The golden age of editorial cartooning is over. Cartoonists are getting fired, dropped, pay cuts, and being disappeared faster than a Soviet official during the Stalinist purges. Several factors are contributing to the perfect storm. Newspapers and magazines are dying, which leaves less space and money available for cartoons. The digital revolution is bringing our work to more eyeballs but nobody has figured out how to charge for them. Book publishing, another source of revenue, is starting to dry up as well.
As the economy continues to sour, editors who should be branching out and experimenting are instead becoming more conservative. The edgier the content, the more dangerous it is. You can’t afford to lose an advertiser when times are this lean.
All this means that cartoonists who take chances stylistically and politically find their work in greater demand from readers but less demand from gatekeepers in the media.
At some point a new model will emerge. In the meantime, great cartoonists like David Rees (“Get Your War On”), Lloyd Dangle (“Troubletown”) and Mikhaela Reid (“Boiling Point”) are being forced to quit and search for other work because they can’t pay their bills.
Recent years have been devastating for me. In 2000 I appeared in Time, Fortune, Silicon Alley Reporter and P.O.V. magazines every month. (Each gig paid at least $750 a month.) I was in 140 newspapers. There were dozens of freelance assignments doing covers for alt weeklies, spot illos for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, and of course books. I was also a talkshow host in Los Angeles.
Between censorship and budget cuts I have been reduced to fewer than 50 newspapers. They each pay less than half of what they did before. I have no regular magazine gigs anymore. Radio? Forget it–now they want you to talk for free. Really. For exposure.
I’m trying to hang in there because I love what I do and I believe in what I have to say. If you can contribute and agree that hard-hitting political commentary can change hearts and minds and thus change the world, please consider making a contribution to help support my work. As a thank-you for your help I’m offering various gifts depending on how much you kick in:
$50 – signed rough sketch
$100 – signed copy of my latest book, dedicated to the person you choose
$250 – original artwork for a syndicated cartoon
$500 = artwork for five original cartoons, plus I’ll meet you for drinks in NYC
$5000 – artwork for ten original cartoons, plus I’ll fly anywhere in the continental US to meet you for drinks AND give a speech to a local group of your choice
Gamers are stepping up to support their cartoonists. Surely what we care about is at least as important as Dungeons and Dragons.
If you would like to make a single, one-time donation, please click below:
If you prefer to make a recurring donation in which you contribute the same amount each month, please click below. (It says “subscribe” but that’s just PayPal’s way of referring to recurring payments.) Please include your email address if you’d like to receive the Ted Rall Subscription Service (included).