Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 1, 2013

Go, Look: Derf's Last Strip For The Cleveland Plain-Dealer

I've already called attention to the fact that Derf Backderf and his The City were terminated by the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. I might not have placed it in the proper context of that once-proud publication's recent round of horrific-sounding layoffs and the latest, darkly comedic attempt by an ownership perhaps upset their profits aren't what they used to be to palm off a wounded not-every-day paper hammered halfway through the round hole of Internet publication as some sort of new media enterprise led by marketing executives; I thought you might want to look at the last strip here.

One thing that a strip like Derf's does well in the context of a newspaper is that it doesn't have to be limited to the presentation of ideas that fit conventional event narratives. As is the case with this strip, Derf can just pulverize some broader notions -- CEO pay, for example -- without having to tie it into something "fair" or "newsworthy." It's a powerful weapon for papers, and all the great, worthwhile ones had a really good cartoonist available to them, and in some cases more than one. For a couple of decades, the alternative press either had their own or shared a really solid group of about a half-dozen, a group to which Derf was a late but valued addition. We always remember those moments in cartooning where an individual offering meets history in a way that is poignant and affecting, but the quiet insistence of cartoons is important, too, their ability to not give up on an issue or a point of view. There are fewer papers now, and fewer slots, and fewer good cartoonists let alone great ones; we are poorer as a culture for their growing absence.
posted 5:10 am PST | Permalink

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