The Sorensen Monologues

Archive for July, 2012

Editor: Comics help keep print readers loyal

In response to the recent Austin Chronicle story in which I was interviewed about the future of alt-weekly comics, an editor who publishes my work wrote me this noteworthy email:


I read the article about the decline in political cartoons in the alternative press, and as usual, there’s a tragic flaw in the reasoning for getting rid of comics to cut costs.

By dumbing down the print side of their publications, publishers everywhere are destroying their own industry.  If anything, the logical response to online competition would be to add *more* comics, columns and thought-provoking material to keep readers loyal.

We’ve taken that approach at Northern Express and the print side of our business is thriving.  For what it’s worth, we sometimes run more pages now than i’ve seen in the Village Voice, and our geographical area encompasses a population of under 300,000.

Meanwhile, the daily in our town has gone all-in with the online delusion and has gone from a staff of 12 reporters to 3.  What publishers don’t realize is that their online presence should be the gravy on the potato — not the other way around.

Thanks for indulging my favorite pet peeve.

Bob Downes,
Northern Express Weekly
Traverse City, MI

Well-put, methinks. To be fair, I understand that not every market is the same, and I know some editors have cut comics due to space issues when they truly didn’t want to. But considering that we live in an increasingly visual age, and political satire is popular, I suspect comics cultivate regular readers better than… well, a lot of other things.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Off-Target”

As soon as I found out about the Aurora, CO shootings, I began dreading the celebrity-level scrutiny of the gunman’s life. I mean, I have as much curiosity as anyone about what possesses a person to do such a thing, but is it really necessary to turn the news coverage of the incident into an episode of “This is your life, Mr. Shooter!” Personally, I don’t think photos of the suspect should be published at all. (See related cartoon from the Virginia Tech massacre, “The School Shooter PR Agency“; Holmes clearly falls under the “snapped nerd” category.) The right very badly wants to turn this into a matter of individual personality, but that misses the, uh, assault elephant in the room.

This week’s cartoon: “As the Mitt Spins”

Interesting questions have been raised about whether Mitt “retrocatively retired” from Bain so he could keep his wife’s health insurance coverage while she underwent treatment for MS. The Romney campaign won’t respond, which gives us a license to speculate. Of course, Romney is one of the few people who could actually afford to pay for MS treatment out-of-pocket. But given his aggressive efforts at tax avoidance, one suspects that he doesn’t like to part with money if he can help it. Unless he’s buying a car elevator for a ridiculous beach house.

Austin Chronicle article on altie cartoons

The Austin Chronicle recently spoke with Tom Tomorrow and me about the future of alternative political cartooning. Also includes my thoughts on Austin and a photo of me in front of some Futurama graffiti (Captain Zapp Brannigan’s crotch, to be specific.)

This Week’s Cartoon: “App-sessive Compulsive”

This cartoon probably comes off as more curmudgeonly than I am in real life, since I’ve been a little app-sessive myself lately. I’m a fan of Evernote, which I use to jot down cartoon ideas or information while I’m on the go. Recently, Evernote released specialized apps for remembering meals and people you meet, both of which I would probably find cool and useful. But then I got to thinking: how much time do I really want to spend interrupting life in order to peck away at my phone? Can one no longer enjoy an immersive experience with a plate of Drunken Noodles without getting all meta-noodly?

Okay, maybe I’ll make a note if they’re really good. But down that path obsessive content creation lies.

This Week’s Cartoon: “Wealthcare”

Last week’s Affordable Care Act ruling overshadowed the Supreme Court’s other recent doings, such as its reaffirmation of Citizens United as it smacked down Montana’s campaign finance law. If only the Court’s radical bloc cared about protecting ordinary humans as much as corporate campaign contributions. But here’s a thought: If corporate cash is the same as speech, then my health is also speech because being healthy allows me to speak. So anything that interferes with my health, such as insurance companies denying me coverage, is an affront to the First Amendment. Put that in your pipe of illogic and smoke it, Scalia!

Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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