My Essay on "The Way the Future of Political Cartooning Wasn't" (Herblock Foundation Report)
The Herblock Foundation has a brand spanking new whitepaper out on the state of political cartooning called "The Golden Age for Editorial Cartoonists at the Nation’s Newspapers is Over." Too true.
The whitepaper (which you can download as a PDF here) contains a glum survey and a depressing collection of essays by a wide range of cartoonists, including Clay Bennett, Ted Rall, Jen Sorensen--and yours truly.
Here's a quote from my essay, which is untitled in the collection, but which I like to call "The Way the Future of Political Cartooning Wasn't."
The future of political cartooning I imagined in 2001 was already a far cry from the future of political cartooning in 1981. My fellow 20-something alternative cartoonist friends and I didn’t even vaguely aspire to comfortable drafting-desk staff positions at daily newspapers with reasonable salaries and health benefits. The Pulitzer Prize application just seemed like a waste of money.
Our model was self-syndication in the alternative weeklies. We looked to Ted Rall, Keith Knight, Alison Bechdel. We’d pay our inky dues, toiling in the Bristol Board — or Wacom tablet — trenches. We’d work day jobs. By night we’d comb through news sources and write and draw and write. Sleep was for suckers.
We’d market ourselves with clever self-promotional packets mailed regularly to hundreds of alternative and niche publications. We’d blog and send e-mail newsletters, and we’d draw attention to our cartooning book collections at comic conventions with big vinyl banners and brightly colored tablecloths. We’d sell T-shirts and stickers to our legions of super-dedicated online fans.
Our aspirations were modest. Maybe one day we’d quit our day jobs and squeeze by on a low five-figure income. Or if we were already squeezing by fulltime, maybe one day we’d be able to afford — gasp! — basic health insurance.
That's one of the least sad bits. Download the whitepaper PDF to read the whole thing.
Yeah, um... Happy New Year. And stuff.
P.S. If you want a more thorough sum-up of my 2011, it's over here at my sewing blog Polka Dot Overload, but I do warn you that it is mostly about babies and sewing and not political cartoons or politics (except for a mention of me getting laid off from the cartoon syndicate United Media when they outsourced all our jobs to Universal Press Syndicate).