Tulsa World: December 2005 Archives

My entry about the Tulsa World's legal threats against this blog and other websites is number 11 on BlogPulse's ranking of 2005's top blog posts.

A few items down is this funny bit -- imagining what the tech blog Engadget would have looked like circa 1985.

Beyond our Ken, again


I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the backlog of material I'd like to cover here, and I tip my hat to my fellow Tulsa Bloggers for their continuing coverage of all things local.

Ken Neal, editorial page editor of the Tulsa Whirled, has made some noise lately -- even more than usual. I was going to comment on some of his latest stuff, including a very funny little email he sent to the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition, but Dan Paden and Steve Roemerman have done a very fine job, so go read them.

I'm still wondering about something: News stories about editorial cartoonist Dave Simpson's dismissal a few weeks ago for a plagiarized cartoon that was published in July mentioned that the Hartford Courant, where the purloined cartoon was published, complained to an editor at the Whirled, who apparemtly didn't pursue the matter. Was Ken Neal the editor who let the ball drop? It would have been his department. Why is the Whirled so reluctant to name the editor who failed to respond to the Courant?

The Tulsa Whirled is advertising for a cartoonist to replace Dave Simpson, who was fired a month ago for plagiarism:

Unlike many newspapers, the Tulsa World is seeking a cartoonist. The Tulsa World is one of an elite few of daily newspapers that remain family owned. We believe the venerable political cartoon is, and should be, one of the most visible and popular parts of the newspaper. We have been advised to hire a cartoonist with the same careful consideration that we would use in selecting a new dog. Not that cartoonists are dogs, but both situations require mutual like and respect and long commitment.

Our requirements are simple: Our new cartoonist has to be a great caricaturist; be up to the minute on news developments locally and nationally and produce a funny cartoon at least five times a week, or at the drop of a hat. Now, that won't be too hard, will it? If you believe you measure up and will work for something less than an arm and a leg, (maybe an occasional bone), let us hear from you. We promise great working conditions, colleagues who like to laugh and enjoy their work, and a lot of ideas, most of which you can feel free to reject.

Please contact Laura McIntosh at laura.mcintosh(at)tulsaworld.com OR send resume, samples of work and salary requirements to my attention at the Tulsa World, 315 S. Boulder Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74103.

The ad appeared on the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists bulletin board on Monday, which happened to be Black Ink Monday, when cartoonists published cartoons protesting the decision of the Los Angeles Times and the Baltimore Sun, both owned by Tribune Corp., to lay off their cartoonists.

Simpson's cartoons were a highlight of the Tulsa Tribune, one of the ways the evening paper distinguished itself from the Whirled. (The Whirled had been without a cartoonist for as long as I could remember.)

Back in the '70s and '80s, Simpson could be funny. I have a paperback of his cartoons from the period and still get a chuckle out of them. When the Whirled killed the Tribune, they hired Simpson, but they seem to have put him on a short leash, and every cartoon reflected the Whirled's editorial line. A good cartoonist makes everyone look ridiculous, but Simpson, during his Whirled years, may as well have drawn a nimbus behind Susan Savage's head in every cartoon she appeared in. Not to make excuses for plagiarism, but I suspect working at the Whirled would kill anyone's creativity over time.

Many of the commenters on the EditorialCartoonists.com bulletin board think that the editorial cartoon has had its day. Laurence Simon posted this comment about the Black Ink Monday cartoon gallery. (He posted comments about the individual cartoons on his blog.)

Let's treat this gallery not as a protest, but a pop quiz. "Can you draw an editorial cartoon that's simple, effective, and conveys the message?"

Well, I've graded the class, and there's lots of C's, D's, and F's.

Most of the cartoons failed to convey the basic message, used pointless or goofy symbols that required labels to demonstrate what they represented, showed poor quality artwork, employed pointless dialogue, used a Boss Tweed reference most readers wouldn't understand, or engaged in non sequitur Bush bashing.

If columnists were to engage in such rambling off-topic and obscure activities, they'd find their space replaced with syndicated material and bra ads, too.

Other commenters point out that cartoonists will be more valuable to their papers if they adapt to new technologies (why not cartoon in color?), focus on local issues, and draw well and be funny. Pat Crowley, an illustrator/cartoonist for the Palm Beach Post, wrote:

With the internet ANYONE can be a political cartoonist these days. Your newspapers pay you to draw 250 cartoons every year. That gives you the edge over the internet. Are you using it? Are you a better cartoonist than you were last year? ... The art of editorial cartooning has deteriorated over the years and you can't blame it on the accountants. A lot of the work I see out there looks like it was executed- and written- in less than an hour.... When the editors start rejecting your work because it's too well-drawn, too timely, too local or too funny, you have a case.

A new cartoonist at the Whirled could be a great asset to the community, but not if he's restricted from making fun of the politicians and programs that the Whirled supports. If you're a cartoonist and want to work for a Tulsa publication that will allow you a great deal of creative freedom, you should get in touch with this paper instead.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa World category from December 2005.

Tulsa World: November 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa World: February 2006 is the next archive.

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