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Posted at 11:45 AM ET, 03/20/2009

The Cartooning Cause That's Fit to Print

By Michael Cavna

Okay, here's an idea:

As newspaper cartoonists look around their table and see the newsroom herds thinning, or the moving trucks pulling up, or the security guard hovering as colleagues pack up their things, maybe it's time for a single, strong coordinated act.

To celebrate the glorious, historic field that is newspaper cartooning -- and to mourn its current endangered state -- what if all cartoonists who (still) appear in newspapers picked a single day to honor their chosen field and its vital role in a free democracy?

That's right: Every editorial cartoonist still standing would participate. Make the most visual stand possible.

A particular reason to do this with urgency is because, as I've written recently, editorial cartoonists seem to be going down at nearly a weekly rate.

From layoffs to buyouts to "hold your nose" resignations, the names of the ousted in recent months reportedly include these 16 artists (and this is merely a representative list. There are also freelancers, part-timers, occasional contributors, honest-to-goodness retirees and numerous others--feel free to name-check them in the Comments field):

Robert Ariail (The State)
Chip Bok (Akron Beacon Journal)
Jim Borgman (Cincinnati Enquirer)
Richard Crowson (Wichita Eagle)
Bill Day (Commercial Appeal [Memphis])
Eric Devericks (Seattle Times)
Brian Duffy (Des Moines Register)
Peter Dunlap-Shohl (Anchorage Daily News)
Bill Garner (Washington Times)
Steve Greenberg (Ventura County Star)
Lee Judge (Kansas City Star)
Drew Litton (Rocky Mountain News)
Patrick O'Connor (L.A. Daily News)
Ben Sargent (Austin American Statesman)
Ed Stein (Rocky Mountain News)
Rob Tornoe (

What say you, political cartoonists? Time to come together for a truly worthy cause: Each other. While the lights in your cubicle or office are still on.

By Michael Cavna  | March 20, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
Categories:  The Political Cartoon  
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It wasn't so long ago that journalists everywhere referred to people who used the internet as "nerds." Oh, how they sneered at the geeks who knew how to add and multiply and the difference between a million and a billion. What losers! Now it's going to eat them all. Who loses now?

Granted, all this was in print, and I don't recall a single political cartoonist who ever made this slur. Hmm.

Posted by: Jumper1 | March 20, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

The problem with this idea is the same problem that hit the action by cartoonists of color a couple years ago. They all ran the same comic (same dialog, different art); when you saw them all together, it was impressive.

But nobody who wasn't specifically looking for it ever *did* see them all together, because the whole *point* was that most papers run one, maybe two strips done by nonwhite cartoonists. So in the Post it just looked sort of odd - I think they ran two - and in all the papers that only ran one, it was utterly unremarkable.

How many editorial cartoons do most papers run daily? (Especially now, after the layoffs?)

Posted by: beardo1 | March 20, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

>> beardo1:

point well-taken. the big difference from even just a few years past, though, is how many news, industry and fan Web sites now post "galleries" of cartoons for "event" occasions. (See: Year-end best-of cartoon lists by Time, Slate, Newsweek, etc.) online pick-up would be key.


Posted by: cavnam | March 20, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Kallaugher, the editorial cartoonist from the Baltimore Sun, was let go in 2006 -- before the current bumper crop of laid-off newspaper cartoonists, but he's still worth a mention.

Posted by: trow125 | March 22, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

John Sherffius picked up this idea and used it for his March 21st cartoon. It's at:

Posted by: greggwiggins | March 24, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

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