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Blog Newsletter Syndicate

A Letter to My Congressman

Here is a letter I wrote to my congressman describing the grim situation facing Cagle Cartoons and our troubled editorial cartooning profession. You can save Cagle.com by visiting Cagle.com/heroes.

Cartoon by CagleCartoonist, Dave Whamond from Canada

May 12, 2020

Congressman Salud Carbajal
District Office
Santa Barbara, CA

Dear Congressman Carbajal,

… I run a constituent small business in Montecito, Cagle Cartoons, Inc., that syndicates editorial cartoons and columnists. About half of America’s daily, paid-circulation newspapers subscribe to our service that you can see at CagleCartoons.com.

Journalism has been in decline for years, but the newspaper industry now faces sudden extinction with the pandemic as newspaper advertising revenue has crashed. A large percentage of our subscribing newspapers have simply stopped paying their bills; a good example is our local Santa Barbara News-Press that has run our cartoons and columns on their editorial page on most days for over 14 years – they are now seven months behind in their payments.

Industry experts predict that as many as two thirds of newspapers may not survive the pandemic. We saw the stock price of Gannett, the largest newspaper chain, drop from over $10/share to under a dollar in a matter of months (USA Today runs our cartoons). The loss of newspapers would also sink the editorial cartooning profession and our small business along with it.

Cartoon by CagleCartoonist, Bill Day

Our Web site, Cagle.com, is the face of the editorial cartooning profession to the world and we suffer for that as press freedoms around the world are in decline. Humorless despots hate seeing themselves in our cartoons and our sites are targets of sophisticated hacker attacks that clearly come from state actors. Although America benefits by demonstrating our values around the world through journalism and editorial cartoons, the US government does little or nothing to support editorial cartoonists and other journalists who suffer from foreign attacks.

We received an SBA PPP loan in the amount of $10,600.00; we applied for a very much larger loan based on our expenses which mainly consist of royalties to our artists and our tech expenses that are bloated by defenses against foreign hacker attacks. Our small business is unusual in that we have only two employees, our income from newspapers is broadly distributed to our contributors and the loan amount was not based on our actual expenses, it was based only on the salaries of our two employees, me and my bookkeeper. We have over 75 great cartoonists and columnists, who depend on us, who were ignored in the process because their income is reported on 1099s. The PPP program was not designed for us.

By CagleCartoonist Michael Kountouris from Greece

For many years I traveled around the world giving lectures through the US State Department Speaker Program. In nations without press freedoms, audiences were shocked to see how American cartoonists were free to criticize their government. Well more than half of the world’s population lives in countries where cartoonists are not allowed to draw their nation’s leader. The Speaker Program was effective in spreading our values and promoting press freedom. American editorial cartoonists are seen as stars around the world where we are well respected, like American astronauts, basketball players and jazz musicians. These effective State Department lecture programs have stopped featuring American editorial cartoonists during the Trump administration.

The impending collapse of journalism is a national tragedy that threatens our democracy. The newspaper industry has been lobbying in Washington seeking government support that is unlikely to happen during the Trump administration which has shown hostility to press criticism – criticism that is strongest and most visible among editorial cartoonists. If Democrats win the White House, I fear that any support for journalism may not include small syndicates and press services because our businesses are unusual. We are likely to be overlooked, as we were with the PPP program.

When legislators think of journalists they don’t think of editorial cartoonists. Editorial cartoonists are journalists. We are important. Don’t forget us.

Truly,
Daryl Cagle

Daryl Cagle, Editorial Cartoonist, President Cagle Cartoons, Inc.
Syndicate: CagleCartoons.com
Site: Cagle.com
Store: PoliticalCartoons.com
Blog: DarylCagle.com


Our reader supported site, Cagle.com, still needs you!  Journalism is threatened with the pandemic that has shuttered newspaper advertisers. Some pundits predict that a large percentage of newspapers won’t survive the pandemic economic slump, and as newspapers sink, so do editorial cartoonists who depend on newspapers, and along with them, our Cagle.com site, that our small, sinking syndicate largely supports, along with our fans.

The world needs political cartoonists more now than ever. Please consider supporting Cagle.com and visit Cagle.com/heroes.

We need you! Don’t let the cartoons die!


Please forward this email to your friends – tell them our Cagle.com email newsletters are FREE and FUN! They can join the newsletter list at Cagle.com/subscribe.


Don’t miss my other Coronavirus posts:
Blame China! Part One
Blame China! Part Two

Blame China! Part Three
Coronavirus Graduation

The Most Popular Cartoons of the Pandemic

The Most Popular Cartoons of the Week through May 2nd, 2020
Best of the Grim Reaper, Part 1
Best of the Grim Reaper, Part 2
Dr Fauci PART 2
Dr Fauci PART 1
Trump and Disinfectant PART 2
Trump and Disinfectant PART 1
Most popular Cartoons of the Week through 4/26/20, (all coronavirus)
Forgotten Biden – Part 2
Forgotten Biden – Part 1
Most popular Cartoons of the Week through 4/18/20, (all coronavirus)
Most popular Cartoons of the Week, through 4/11/20 (all coronavirus)
My Favorite NEW Easter Cartoons
The Great Mort Drucker Passes Away
Planet COVID-19, Part 4

Planet COVID-19, Part 3
Planet COVID-19, Part 2
Planet COVID-19, Part 1
The Most Popular Cartoons of the Week, 4/4/20 (all coronavirus)
Toilet Paper Part Two
Toilet Paper Part One
Trump and the Easter Bunny
The Most Popular Cartoons of the Week, 3/29/20 (all coronavirus)
Tsunami Coming
Pandemics Compared
See, Hear Speak No Virus
The Best Coronavirus Sports Cartoons
New Coronavirus Favorites
The Most Popular Coronavirus Cartoons
My Corona Virus Cartoons
Corona Virus Quarantine Blues in China

 

 

 

Categories
Blog Newsletter Syndicate

California’s War on Journalism!

Today’s cartoon is about California’s new law, AB 5, that went into effect this week. The law is terrible for cartoonists and Cagle.com. It was intended to force Uber to make their drivers into employees, but overzealous lawmakers overextended into other areas that they didn’t understand, including journalism. Here’s my cartoon …

The law is decimating publishers throughout California. AB 5 affects us at California-based Cagle Cartoons also, because we publish Cagle.com, we’re defined as a publisher rather than just as a syndicate. We’ve dropped a number of California cartoonists from our roster and some of the changes that we were forced to make were painful. Some contributors who were paid are now paid nothing, to comply with AB 5.  Cagle.com features almost all non-California cartoonists and columnists now. (Out-of-state cartoonists and columnists are exempt from AB 5.)

Under AB 5, self-syndicating California cartoonists and columnists are screwed. The bill has a limit of 35 “contributions” per year that a writer or cartoonist can make to a publisher. The bill’s author is quoted as saying that the arbitrary number was selected so that weekly newspaper columnists could not be freelancers and must be employees.

A self-syndicating California cartoonist or columnist might have ten newspaper clients who each subscribe to the same cartoons or columns, each might pay $40/month; AB 5 mandates that this cartoonist or columnist has to be taken on as an hourly employee by each and all of her ten subscribers –of-course, no subscriber would take on a self-syndicating cartoonist or columnist as an employee.

Thirty years ago, altie weeklies were thriving and there were a bunch of self-syndicating cartoonists. It used to be that young cartoonists were advised to start their careers drawing local cartoons for their local paper for a tiny fee. Self-syndicating cartoonists were diverse, with more women and minorities and more diverse points of view than among the mainstream editorial cartoonists. AB 5 would have had a big impact years ago, snuffing out these California cartoonists –but today I fear that the self-syndicating California cartoonists have already died off; young, local cartoonists no longer exist, so there are few or no independent newspaper cartoonists that are left for AB 5 to crush. (If there are any, I’d like to hear about them.)

There’s another interesting point about AB 5 and editorial cartoonists. Some years ago it was conventional wisdom that, “in the future,” editorial cartoons would be animated. The big editorial cartooning awards wanted to be seen as forward-thinking so they selected award winners who did animated cartoons and many award-hungry editorial cartoonists spent a lot of time learning animation techniques. With very few exceptions, animation never caught on in the editorial cartooning business. The Web never developed a culture of paying for content and the remaining political cartoonists have been clinging to the sinking ship of print. AB 5 expressly bans freelance cartoonists from doing even one animation. Animated editorial cartoons can only be done by employees in California. California Democrats slammed the door on our future that never happened.

Legislators who supported AB 5 argue that it is good for journalists and cartoonists, because they need better jobs that get employee benefits. What is actually happening is that the journalists simply don’t get hired and they lose their freelance gigs; the journalism doesn’t get done and the publishers are shrinking and suffering even more. At Cagle Cartoons, we can’t afford to hire any cartoonists or columnists as employees, and none of them would want to suffer the restrictions of being our employees. The idea that publishers, including little Web sites, would hire cartoonists as employees now is whimsical nonsense from another era. In California, the “Gig Economy” is now the “can’t get a gig” economy.

It is ironic that we read so much about President Trump attacking journalism, but the truly effective attacks on journalism come from liberal Democrats in Sacramento.

Another new California law that is costly and risky for us is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). This new, over-reaching, sloppy law is another bludgeon in my state’s war on journalism. The law is intended to protect consumers by affecting only large companies that trade in consumer information which should be confidential –but it has the added effect of crushing little journalism sites like Cagle.com.  Read my post about CCPA!.


We need your support for Cagle.com (and DarylCagle.com)! Notice that we run no advertising! We depend entirely upon the generosity of our readers to sustain the site. Please visit Cagle.com/heroes and make a contribution. You are much appreciated!


 

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Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Cruel Canadian Cut

I’m disappointed to write that star Canadian cartoonist, Michael de Adder, was cut from five  Brunswick News, Inc. newspapers after drawing the cartoon below, about Donald Trump, golf and migrants. The New Brunswick newspapers didn’t run the cartoon that many say lost the gig for Michael, and they deny that they cancelled Michael’s contract because of the cartoon.


Wes Tyrell, the president of the Association of Canadian Cartoonists wrote about Michael’s firing:

Cartoonist Michael de Adder was let go from his job drawing editorial cartoons for all the major New Brunswick newspapers 24 hours after his Donald Trump cartoon went viral on social media, a job he held for 17 years.

Although he has stated there was no reason given for his firing, the timing was no coincidence.
Michael told me once that not only were the J.D. Irving owned New Brunswick newspapers challenging to work for, but there were a series of taboo subjects he could not touch. One of these taboo subjects was Donald Trump.

Michael deAdder has drawn many well-documented cartoons on Trump, they have however, systematically never been seen in the NB papers.

The Irvings have considerable corporate interests in the United States, but why would they care about cartoons potentially offending the American president? (As if Trump would be interested in reading news about Moncton, Saint John or even Restigouche.)

Even more puzzling, why would the Irvings care enough about a single Trump cartoon that they fire their award winning cartoonist?

A cartoon that didn’t even appear in their newspaper.

It’s simple really, J.D. Irving, Limited is not only a privately owned conglomerate headquartered in New Brunswick, its also an international behemoth with global reach. Trade has been an issue since Trump took office, trade that affects the Irvings directly, not to mention a host of other issues. And the President himself is an unknown quantity who punishes those who appear to oppose him.

Not long ago Rob Rogers lost his job at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for drawing cartoons about Trump, but he’s an American at an American newspaper. The Telegraph Journal and other newspapers in the chain are based in New Brunswick, and de Adder is a New Brunswicker.
Why is this happening in Canada?

de Adder’s Trump cartoons didn’t appear in the newspaper but they were viewed all across social media, something that probably went unnoticed most days by Irving. But his cartoon of June 26 couldn’t be ignored. The trope of political figures golfing and showing disdain for issues has been seen before, but deAdder’s take hit a nerve. It went viral and social media stars like George Takei even shared it. For a brief period de Adder was the poster boy for the Anti-Trump movement. A good place to be if you’re a cartoonist, but a bad place to be if you work for a foreign oil company with business ties to the United States.

Whether the powers that be in America would make the connection between de Adder’s cartoon and Brunswick News Inc doesn’t matter.

It seems that the Irving’s don’t want to take that chance. So they cut all ties.

A solid reason why an oil company has no business owning newspapers.

Wes Tyrell
President – Association of Canadian Cartoonists


Editorial cartoonists are facing their toughest times ever as timid newspapers like The New York Times drop cartoons because cartoons can offend readers; conservative/Trump-supporting newspapers drop cartoons because they oppose Trump, and corporate bean-counters drop cartoons because editorial cartoons aren’t seen as bringing in income –often the entire editorial page is dropped.

Editorial cartoons are an important part of journalism. Don’t let editorial cartoons disappear! Here at CagleCartoons we syndicate a package of great cartoonists to over 800 subscribing newspapers; we’re an important source of income to our struggling cartoonists. Our Cagle.com Web site is free and runs no advertising –the site is entirely supported by contributions from our readers. We need your support. Cagle.com is an important resource for editorial cartoonists around the world and is used in Social Studies classrooms throughout America. Help us survive!

Please visit Cagle.com/Heroes and make a contribution to support our art form and to keep our site online and free!

Categories
Blog Syndicate

Slap Slap

Here’s Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman slapping Uncle Sam around a bit, with the dismembered gauntlet/hand of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. It looks like Uncle Sam is just going to turn the other cheek.

While I was working on this one, I read news reports that Turkey’s secret recording of the alleged murder include the sounds of Saudi agents cutting off all of Khashoggi’s fingers, while he was still alive, during his “interrogation.” That left me in cartoonist conundrum – should I draw the slapping hand with all the fingers removed? That would be hard to read, and most people wouldn’t know the story about Khashoggi’s fingers reportedly being chopped off. I went with the fingers still attached – after all, “we need to wait for the Saudi’s to conclude their investigation.”

Those Saudi royals make life tough for cartoonists too.

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Blog Syndicate

Come see my Lecture at CSUN on Monday

I’ll give a lecture at California State University Northridge (CSUN) next Monday (November 20th) from 4:30pm to 6:00pm at Manzanita Hall Room 213, on the west side

of campus. It is free, but visitors need to buy a parking pass at an information booth or at a kiosk. Anyone can come who wants to come.

This is being put on by the University’s student SPJ chapter; their journalism professor, Stephanie Bluestein, is my local Los Angeles SPJ Chapter Chairman. I’ll give a PowerPoint presentation with lots of cartoons, and I’ll talk about my work, how my syndicate works, and issues for editorial cartoonists around the world. There will be a one-hour lecture with a half hour of Q&A. The map of where to go at CSUN is below.

I don’t get out much so this is a rare opportunity to see the real me. Don’t be shy. Come on by.

Categories
Blog Syndicate

Melania Trump, the Media and Plagiarism!

I’m back from my brilliant cartoonist/journalist daughter, Susie’s wedding. I promise I’ll draw more cartoons. Really, I promise. I drew this one live on Twitch yesterday, about Melania Trump’s plagiarism of Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention in 2008. I don’t care much about this non-issue, but it makes for a funny scene, which is the extent of my take on this.

I know that the Donald is quite tall, but I feel compelled to draw him shorter, and I expect that the cartoons of Trump will grow shorter with time. Melania is a wonderful, goofy character to draw and I look forward to more of her! Readers might recognize my group of running media in this cartoon, which I re-use at every opportunity. I like the idea that the breathless media chasing down the next stupid thing is the same, over and over. In the video below see me drawing this one, and importing the media gaggle from a Cagle cartoon oldie.

In the next video below, watch me color this one in Photoshop while I chat with viewers on Twitch.

 

 

Categories
Blog

Answering a College Student’s Questions About Cartoons

Sometimes I get emails from college students who are studying editorial cartoons; they often ask the same questions so I thought I would post this recent response I wrote to a student.


Hi James,

Your friends who think editorial cartoons are a dying art form should be told that editorial cartoons are more important around the world than ever before, and with the internet we have a far larger audience than our predecessors who were limited to print.
1. How many hours of research go into each of your cartoons?
PencilSlingerSometimes I’ll look for photo reference for the art, which doesn’t take long. You can see the whole process in real time by looking at my videos on DarylCagle.com. I live-stream on Twitch when I draw each cartoon now. Each cartoon takes about six hours.
2. How much time do you spend reviewing the news everyday?
I usually read two or three newspapers a day and watch cable TV news. Probably three hours a day. I wouldn’t call this “research” and it isn’t related to a particular cartoon.
3. What are two things that make you different from other cartoonists?
The biggest difference for me is that I have more freedom than most cartoonists.  I own and run my syndicate (CagleCartoons.comPoliticalCartoons.comCagleWorld.com) so I don’t have an editor or a publication of record. My cartoons are distributed to about 850 subscribing newspapers, including about half of America’s daily paid-circulation newspapers. I don’t have to draw on the topic of the day as most cartoonist do, and I can maintain an irregular schedule, drawing on topics when a cartoon is needed. I don’t have to draw about the weather and celebrity obituaries as I did when I had an editor. The two differences: more freedom, no editor.
4. Who is your favorite person to portray?

Right now both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are gifts to cartoonists.

5. What experiences do you gain in traveling and how does traveling affect your work?

Editorial cartoons are much more important and more highly regarded internationally than they are in America. I am inspired by my brave colleagues around the world and it is great fun to meet them – especially those who put themselves at risk with their cartoons. In most of the world a cartoonist can’t draw the president of his own country or he’ll be fired, sued, beaten, jailed or killed. Friends of mine have been jailed by their governments and murdered by terrorists because of their cartoons.  I enjoy the best press freedoms in the world in America. I have it easy – I only get attacked by hackers.

6. If you could give one piece of advice to someone looking at a career as a political cartoonist what would it be?

It is the same advice I would give to any aspiring, young journalist. Newsroom jobs are in decline. New journalists and cartoonists need to create a place where their work is seen by a loyal audience on the Web; they need to develop a reason why their voice is important for their audience. Journalists have to be entrepreneurs now. The days of getting a job at a newspaper and having a big publisher take care of your career are gone. There are more opportunities now, and it is simplistic to look at the decline in employee jobs as a decline for the cartooning profession. It is a big, exciting new world out there.

I have more freedom and a much bigger audience now that I have not been working for a newspaper for over sixteen years. There is no single path for everyone, as there was in the days when making a career meant applying for a job at a newspaper.

About your project …  Think of editorial cartoonists as columnists who speak with images. We rarely see students analyzing columns because it is assumed that the columnist has clearly said what he meant to say. Cartoonists depend on their readers already knowing the news. Unlike columnists, we don’t convey facts; we convey simple, visual arguments. People cut the cartoons out to stick them on their fridge; they don’t do that with columns. Images are more powerful than words.

Cartoons are often analyzed by students because cartoons are on state mandated, AP Social Studies tests in 8th and 11th grade, in all 50 states, and teachers “teach to the test.” High school kids typically don’t think much about the news and often don’t have the background to understand what political cartoonists are drawing about. Cartoonists strive to make their points clearly, so the idea of editorial cartoons as puzzles that need to be solved and need an explanation or analysis is disappointing. If a cartoon needs to be explained, it is a poor cartoon or, more often, the reader is not well informed.

Good luck with your project!
Best,

Daryl

Categories
Blog Syndicate

Journalism and Cartooning Professions Race to the Bottom

Take a look at my editorial cartoonist/journalist daughter Susie’s project at Stanford about the future of journalism.

I think that as journalists (and cartoonists) work as freelancers for lower and lower fees, the respect and quality of the working relationships we have with our clients also declines – as Susie writes, a race to the bottom for our professions and ultimately for the quality of our work, and the quality of the media.

From Susie:

What is your journalism challenge? What problem are you working to solve?

Like every industry, journalism has a labor problem. As media companies have grappled with digital disruption, they’ve responded by cutting jobs and salaries, but not necessarily cutting “content.” That work has instead been assigned to a growing legion of freelancers and contractors — independent work that has always existed, but that has taken on a more vital role to the survival of many cash-strapped media institutions, both new and legacy.

With so many opportunities yet so few resources, freelancers are by nature pitted against one another in a race to the bottom. This doesn’t work particularly well for anyone: for editors, who need a consistent and high-quality pool of writing, staffers, who risk being undercut at their jobs, or readers, who want to support living wages for workers.

This is not to say that freelance journalism can’t work! But it can’t work like this.

How would solving this problem help journalism?

While the Internet has done much to lower the entry barrier to media work — which is great — it’s also lowered the standards of that work — which is not great. Many freelancers report that they receive little to no editing or fact-checking. In a race to pump out more “content,” this has the potential to result in huge errors — and to promote a different kinds of journalism altogether.

In an industry that prides itself on transparency and ethics, there are no standards as to how these workers or their work should be treated. Living wages and ethical work standards are in everyone’s best interest.

Who is tackling a similar problem and how is your approach different?

There are many efforts aimed at supporting independent workers across industries. Projects specific to journalism — such as ContentlyBeacon and WordRates — have largely centered on gig-matching, which has its own strengths, but does not address many of the issues facing freelancers.

A single tool or platform can’t fix such a complex problem. I believe organizing of freelancers is best done in small cooperative affinity guilds, where problems such as lack of administrative and legal assistance, libel insurance, press passes, and tools, and service fees can be better solved. The first step toward this vision is promoting more transparency and cooperation in a field that’s traditionally very individualistic and competitive. I plan to negotiate with writers, editors, and publishers to find common ground on these issues. I’m also talking to creators of digital payment and publishing tools about how those might better work for independent journalists.

What are the first questions you plan to pursue?

  • Is this employment shift in media to more contracts and fewer jobs actually indicative of and part of a larger shift in work across industries? If so, what does that mean for freelance journalists, and how might we work in solidarity with freelancers in other industries?
  • Who are the freelance journalists working in the U.S. today? Where are they, how are they working, and for how much?
  • In what ways does contract journalism work and not work for editors and publishers? How do they perceive freelancers? Who do they think we are, and how do they think we work?

What are the first steps you plan to take in working on your challenge?

I’m interviewing freelancers, editors and publishers about these labor issues and will be publishing some of that work on Patreon for my subscribers. Those funds will support some of my more ambitious plans for this project. The first batch will go toward making Who Pays Writers, a project of Manjula Martin and Scratch Magazine, into a searchable database.

Who Pays is an unmatched resource for freelancers — users submit not just rates, but also information about how long payment took, the terms of their contracts, and any other issues that arose. Overall, this data shows that there are no standard terms or rates for writers, even at the same publication.

We also have some more ambitious plans for using this data to better promote wage transparency.

Susie Cagle

Categories
Cartoons

This Means WAR

154086 600 This Means WAR cartoons

Categories
Cartoons

The Evolution of Apple Computer

The Evolution of Apple Computer Color © Daryl Cagle,MSNBC.com,Justin Long,PC vs Mac,commercial,Gizmodo.com,iPhone,police,evolution,Darwin,monkey,apes,stolen property,journalism,search warrant

Categories
Blog

The Future of Political Cartoon Syndication

I was asked to speak about the future of syndication on panels at the National Cartoonists Society convention this week and the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention in July. The subject is a burning issue for cartoonists ““ burning a hole in the wallets of many cartoonists, as newspapers seem to be fading away before our eyes.

by Dave Granlund
by Dave Granlund

The best-known editorial cartoonists have always been the cartoonists with the biggest list of syndicated client newspapers. Fifty years ago, when there were two or three times as many political cartoonists and the newspaper industry was thriving, newspapers would purchase individual subscriptions to star cartoonists from syndicates that were like cartoon boutiques with exclusive content. The cartoonist would mail his cartoon to his syndicate, who would print the cartoon on paper and re-mail it to all of the subscribing newspaper editors, in big envelopes stuffed with the other boutique, exclusive features that each editor subscribed to and slowly received, days after the news was fresh.

It would have been difficult for a cartoonist to self syndicate in those days because delivery and billing was a big job; there were efficiencies of scale for the syndicates, who had ambitious printing, mass postal mailing operations and sales forces that were constantly visiting editors.

In recent decades the individual sales have given way to “packages” of groups of cartoonists. It is cheaper and easier for an editor to subscribe to a group of cartoonists, with one monthly invoice for the whole group, than to keep track of individual subscriptions. By the 1980’s and 1990’s, competition between the packages had driven the prices for editorial cartoons down to alarmingly low levels, leading cartoonists to complain about the collapse of their profession.

 

In fact, it was almost impossible for a cartoonist to sell his own work to newspapers. If an editor could subscribe to the Copley News Service package of twelve great cartoonists for $24 per week, there was no sense in talking to an individual cartoonist about subscribing to only his work for $2 per week. The price for editorial cartoons had fallen so low that it would be embarrassing for an editor to even discuss price with a single cartoonist.

 

 

I started my little syndicate in 2000, at what seemed to be a terrible time, with ugly low prices and disinterested, unmotivated editors in an oversaturated market. But I had an edge; the other big syndicates were slow in transitioning from postal mail delivery to e-mail delivery, and had no download Web sites for their newspaper editors. I was the first to put up a nice download site, where the cartoonists uploaded their own cartoons, and the cartoons appeared immediately when they were drawn. We also delivered the cartoons by e-mail, and I assembled a group of great cartoonists to compete as a package, against the other packages. It worked and we built an impressive list of over 600 newspaper subscribers in the first three years. (Today we have about 900 subscribers.)

by Adam Zyglis

Now that newspapers are failing, circulation is dropping, editors are cutting expenses anywhere they can, and prices for editorial cartoons couldn’t fall any lower, the future looks even bleaker for political cartoonists. A few years ago it looked like the Internet would be our salvation. There are some Web sites that are good customers, but sales to the Web have turned out to be a disappointment. There is no culture of paying for content on the Web. Advertising with content on the Internet pays a pittance. The Web is a dud.

By Terry Mosher
By Terry Mosher

Many cartoonists thought that animated editorial cartoons would be our future. The Pulitzer committee certainly thought so, picking three animated editorial cartoonists as winner and runners up recently when animated editorial cartoons were on people’s minds. Some cartoonists do excellent work animating their cartoons, but with a handful of exceptions, there is no business plan in it. No matter how good the animated editorial cartoons are, they won’t work without clients who will pay for them. Some cartoonists stubbornly cling to idea that animation will be our salvation. I wish them luck.

We’re now seeing more cartoonists who are willing to work for free for Web sites, with the idea that this will somehow lead to a paying job. As editorial cartoonists are laid off from staff positions at declining newspapers, they continue to draw cartoons in syndication as they did when they had real jobs. Our profession seems to be transitioning into a hobby.

 

Ironically, political cartoons are now more popular than ever. We have a big audience for our Web sites. Cartoons still dominate newspaper editorial pages. Our annual Best Political Cartoons of the Year books are popular. High school and middle school kids have mandated state testing on political cartoons in every state and teachers teach to the tests, forcing millions of students to love our art form every night as they grind through their homework assignments.

 

The quality of work that editorial cartoonists are doing now has never been better. The product is great, the audience is there for the product, and the problem is the business plan.

 

What the Future Holds “¦

by Jeff Stahler

We see two big trends in our little business. First is the decline in newspaper clients ““ what used to be the whole reason for drawing editorial cartoons.

 

Second, we’re seeing growth in strange, oddball subscribers. Our new subscribers and pay per use customers come from all over the globe, like Southeast Asia, Arab countries, Eastern European countries, places we would never expect. And they are all different kinds of companies, including foreign newspapers, magazines, newsletters, book publishers, TV stations and oddball Websites. These are customers who find us because we’re easy to find on the Web (search Google for “political cartoon” or “editorial cartoon” and we come up first). Most of new customers are overseas, their numbers are growing and there are enough of them to make up for our losses in newspapers, keeping our little business stable and making us optimistic about continued growth.

 

The new, oddball customers have something in common, they don’t comparison shop, they come to us and subscribe or purchase pay per use. They don’t know anything about other online cartoon sources like stock illustration houses, or other syndicates and they don’t care; we have enough content that they can find something they like.

by Mike Keefe
by Mike Keefe

In the old days syndicates knew just who to sell to – they all sold to the same list of newspaper editors, in a limited market, so it made sense that each syndicate had exclusive arrangements with their cartoonists, to differentiate their content from their competitors. Now there doesn’t seem to be so much value in exclusivity. A number of our cartoonists are non-exclusive and some are sold in other online stores or are represented by other syndicates ““ we’ve never heard from new clients who have noticed that.

It would seem that the new paradigm is to think of a syndicate like a store. A store in a good location has lots of customers who find the store. A store in a poor location draws few customers. Stores in different locations draw different customers.

 

Cartoonists are like producers who create products to put in the stores. Cartoonists should want their cartoons to be sold in as many different stores as possible, because those stores now have different customers.

by Daryl Cagle
by Daryl Cagle

Exclusive syndication deals now have less value to the syndicates and tie the hands of the cartoonists. The new paradigm for editorial cartoonists is to be resold in as many ways, in as many places as possible.

I think this is a future that many cartoonists will find difficult to accept. Cartoonists have always been drawn to the idea that a syndicate is a benevolent Mommy, who will take care of all the nasty business stuff while they can concentrate on their creative work; this is a model that hasn’t worked for most cartoonists and is even worse now, but cartoonists keep coming back to it and keep signing long term, exclusive contracts with old world syndicates.

 

From the syndicate’s or “store’s” point of view, it means we need to find a way of presenting our product to more, non-overlapping groups of customers on the Web. We’ve looked at sublicensing our content to be sold by another store, like Cartoonbank, but I think there is a basic problem with that. Once we hit the point of having enough content so that a customer can easily find a cartoon he likes, there is diminishing value to adding more content, or cartoonists. Putting more content into a store that already has plenty of content doesn’t make for more sales overall in that store. We need more stores, in different wrappers, in different places, reaching more potential customers in different ways. That’s our plan now.

 

I would expect to see more cartoonists getting together to start their own online stores and syndicates as I did – as Malcolm Mayes did with Artizans, and as Sarah Thaves did with Cartoonistsgroup. The barriers to entry are low in the Internet age. It won’t work for self-syndicating cartoonists to call the same 1,500 daily newspapers who are sick of getting so many sales calls, but I expect that more cartoonists will lay claim to bits of the vast, odd and foreign client potential on the Web.

by Angel Boligan
by Angel Boligan

My advice for 21st century editorial cartoonists is: draw a consistent, steady flow of great cartoons that are not about local events, with a global audience in mind. Sign non-exclusive deals with as many syndicates, online stores and stock houses that you can find, around the world, and allow those “stores” to sub-license your work through other “stores.” Have your own Web site where your work is easily available to any customer who is interested just in you, and publicize your site as best you can. Manage your work as a database of all your work. Your product is all your work from past years, not just what you’re drawing today; and when you join a new online store or syndicate, bring all your past cartoons with you so that your archive is easily accessible and can continue to generate sales of second rights. Don’t accept long term contracts with syndicates, agents or online stores; always be free to move. And don’t rely on anyone to take care of your career, but you.

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I look forward to seeing some comments on this screed. I plan on putting this into our next Best Political Cartoons of the Year book, with some changes in response to the comments. Maybe I’ll include some of the comments in the book.

Thanks,
Daryl