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CSotD EXTRA: Comic Fans Need to Step Up Now

I’m going to assume Francesco Marciulano’s Ted Talk is for social media and not an official Sally Forth strip, but so much the better and good for him.

I’m going to take it a step further and say that the only good thing about Lee Enterprise’s announcement that they’re pushing their local comic book pages into the corporate cookie cutter is that they held the announcement right after the National Cartoonists Society held its annual convention, otherwise it might have looked like The Masque of the Red Deatha glorious festival of doomed celebration amidst a veil of surrounding death.

But it’s not a joke: there are designers who will now have to put their pen aside and support their families.

How many? I do not know. For some, above all, it will mean returning to a more bourgeois, perhaps even working-class way of life, and that’s a shame, but that’s the way it is.

However, I remember when 100 items was the breaking point, and specifically I remember a cartoonist telling me that he had finally hit 100 items and now he could quit his day job and focus on comics.

These people will be gone. Solid gone.

There won’t be a sudden avalanche of disappearances, but over the next year you can expect to see some cartoonists give up the fight. Bands you love will cease to exist.

What can you do there?

First, stop acting surprised. Pearls Before Swine recalled this in 2006, and my favorite part of this tape is how Rat the Owner berates readers for not appreciating what he has done.

Which goes along with Ted’s advice to contact your local newspaper. He’s certainly right, and if you subscribe to a Lee newspaper — here is the list – you need to let them know that you are not happy.

Note, by the way, that they call them “brands” and “platforms”, not newspapers. This is an indication of the value they place on the concept of the local newspaper.

Ted Rall was more specific in his critique and assessment of the importance corporate vultures place on the actual product and the people who buy it.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make the effort to let them know you’re unhappy, and I would add this: if you’re wondering why you’re paying so much for what used to be a newspaper and is now reduced to a brochure, maybe this is the tipping point that finally makes you cancel.

Complaints are important, but cancellations are logged in spreadsheets, and spreadsheets carry more weight at head office. Well, sometimes, which is better than never.

Here is what makes no difference: silence.

So what gives me the right to speak?

On the one hand, this is not new to me. When I was around 20, my dad and I took a walk around the lake at home, and he told me how a “leveraged buyout” meant the new owners of the business had debts to settle immediately. , which meant that they would take the richest seam of iron in our mines, leave behind the average quality products and shut down our town in about 10 years instead of maybe 30 or 40.

Leveraged buyouts were a big deal 50 years ago. Today, it is assumed that the new owners are incurring massive debt which will trickle down to the unfortunate workers. My father had the courage and the audacity to step up and resign rather than participate in the murder of our town, but they found others and it happened anyway.

Which left me well placed to contemplate the cookie-cutter management I encountered in the newspaper industry, once the vulture capitalists started circling.

The product does not matter. Whether it’s iron ore, newspapers, toothpaste or chewing gum, it doesn’t matter. This is the stock price. No one tries to leave a successful business to their children anymore. The goal is to leave them with a portfolio of valuable stocks.

The companies involved have nothing to do.

Someone said the other day that companies are expected to make a profit and therefore editorial decisions should aim in that direction.

First of all, duh.

Second, though, is that the editorial department knows all about marketing, and their decisions have more to do with split infinitives than getting people to buy the damn newspaper.

I’m saying that as someone with half a century in media, about half in copywriting and half in marketing, including having completely redone a comics page, daily newspapers and Sundays.

I have seen all aspects, I have worked in all departments of the industry. I dwelt in the belly of the beast.

Those coming to the AAEC convention in Columbus next week can find out more. I prefer porter or stout, and if you keep coming, I’ll keep telling stories, because, boy-jayzus, can I lay out the details when the lawyers won’t listen.

In any event.

I don’t know how cartoonists will react to an industry that despises its readers.

But I do know this: if you claim to like comics, you need to support two websites:

cartoon kingdomhome of the King Features Syndicate, which is currently offering one month free, after which it’s $29.95 per year.

And GoComics, which also has a special, and only costs $19.95 per year, which I mention second because they are technically my bosses.

Now, let’s be honest: no one will get rich with this.

But, on the other hand, cartoonists won’t get anything out of you by subscribing to a sad newspaper that doesn’t carry their work at all. Plan your expenses accordingly.

Plus, that five dollar half cappuccino coffee every morning is a hell of a lot over $50 over a year. If you consider yourself a coffee lover — or a monkey lover — good for you.

But if you consider yourself a comic lover and always copy your comics for free, maybe you don’t like them that much. Or maybe you haven’t given things much thought.

Drop this note to the folks at your local newspaper. Now. Not tomorrow. Not later. Now. Today. Now.

And if that includes a cancellation, so much the better. Get their attention.

In the meantime, if you like comics, if you’re not just bullshitting us, subscribe for both cartoon kingdom and GoComics then pick a few cartoonists you are willing to support and support as well.

But, if not, don’t insult us by telling us how much you love comics.

No one wants to hear that half-ass, weak-kneed Freddy shit anymore.

Daniel K. Denny