Was catching up with my friend Derf’s blog, and noticed a couple of items of interest to people who are interested in items such as these. If you will.
The Hook in Charlottesville, VA, a plucky little weekly that featured my strip since its start-up ten years ago, decided to devote its shrinking budget to a local cartoon. Can’t argue with that editorial decision, although these things very seldom work out. The local cartoon usually isn’t all that great and, even if it is, the cartoonist soon tires of working for the pittance one lone weekly pays. It’s why those of us who forged careers in the weekly press syndicated in the first place, because these papers all pay shit. But if you multiply shit pay by 50, then it becomes a living wage. The Hook was a refreshingly comix-friendly paper right from the start. It competed with an older, rival weekly and managed to carve out a readership in a nasty newspaper war. The Hook, unlike its rival, ran lots of comix. Its success and that fact are not unrelated. But what’s done is done and I wish them the best.
The DC City Paper also dumped all its comix at the end of 2011, a scant nine months after their much-ballyhoed return to the pages of the paper on a gorgeous comix page anchored by The City. The DC City Paper was once one of the great weeklies. Owned by the Chicago Reader, it often surpassed its revered parent in quality and staff. And it was chock full of comix. In 2007, the aging hippie owners cashed out and sold both papers to the Creative Loafing media company, which quickly went bankrupt, thanks to overpaying for the new papers … In 2009, Creative Loafing’s largest creditor, the Atayala hedge fund, seized all the papers. Things stabilized somewhat after that, but clearly Atayala, worth in excess of $1 billion, is losing interest in a failing, small potatoes industry. So once again the comix are gone from DC City Paper, this time likely for good.
Totally agree with the point about syndication vs. the local cartoonist — I have rarely if ever seen that one work out, though unfortunately the syndicated cartoonist is rarely brought back after the inevitable burnout of the local person. And sorry to hear that the DC paper has already given up on comics once again. I never managed to break into that paper myself, but was glad to see them devoting an entire page to the art form.
Looking forward to Derf’s new graphic novel, the story of his teenage acquaintance Jeffrey Dahmer. Seriously.
… usually don’t repeat things here that I’ve tweeted, but I’ll make an exception for this: dumping comics is the alt-weekly version of “austerity” — killing the cheapest AND most popular part of your paper.