Matt Bors Quits Political Cartooning

The news that Matt Bors is quitting political cartooning (though he will continue to work as a comics editor and cartoon in other formats) is a sad statement about the state of editorial journalism. In his mid-30s, a great draftsman who has received some of the profession’s top prizes, including a Pulitzer finalistship, Bors represented a possible future for American political cartooning. The fact that he decided drawing political cartoons was no longer worth his time — it’s not hard to guess that, like the rest of us, he watched his cartooning paycheck dwindle away to almost nothing — reflects poorly on the hundreds of editors at newspapers, magazines and websites who, day after day, choose not to run political cartoons at all, much less hire a staff political cartoonist to add to their stables of writers. Many of these editors are going to wake up someday, realize that editorial cartooning is dead and gone, and wonder what happened. They should look themselves in the mirror.

I was editor of acquisitions and development at United Media from 2006 to 2009. I signed Bors for syndication, we became friends, went to Afghanistan together in 2010. Things got fucked up between us when the LA Times targeted me for career termination in 2015. I miss talking to him about comics and politics. He is a smart guy.

Because he’s smart I’m sure he will go onto many bigger and better things. But I have to marvel at the fact that no editor at a newspaper, magazine or website ever called him to offer him enough money to keep a guy this smart and talented and passionate drawing political cartoons. That’s weird and one of the thousands of terrible decisions and non-decisions that have nearly destroyed journalism in this country.

3 Comments. Leave new

  • alex_the_tired
    April 8, 2021 7:38 AM

    Ted,
    The disappearance of the cartoonists was the first obvious sign. I think they got cut shortly before the photo departments did.
    The papers now are like high-speed train derailments. The writing is inadequate. The topics are mostly drivel cut-pasted off government press releases and “anonymous” sources.
    The New York Times finished its mutation into a booster sheet years ago. It has become a pouting place for woke millennials from Generation Participation who, somehow, are still okay with the pretty much total absence of any class-based reporting. (But, thank rich white Jesus, the Times still dedicates a column to real estate porn – Tyler and Skylar want to get a starter apartment but only have a budget of $800,000.)
    The broadcast media has achieved the apotheosis of dangerous banality with Tucker Carlson and his ilk screaming thinly veiled racism and ignorance on the one side while, on the other, the clownish antics of a camera-mugging one-trick pony named Rachel Maddow and her batch of like-minded dipsticks whisper their homilies of praise to a democratic party that consists solely of multimillionaires who can only show restraint when it comes to doling out pennies for people in the middle class and lower.
    For what it’s worth, at least you haven’t sold out, and at least you haven’t lowered yourself to acting like a horse’s ass.

  • alex_the_tired
    April 8, 2021 12:33 PM

    Oh, and on a particularly grim P.S. Your site list of catoonists is mostly now dead links: Signe Wilkinson stopped doing her daily cartoon at the end of 2020. Jennifer Berman’s website is MIA. Scott Stantis appears to have disappeared from AL.com. Marginalia hasn’t been updated in four years. J.P. Trostle appears to be gone, too. Ed Stein’s work appears to have stopped in 2017. Ed Hall hasn’t posted since 2014. Cole Smithey, ditto, in 2018.
    As Alison Bechdel once said, the passage of time is almost unendurable.

  • Ted, Commiserations that you don’t get the larger audience you deserve. I am appalled at your number of followers on Twitter. It should be orders of magnitude greater just by accident. I’ve grown to abhor Ayn Rand and her capitalism. But she had this much right: a man is better punished for his virtues. Maybe you can find solace in that.

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