The Real Gannett Conspiracy = Chauvinism

In one of my answers in the comments section of The Great Gannett Comics Conspiracy I sarcastically said, “It’s like saying Gannett dropped Between Friends because they are misogynistic.”

Further analysis suggests that may not be far from right.

But first let’s turn to Breaking Cat News cartoonist Georgia Dunn from her Facebook page:

The recent restructuring of newspapers nationwide has hit ‘Breaking Cat News’ hard in 2024. As of this month, I’m down a third of my newspaper income. ? The BCN Patreon has gone from helping lend extra support to making the difference in keeping the comic afloat! Thanks to our Patreon, my tap in income is covered and I’m still in good shape to pay the bills! Without the Patreon and the support there, this newspaper restructuring would be forcing me to make some hard decisions. I’ve joked in the past that I “don’t want to go back to working at the bank,” but it would have been much more of a reality after this restructuring. If you support BCN on Patreon, THANK YOU!! You are keeping the lights on in the CN news studio, and I’m so grateful to you. If you don’t already and would consider supporting my Patreon, I would appreciate it so, so much and you can find it here.

Georgia then goes on to make a point I am ashamed and embarrassed to confess I hadn’t noticed:

…Simply put, major newspapers have recently restructured their funny pages to run only a few pre-chosen comics, (similar to an ala carte menu) shutting out many of the new comics created in this century completely. Most of the comics my children and their friends read were dropped. (Thank goodness Crabgrass made it, that is one of their favorites!) Women cartoonists were cut almost entirely nationwide [emphasis added].

A look at The Gannett 34 for their 200 newspapers shows the truth of her statement.

Group 1: Blondie, Zits, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace

Group 2: Garfield, Peanuts, For Better or For Worse, Baby Blues, Pickles, FoxTrot

Group 3: Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, Ziggy, Marmaduke, Non Sequitur, Crabgrass

Group 4 Crankshaft, Luann, Baldo, Frank & Ernest, The Born Loser   

Group 5: B.C., Wizard of Id, Close to Home, Argyle Sweater, Mother Goose, Rose is Rose

Group 6: Hi & Lois, Mutts, Curtis, Shoe, The Lockhorns, Sally Forth

There is only one comic by a woman cartoonist and, with apologies to Lynn Johnston, For Better or For Worse is a zombie strip like Peanuts. FBoFW has been in reruns for years with minor tweaks to make it seem current.

Luann has Greg Evan’s daughter as a co-writer but not a co-signer; and The Lockhorns is co-signed by Bunny Hoest as she produces that with John Reiner. But The Lockhorns was dropped on January 1 replaced by Sally Forth – a comic with a female titled charcter but produced by men.

February 17 UPDATE:

Michael Cavna reminds me that Shoe is owned and produced and signed by Susie MacNelly. So add another woman to the list, though Shoe is part of the seldom seen Group 6. Apologies to Susie for the slight.

And it is not just Gannett.

Let’s look at the lineup in McClatchy‘s 30 newspapers: Off The Mark, The Argyle Sweater, Loose Parts, Garfield, Crabgrass, Mother Goose and Grimm, Sherman’s Lagoon, Luann, Pearls Before Swine, JumpStart, Baldo, Pooch Cafe, Peanuts, Baby Blues, Zits, Pickles, Crankshaft, Close to Home, Cornered, The Flying McCoys, Rubes, Doonesbury, Foxtrot, Big Nate, Mike du Jour, Red and Rover, Deflocked, Wallace the Brave, Reality Check, and Wumo.

31 comics with only Karen Evans’ uncredited Luann with female input, and none signed by a woman.

Lee Enterprises’ six dozen daily newspapers: Garfield, Baby Blues, Peanuts, For Better or Worse, Pearls Before Swine, Luann, Crabgrass, Pickles, The Argyle Sweater, Close to Home, Born Loser, Doonesbury, FoxTrot, Frank & Ernest, Rose is Rose, Baldo, Jump Start, and Marmaduke.

18 comics – the rerun For Better or For Worse and the ghost-written Luann is it for participation by women.

Canada’s Postmedia group (a hundred papers but unsure how many run a comics page, lets say a few dozen): Garfield, Big Nate, Cornered, Half Full, Loose Parts, Adam @ Home, Peanuts, Sherman’s Lagoon, Baby Blues, Dilbert, Mother Goose and Grimm, Pickles, Luann, Crabgrass, Pooch Cafe, For Better or For Worse, Mike du Jour, Crankshaft, Rose is Rose, Pearls Before Swine, Off The Mark, The Argyle Sweater, and Lio.

20 comics with the reliable Luann and For Better or For Worse. A few replacements in the year since we originally posted. Maria Scrivan ended her Half Full, it was replaced by manly Dave Blazek’s Loose Parts.

The smallish Wick Communications continues the “ghosting” of women: Baby Blues, Big Nate, For Better or For Worse, Garfield, Peanuts, Pearls Before Swine, and Pickles.

The 7 comics include the rerun For Better or For Worse and no other women.

So 110 slots and we find one uncredited woman writer and a rerun comic by a woman in the consolidated comics pages of the above five newspaper groups (nearly 350 individual newspapers). Less than 2%. And no NEW comics by a credited woman cartoonist!

Update: add one more – Shoe produced by a woman.

Back to Georgia:

Women cartoonists were cut almost entirely nationwide. That was incredibly disheartening for me. There are already more dead men than living women in the funny pages (an observation my daughter made about a year ago), and this just about weeded the rest of us out…

Thank you again SO MUCH for all of your support! The Patreon has become so much more crucial than I had anticipated, and feels like one of those magical serendipitous turns of good timing and gracious fate that has helped this comic the past ten years… I’m so grateful to all of you! I’m hoping this newspaper comics restructuring is just a rough patch and that BCN book sales, the newspapers that remain, and—especially!—word of mouth keep the comic going and soon enough we’re climbing in papers again. …This is not great news, though. I’m worried.

There was some good news from Georgia:

Oh, wow—Readers made up the difference in that lost 1/3 of monthly income overnight on Patreon last night! Thank you so, so much! I don’t have the words,… Waking up to that was such a loving, caring two punch hit to the heart of relief and gratitude. Knowing that whatever is happening with newspapers right now, finances can stay steady is incredibly comforting.

So support your favorite cartoonists through Patreon and subscribing to GoComics and Comics Kingdom.

As Anne Hambrock said here the other day:

Subscriptions to the syndicate’s comics sites have become so extremely important with all the changes to newspaper clients. The subscription fees are quite reasonable and the artists are relying more and more on this model.


19 thoughts on “The Real Gannett Conspiracy = Chauvinism

  1. Thank you for bringing this to a bigger audience! I read BCN on the web, figuring I would never see it in print (The Akron Beacon Journal is my local)…but now without Between Friends, Big Nate and Frazz we are treated to Wizard of Id and BC, which may be “new” but are zombies to me. (Blondie and Beetle Bailey have been there all along, and they have been modernized, at least.)

  2. I have loved watching Georgia grow Breaking Cat News for the last decade – seeing that decimated is awful. Many of these comics they left in were stale when I was a kid, and I just turned 40! I highly encourage everyone who loves comics to follow BCN on GoComics and other available forums.

  3. In addition to a lack of women in the list of comics in the Gannett 34, there’s a distinct lack of color. Only three of the 34 strips listed focus on people of color (Jump Start, Crabgrass, and Baldo). (Zits and Fox Trot have at least one character of color appearing frequently, but they aren’t a main focus. Also, I’m unfamiliar with Crankshaft and Curtis.) VERY disappointing!

  4. I didn’t even consider the lack-of-women angle. Which happens if you’re male: unless you take conscious steps to notice such things, you probably don’t. Which is why they came up with Affirmative Action. Not to “favor” people regardless of merit, but to make employers become aware of what the subconsciously did: favor employees who looked like them. And it looks like that’s what Gannett is doing.

    It’s incredibly disheartening. “Breaking Cat News” is one of the best comics there is, and Georgia is wonderful. Phoebe and her Unicorn is also really good. And both are relatively new strips. We need MORE of those, not fewer.

    1. It never was funny. I remember reading it first in either the Oakland Tribune or SF Chronicle in college.

  5. Gannett’s target market for cartoon strips is the white male, 55-80. They need to evolve in order to remain relevant.

    1. I’m a white male in that age range, and almost none of the comics that are “the Chosen Ones” appeal to me!

  6. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this either. Maybe because I always think of myself as a cartoonist and not a female cartoonist.

    It is a blow, as I’m proud of how Arctic Circle has evolved as a strip over the past 16 years (the drawing is soooo much better than in that Sunday panel you’ve shown, lol!) and yet it seems that these newspapers are going backwards.

    1. As for those title panels … I spent some time searching for title panels that would relay the essence of the comic as a whole not just that Sunday’s action, and not always successfully (see Nancy and Luann f’instance).
      My search would have been much easier if Comics Kingdom and GoComics would post the COMPLETE Sunday comics on their sites which would include the title panels. I partly blame that on you Alex – with your power and prestige and pull as a cartoonist I’m sure you could force their hand.

  7. There is less opportunity for female cartoonists in 2024 than there was in 1924. Cartoonists with new, web-only, comic strips now have a slim chance of being syndicated.

  8. I sure as heck noticed, and sent this email to Carrie Yale, Executive Editor of the Journal News in Westchester County, NY and Lynne Sullivan, Regional Executive Director of the Providence Journal and Newport Daily News.

    Jan 22, 2024, 12:06?PM
    to cyale, lynne.sullivan, bcc: rina.piccolo, bcc: CJ.Kettler

    Dear Carrie and Lynne,

    My name is Hilary Price. I am the creator of Rhymes With Orange, along with my collaborator Rina Piccolo. It always hurts to lose a paper when you’re a cartoonist, but the Gannett comics page consolidation guts female representation on the comics page. Of the thirty-four comics Gannett-owned papers can choose for their comics page, there are only two female voices behind the pen: Luann is written by a woman and For Better Or For Worse used to be written and drawn by a woman. (It is in reruns.)

    There are plenty of female characters on the comics page, but having men describe the female experience is nothing new in entertainment. If you looked around your newsrooms at the Providence Journal and the Journal News and there were thirty-two men and two women creating content, would something seem off? Would young women feel like there is a place for them there?

    I am not privy to how the big wigs at Gannett made their decision, but I think they overlooked something important: women’s voices matter in journalism, even on the comics page. I hope you will bring this to their attention.


    Hilary Price and Rina Piccolo

    Here is the Gannett 34:

    “Argyle Sweater,” “Baby Blues,” “Baldo,” “BC,” “Beetle Bailey,” “Blondie,” “Born Loser,” “Close to Home,” “Crabgrass,” “Crankshaft,” “Curtis,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Family Circus,” “For Better or Worse,” “Fox Trot” “Frank & Ernest,” “Garfield,” “Hägar the Horrible,” “Hi & Lois,” “Jump Start,” “Luann,” “Marmaduke”, “Mother Goose,” “Mutts,” “NonSequitur,” “Peanuts,” “Pearls Before Swine,” “Pickles,” “Rose is Rose,” “Sally Forth,” “Shoe,” “Wizard of Id,” “Ziggy” “Zits.”

    P.S. If you would like to use this in your letters to the editor, please do.

    Here is Executive Editor Carrie Yale’s response to my email:

    Feb 5, 2024, 10:38?AM

    to me, Lynne

    Dear Hilary and Rina,

    Thank you for your email. I have a great appreciation for the incredible work that you do, and I will send your email up the ladder.

    While never easy, decisions to change something, such as the comics lineup, are given a lot of thought and consideration.

    The action to unify comic selections in the USA TODAY Network at our more than 200 newspapers across the country came with some tough decision making.

    There is good news however, is that comics including yours, Rhymes with Orange, as well as Luann, Curtis, Between Friends, Get Fuzzy and other favorites, are available with a subscription.

    Simply go to and you will see our online comics selection. Click on “all” and you’ll be able to search alphabetically.

    The company hopes to use the revenue saved through this process to add resources to local news operations here and across the country. Already, we have added a new editor in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam and are currently advertising to fill a reporter position that will cover community news.

    I truly hope that you continue to be a loyal reader of The Journal News/

    I hope you come to appreciate our new offerings. Meanwhile, I will be collecting emails such as yours to let people know of your dissatisfaction.




    From Hilary to folks reading this post: Despite what the Executive Editor says, you can’t make a living by being digital on a newspaper comics page. You have to be in the paper.

  9. Maybe we should call the print media comics “The Dead Comic Artist’s Society.”

    I’ve passed the link to this page on to Charlie Meyerson, author and publisher of “Chicago Public Square” in the hope that he will help spread awareness of the situation.

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