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

March 4, 2009

And They Will All Live Like Cartoonists: The US Economy And Comics, Post #26

* the cartoonist and current AAEC president Ted Rall releases another editorial about the stupidity of newspapers in dumping their editorial cartoonists. I'll repeat what I said after the last one of these jeremiads: it isn't good enough. The decline of staffed editorial cartooning positions is beyond the point where a bunch of strong assertions cleverly made and presented with passion will convince newspapers that what they're doing isn't necessary. I don't see anything here that would convince me as a newspaper editor I wouldn't be better off simply picking up a syndicated Ted Rall cartoon or taking my staff cartoonist investment and hiring a video blogger. Once again, I challenge Ted Rall and the AAEC to come up with five models of newspaper-cartoonist relationships that work for those newspapers, specific examples and detailed reasons why they work, and how newspapers can develop that within their own publications. Having not one but two skilled cartoonists sure didn't save the Rocky Mountain News. Fair or not, that's the tenor of the conversation right now.

* community newspapers are apparently doing better than other models when it comes to weathering the economic downturn sales-wise.

* here's a Mike Luckovich cartoon being used by The Newspaper Project. Nice.

image* the weekly UK-based kids' comics The DFC is apparently up for sale after Random House decided to end its support of the comics publication. The effort had received mostly positive notions from the comics-reading community in that country. Barring a buyer, which no one thinks likely, the publication will cease to exist on March 27th. If that ends up being the date of closure, it will have lasted 10 months. Matthew Badham e-mailed with some creator reactions.

* Alan Gardner suggests you subscribe to your local paper as something you do to support your community.

* the remaining Virgin megastores will close.

* although this post was part of the links provided to WonderCon coverage, the SLG panel should also be included in one of these posts just to show how hard it's been for a sturdy industry survivor like Dan Vado's company.

* here's a nice blog post on alternative revenue strategies for newspapers that I'm sure I got from another, more attentive blogger that I can't remember at this point. One of the things that's truly alarming about the debate over future revenue models is that none of them seem specific to existing publications, and in fact I'd argue that many seem more likely to me at least to work better for some start-up somewhere. Another distressing thing about the revenue models is they all sound sort of sucky.

* okay, I must have nicked these last couple of posts from Dirk Deppey, because there's more than one in a row. Sorry, Dirk. This post talks in very positive fashion about the ability of newspapers to sell authoritative, aggressive and unique coverage to existing and even future subscribers. There's a lot of odd thinking in this essay, in that what the writer feels is evidence that you can't, for instance, sell deficient coverage, might also be read as the potential that any pay site may find a free competitor in their area that outperforms them. "Be awesome" isn't a strategic move for a newspaper; it's a wish for a newspaper that you make before blowing some candles out.

* here's mention of a model that I haven't seen discussed a whole lot: community coverage through supported blogging.

* finally, to shift gears a bit, the distribution fee struggle for Anderson News looks like it may have an ugly ending, as companies owed money by the business seek to force it into bankruptcy. Some newsstands apparently went completely unserviced during this conflict over additional fees, which can't be a good thing in this economy.
posted 7:20 am PST | Permalink

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