The Political Cartoon: The Staff Cartoonists Who Needed a Moving Van in '08
From the dozens of interviews with cartoonists that Comic Riffs conducted this year, it stands out as one of the most poignant lines -- a quote that still resonates in its personal nature.
Fresh off of being pink-slipped by the Ventura County (Calif.) Star -- the day after Election Day, no less -- political cartoonist and "one-man art department" Steve Greenberg told us:
"I'm just starting to sort out the possibilities. I'm looking at diverse things: Can I create a Web comic? Can I [create] informational graphics for a business? ...
I'm 54 years old and I've got to reinvent myself."
In a year that saw more than a dozen political cartoonists vacate their cherished posts -- and as the national tally of such artists dipped to about 75 total -- that's about as perfectly telling a sentiment as I've heard. "I'm 54 years old and I've got to reinvent myself."
At year's end, 'Riffs stops to appreciate their collective efforts and talents. Rob Tornoe at Politicker.com -- a cartoonist who himself has assumed different duties -- compiled a list of staff cartoonists who were laid off, bought out or otherwise downsized. Here 'tis:
Dick Adair - Honolulu Advertiser (laid off)
Jim Borgman -- Cincinnati Enquirer (buyout)
Chip Bok - Akron Beacon Journal (buyout)
Stuart Carlson -- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (buyout)
David Catrow - Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun (left for other work) Richard Crowson - Wichita Eagle (laid off)
Eric Devericks- Seattle Times (laid off)
Brian Duffy¬- Des Moines Register (laid off)
Peter Dunlap-Shohl- Anchorage Daily News (buyout)
Jake Fuller- Gainesville (Fla.) Sun (laid off)
Dave Granlund- MetroWest (Mass.) Daily News (laid off)
Steve Greenberg- Ventura County Star (laid off)
Jim Lange- Oklahoman (involuntary early retirement)
Dwane Powell - The Raleigh News & Observer (left rather than shift to part-time status)
Don Wright -- Palm Beach (Fla.) Post (buyout)
And I should note: Some other cartoonists remain in limbo, their job status as fuzzy as a pointillist painting at extreme close-up.
Looking at that roster of cartoonists, I'm also reminded of what cartooning legend Jim Borgman told Comic Riffs in September, after his buyout was announced. Both the image he paints and the situation he addresses have stuck with me. I find myself laughing and sighing deeply at the same time:
"It feels like the editorial cartoonists' Rapture. I see all of our soft bodies being assumed into the heavens these days. Who could have imagined that our profession would evaporate like this?
Well said, Mr. Borgman. Well said.
| December 30, 2008; 11:00 AM ET
Categories: The Political Cartoon
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