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SUSIE on the PLASTIC CRISIS

My brilliant cartoonist/journalist daughter, Susie Cagle writes today about her work and one of her most popular stories for The Guardian newspaper. Please visit Susie’s page on Patreon to support her and cartoon journalism.  From Susie …

For the last year, I was the West Coast climate and environment reporter at the Guardian. It was an unusual mix for a staff position at a news outlet, allowing me to do both traditional written journalism as well as cartoons. My first piece for them was a huge comic exploring the massive amount of plastic waste humans have created.  

This comic was exceptionally successful — shared around the world, translated into at least five languages and used in education programs in at least three countries (as far as I know). The Guardian chose it as one of their top stories from 2019.

But it’s the kind of story that’s rarely able to exist, because of the journalism industry’s constraints and expectations. Comics journalism is super popular, but also super labor intensive and super time-consuming. Even the editors most enthusiastic about this still emerging medium often don’t totally understand just how much effort it takes to do two jobs, as both reporter and illustrator. Outlets are reluctant to spend much on cartoons — and even less on comics journalism.

Now that I’m working as a freelancer again, support from readers through Patreon bolsters my ability to keep doing these kinds of projects. Thanks for learning more about my work, and I hope you’ll consider becoming a patron!
Susie Cagle

See Susie’s story about about food workers in the pandemic!

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My Favorite Cartoonist/Journalist!

I’d like to introduce everyone to my brilliant cartoonist/journalist daughter, Susie Cagle. Unlike the cartoons that everyone is used to seeing on Cagle.com, Susie’s work is non-fiction; she does original reporting in cartoons.

Cartoon journalism is still pretty rare, but it is very effective, especially for making dry topics more interesting and adding some feeling and humanity to stories where text falls flat. And as photojournalism has been made more difficult in our current strange circumstances, cartoon journalism works even when access is difficult. I’d love to see publishers embrace more reporting through cartoons.

Susie freelances from her home in Oakland, California for many major publishers. Here are links to more reporting gems that Susie did for The Nation, WNYC in New York, The Guardian newspaper and another one for The Nation. She’s busy while she’s sheltering in place and I’m delighted to write that she’s expecting a baby boy in November, who will be my first grandchild.

Susie is hoping to earn support from fans on her Patreon page! I encourage everyone to take a look, to see what’s new from Susie and support cartoon journalism! Look below for three excellent, pandemic cartoon interviews that Susie did recently for The Guardian newspaper and visit Susie’s Patreon page to see more.

Support Susie and see more of her work.


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Garage 8: More!

Here’s a magazine cover from 1988 that shows younger me and my daughter, Susie Cagle. There are some things I’ve posted here on this cover, the Keds snow boot in the lower right; the Enesco Piggy Cleopatra mug in my hand; the Hasbro Classic Kermit plush box in the lower left, and the animal library poster, which was brand new at the time, behind my head. I was so young!

Here’s a catalogue cover for the toy/gift company “Hog Wild” that I did a lot of art for, back in the day. They had a little, black, wire/magnet character that was pretty cute.

Here’s a better pic of that Milton Bradley box cover.

This is the cross-sell on the back of a blister card.

 

I used to do a weekly sports comic strip that ran in USA Today for a time. These were ads for Sega Sports. Sorry they are so wide – so they may be hard to read. Open these images in a new window to see bigger, more readable versions.

Here’s more of those skeleton soldiers. I think these are for cards.

This magazine cover is from way back in 1984.

This old magazine cover for Scholastic is from 1980.

This Scholastic magazine cover oldie is from 1979, soon after I moved to Manhattan to be an illustrator, right out of college.

This one was somehow for Pepsi’s ad agency, but I don’t remember how it was used.

Here’s the line art for my Muppet Babies Mattel See ‘n Say.

Here’s the line art for the Zoo Keeper Mattel See ‘n Say. I have the product in my garage somewhere.

 

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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

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Columns, Pirates, Brilliant Daughter and More More More

Someone tweeted this disturbing, altered, pirated cartoon to me.  PriateCartoon
It is disturbing to have my work pirated like this – but I’m not sure it is copyright infringement, since it has a different message and there are probably enough changes to qualify for the legal standard of “fair use” as commentary. Also, removing my signature from the art removes an argument that the art defames me. Still, it is rude. If an editorial cartoonist did something like this the AAEC would be calling for his head. Here is my original drawing …

Here’s some more miscellany – I thought this column from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune was very nice.

My charming and talented daughter, Susie, had an exhibition of her work recently in San Francisco. These are watercolors she did as part of her cartoon-journalism coverage of the Silk Road trial in New York City.

Susie is up for an award from my old partners at Slate, for this piece from Al Jazeera America.

Here’s a nice photo of a section front from the weekend before last in the Augusta Chronicle, from my cartoonist buddy, Rick McKee.

That’s enough errata for now!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hebdo Miscellany

Yes, it has been more than a week since I have drawn a new cartoon. There’s too much on my plate, sorry; I’m trying to keep up. Here are some recent miscellaneous items.

My cartoonist-journalist daughter, Susie, posted this excellent column about Facebook and other tech companies and their hypocritical “support” for cartoonists and press freedom issues.

I just read that the national cartoon museum in Belgium cancelled their Charlie Hebdo tribute exhibit at the last minute, after it had already been installed and before it was open to the public, because of security concerns. That is sad.

StJustMuseumCharlieHebdo
This is the current view of the front entry of the cartoon museum in St Just le Martel, France, where they are currently installing our Charlie Hebdo cartoons exhibit.

 

DarylGroup
From left to right, Gerard Vandenbroucke, convention president, Georges Wolinski, who was murdered at the Charlie Hebdo offices, cartoonist “Aurel” who won the cow the year before me, and me. Happier times only last October

Want to read my Charlie Hebdo column in French? Here it is.

My business phone call voice mails go to a voice recognition line where I get an email of the phone message in text. I thought I would share this one that just came in, for a taste of what my typical phone calls are like …

“Hi my name is XXX XXXXX. I’m not sure how far you guys go your political cartoons but here’s a couple of ideas present Obama sitting on the toilet reading the Koran with the US Constitution roll of toilet paper. President Obama on the golf course with a bunch of crucified Chris’s son-of-fair-fairway(?) in the stadium quote the Bible says just play through the only Christians or grant(?) a baby close to the dj(?) and he walking out the door is away-but(?) I had a busy going you-recipe(?) and have a little Obama has-members-because(?) because he’s leaving. So just some food for thought food for thought. Thanks.”

CocoCartoon
My French cartoonist friend, Coco, posted this cartoon to social media. She was injured in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

An update on our hacker attacks, they are continuing, but we have Cagle.com up and relatively stable. Every so often we’re still going down, or we have some odd tech problem that crops up, we appreciate your patience.

Below is a cartoon I drew a while ago that has found new life in social media recently, with the incessant drum banging from Fox News over terrorism recently. With the economy in good shape I expect that fear mongering over terrorism and ISIS will dominate the upcoming Republican presidential primary fight.

 

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Susie Cagle on Cartooning the Occupy Movement, Being Arrested

Last week, my daughter Susie Cagle, a journalist and cartoonist, sat down with Cartoonist Rights Network International’s Executive Director, Robert Russell, to discuss how she was wrongfully arrested twice by Oakland, California police. In fact, a charge from her first arrest, failing to leave the scene of a riot, has never been dismissed by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.

Susie also talks about the state of media, and how paid reporters who have been laid off have been replaced by citizen journalists, individuals who are personally passionate about the topics they’re covering and documenting, which allows police and government officials to ignore their rights as journalists.

“The mayor of Oakland in February or March, called them fake journalists, fake media, and we need to figure out a way to separate them from the real journalists,” Susie said. “It really goes to show a deep misunderstanding of what’s happening in media right now.”

And here are some of Susie’s drawings. To see more, visit her Web site or follow her on twitter @susie_c.

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Occupy Oakland Drawings

My daughter, graphic journalist Susie Cagle, has posted a new series of drawings from Occupy Oakland, which she has been covering for various media outlets.

“Occupy Oakland has captured the nation and even the world’s attention at times,” she writes on Truth-Out. “But those times have not been for Occupy Oakland’s thoughtful direct actions or peaceful marches, but instead for the brutality of its suppression by police.”

 

Click here to view all of Susie’s drawings