Daryl isn’t a good cartoonist, and does not have the respect of his colleagues, yet he is an extremely powerful man in the profession. This is because his aggregated syndication package, Cagle Cartoons, is so cheap that it is sold to about 800 newspapers (out of 1400 total) in the United States, and also overseas. His blog, which encourages cartoonists to self-plagiarize, is widely read by younger cartoonists and very influential. So this sort of thing could easily catch on. After all, who wouldn’t want to double their marketshare with a few strokes of Photoshop?
Fortunately, the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC) will consider taking a stand against this sort of thing at its annual convention in Salt Lake City in June. A strong code of ethics will be discussed and possibly enacted. In the meantime, however, we are seeing cartooning at the precipice of disaster, commodifying a once-proud profession dedicated to political ideas into a meaningless pile of plug-in-your-own-beliefs garbage.