Cartoonist cost cutting

Cartoonist cost cutting measures were yet another experience when the web began impacting print and cartooning in general.

cartoonist cost cutting

I previously wrote how technology affects cartoonists from an excerpt in author Dave Astor’s book Comic (and Column) Confessional.

And here is another excerpt from that same book relating to the way cartoonists were treated as newspapers began laying off, even firing their staff cartoonists.

Cost cuts affecting cartoonists

To follow is some interesting dialogue Dave mentioned from Chapter 28:

You might be wondering why other media outlets broke the aforementioned payola stories.

With all the web stuff I had to do, it was hard to find time to unearth “scoops” the way I used to.

Internet dominoes falling towards cartoonists

I was more inundated reporter that investigative reporter.

While some columnists raked in the GOP dough, other syndicated creators struggled.

Dailies continued to eliminate editorial cartooning positions; for instance, the Los Angeles Times sacked Michael Ramirez in 2005 (when it also axed longtime columnist Robert Scheer, who strongly opposed the Iraq War).

Given the budget-slicing papers jettisoned about 2,000 people in 2005, cartoonists comprised a small portion of that total.

But with perhaps 80 staff cartoonists left in the U.S. that year, any reduction in that number was huge.

Then, in January 2006, cartoonist Kevin “KAL” Kallugher unwillingly took a buyout from the Baltimore Sun – which, like L.A. Times, was owned by the Tribune Company.

But even as cost-cutting reigned at that media corporation, Tribune Co. CEO Dennis FitzSimons got a $41 million departing package two years later. Obscene.

One temporary exception to this dreary job picture involved the South Bend Tribune (Indiana) naming Ron Rogers it’s staff cartoonist in mid-2005.

Ron was one of the few black creators to ever land such a post at a general-circulation daily (Tim Jackson was well known for his cartoons in the Chicago Defender, an African-American paper).

But Indiana dailies gaveth and tooketh away. In 2006, the Munster Times would lay of cartoonist Stacy Curtis.

“This profession has ‘Titanc’ painted on the side of it,” lamented Curtis, who was escorted from the building the day of his firing even though he had been with the paper nearly 10 years and never did anything to deserve not getting two weeks’ notice. Corporate-owned places are so humane.

Curtis did land on his feet as an illustrator of children’s books – a genre also entered by syndicated cartoonists Tony Auth, Chip Bok, Berkeley Breathed, Steve Breen, Jerry Craft, Jim Davis, Guy Gilchrist, Lynn Johnston Mike Lester, Patrick McDoinnell, Wiley Miller, Henry Payne, and Morrie Turner among others.