Greenberg remembers Marlette

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One of my favorite columnists, Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, remembers editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette, who died last week in a car accident. Greenberg ponders the state of editorial cartooning and relays a pointed quote from Marlette about his profession.

Doug Marlette wasn't just a newspaper cartoonist but a newspaper critic in his way. In his memory, the rest of us in this business would do well to keep in mind some criticism he offered in an interview with Jeff MacNelly's daughter, Kristy Shumaker, when she interviewed him in 2003:

"We've bred this generation of Eddie Haskells, parent-pleasers, suck-ups, careerists that's hurting cartooning as well as newsrooms.... The irony is, readers are falling away, and newspapers can't figure it out as they reward blandness, homogenize the product, dull it down and drain all the humanness out of it."

Newspapers have a lot of competition these days, and have had since radio and television preceded the Internet on the scene. But we have no more serious threat than our own, fatal craving for respectability. Especially when it swells into pomposity. Or a fearful neutrality, as if we were afraid of taking sides. Doug Marlette didn't have any problem along those lines; he was willing to offend all sides.

Here's trusting that Doug Marlette isn't resting in peace at all, but still giving the haters hell.

Tulsa has plenty of pomposity, but the Whirled participates in it when it should be puncturing it. Someone once said that a newspaper's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Sad to say, Marlette's final employer has been getting that backward for the better part of the last 102 years.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 19, 2007 11:44 PM.

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