Nate Beeler
Darrin Bell
Lisa Benson
Chris Britt
Michael de Adder
Kal Kallaugher
Mike Lester
Rick McKee
Ted Rall
Michael Ramirez
Rob Rogers
Scott Stantis

The newsletter is simple enough: You subscribe, it comes. It started as a weekly, now it’s twice a week. Success will do that.

There’s no charge, and the eventual business plan is to have it be entirely advertiser supporter, so there won’t be a charge.

The format is also simple: A half dozen or so cartoons with widely varying perspectives, as that above list would suggest. One may challenge you, the next make you laugh, the one after that infuriate you, ideally two of each.

They’re current, which isn’t always the case with cartoon round-ups, because they’re not pulled from the past week’s syndicate sites: They’re first-run cartoons.

And, yes, it’s worth what you’re paying for it. “Free” is an excellent price point.

So, how did this thing happen?

In mid-2018, Nick Anderson, himself a victim of downsizing at the Houston Chronicle, became upset with the way Rob Rogers was being shoved out of his long-time perch in Pittsburgh.

“I approached the (Association of American Editorial Cartoonist) board and said ‘This is not new,'” Anderson says, citing not only the ongoing layoffs in this country, but the more deadly attacks on political cartooning in Paris and Denmark.

He wrote a statement for the AAEC, but then-president Pat Bagley said it felt like a column with wider appeal.

Cartoon-fan Jake Tapper was approached and the piece ended up on CNN’s website, where, Anderson says, “It didn’t really matter if only one person read it.”

Easy to say in retrospect: That one person was Vivek Garipalli, venture capitalist, entrepreneur and founder of a healthcare company in Silicon Valley, who agreed with Anderson’s contention that cutting off dialogue is unhealthy.

“A week later, I was flown out to New York,” Anderson says, for a confab with Garipalli in the Hamptons.

“It was quite surreal,” he admits. “Here I was, struggling financially, barely able to keep my head above water, sitting on the beach looking out at the water, then being flown back to Manhattan in a helicopter.”

He quickly summoned Kal Kallaugher and Matt Davies for a more in-depth brainstorming session with Garipalli, and the rest …

… well, the rest was a lot of fits and starts and drawing up of a business model and some testing, he says. Things like this don’t just leap up fully formed.

But they got the newsletter together in time to catch the release of the Mueller Report this spring. At which point that leap from 750 to 50,000 began.

To subscribe, go here and enter your email address. The newsletter will arrive in your box twice a week.

As the traditional platforms for political cartooning disappear, the choice is to invent new ways or to let the art form die.

This seems to be working.

In the current market, that’s worth a parade.

9 thoughts on “CSotD Extra: Counterpoint Quickly Comes of Age

  1. You left out one important feature of COUNTERPOINT:
    we have been instructed NOT to play it “safe”, NOT to hold back and NOT to be afraid to rattle some cages. That came from the top.

    Thanks for the plug. We’re a proud competitive bunch who agree on nothing other than the need to keep this art form alive.

  2. Anything that Rick McKee is involved with is something I am interested in. As good as Rick is, he has surrounded himself with cartoonist almost as good as he is. This is a great source of information and humor at the same time. We are part of the ground floor. This can only grow exponentially. With the downfall of the traditional newspaper, I am excited to be a customer of this new venture that these talented cartoonist are part of. Keep the cartoons coming.

  3. Thanks, Mr. Sanders!
    Your check is in the mail!
    Seriously, thanks for the kind words.
    – rick

  4. I have the good fortune of being friends with a few of these cartoonists on FB. When they put out the word about Counterpoint, I immediately signed on. I enjoy a good laugh and the craft of cartooning, and even though a couple of the cartoonists published in Counterpoint tick me off with their work, I find it refreshing to see two sides of an issue sitting side-by-side. Glad you started Counterpoint and here’s to the awesome future of political cartooning!

  5. Thank you to everyone who makes Counterpoint possible!
    I love that the artists are free to express themselves, as it should be. I am among the early subscribers since I am a long-time follower of Nick Anderson, and I love Counterpoint!

    ‘You left out one important feature of COUNTERPOINT:
    we have been instructed NOT to play it “safe”, NOT to hold back and NOT to be afraid to rattle some cages. That came from the top. … ‘ (LESTER)

  6. I’m loving COUNTERPOINT! There’s something here to please (and offend) everyone, which is a refreshing change from most media outlets. But most importantly, this is keeping the art form of political cartooning alive when print is just no longer an option.

    Many of my favorite cartoonists contribute to COUNTERPOINT and it’s fun to see their bare knuckle styles when unconstrained by editors. I hope COUNTERPOINT continues to grow – it deserves to!

  7. I love that the plan is for it to be advertising-based and thus always free. To be honest, I was expecting at some point to be asked for money, but this is definitely better.

    Better yet would be if we had the ability to pay for a subscription and get an ad-free version if we chose. There’s all kinds of goodness in that model.

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