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D.C. newspapers have devoted less space to comics in recent years.

Ladies and gentleman,

As we take stock of this great nation of ours, it is evident that one group is suffering—-a surprising group given its mission. Cartoonists are under siege in this great capital of ours.

If we examine who was appearing in our newspapers in May 2007, the last date we have statistics for, we find a relatively thriving local market. A look at January 2010 shows a much-diminished field.

Using an unscientific scale of one point per cartoonist and one per syndicated page of comics, let’s take a look at both dates.

MAY 2007

Washington Post (15 points)

  • Tom Toles: editorial cartoonist (semi-daily)
  • Richard Thompson: Richard’s Poor Almanac (Saturdays); Cul de Sac strip (Sunday’s Magazine), illustrations for Joel Achenbach’s “Rough Draft” column (Sunday’s Magazine) (three points)
  • Rob Shepperson, Tim Grajek: illustrations for Sunday’s Business section (.5 points)
  • Nick Galifianakis: cartoons for Carolyn Hax‘s “Tell Me About It” advice column
  • Bob Staake: cartoons for “Style Invitational” contest (Sunday Saturday)
  • Patrick M. Reynolds: Flashback comic strip; unique Washington version (Sunday comics)
  • Eric Shansby: illustrations for Gene Weingarten’s “Below the Beltway” column (Sunday’s Magazine)
  • Christopher Gash, Christoph Niemann: spot illos, especially on Sunday
  • Michael Cavna: editorial cartoons in Arts section, extremely irregularly (.5 points)
  • Julie Zhu: Montgomery Blair High School student cartoonist for “Extra Credit” column in local Extra sections
  • Saturday box of syndicated editorial cartoons
  • Turkish cartoonist Selcuk Demirel illustrations in Book World, semi-regularly
  • Two pages of syndicated comic strips
  • Two Sunday sections of comic strips

Washington Times (four points)

  • Bill Garner: editorial cartoonist
  • Joseph Szadkowski: “Zadzooks” column on comic books (Saturday)
  • Large array of editorial cartoons and illustrations every day
  • One page of syndicated comic strips

Washington Examiner (daily, except Sundays) (one point; had already dropped three pages of comic strips by this date)

  • Nate Beeler: editorial cartoonist (semi-daily); alternates with syndicated cartoonists.

Washington City Paper (Friday-only paper) (seven points)

  • Shawn Belschwender: “News of the Weird” column illustrator, unique to WCP
  • Ben Claasen III: Dirtfarm comic strip, unique to WCP; advertising illustrations
  • Joe Sayers: thingpart comic strip
  • Slug Signorino: “The Straight Dope” syndicated column illustrator
  • Robert Ullman: “Savage Love” column illustrator, unique to WCP
  • Max Kornell, Josh Neufeld: article illustrations
  • Syndicated comic strips: The City by Derf, Red Meat by Max Cannon, Ernie Pook’s Comeek by Lynda Barry, and Lulu Eightball by Emily Flake. (Ted Rall was dropped earlier in 2007)

Express (two points)

  • Eric Reece: illustration for Baggage Check advice column (Tuesday)
  • Six syndicated comic strips

Washington Blade (two points—-one for editorial and one for strips)

  • No regular cartoonist. Runs one syndicated editorial cartoon and six syndicated strips—- Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel, Jane’s World by Paige Braddock (2002 strips), Chelsea Boys by Glen Hanson and Allan Neuwirth, Troy by Michael Derry, Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast by Greg Fox, and Adam & Andy by James Asal.

The Hill (one point)

  • Chris Weyant: editorial cartoonist for Weyant’s World.

The Politico (two points—-they run cartoons on the front page)

  • Matt Wuerker: editorial cartoons, column-heading caricatures, maps.

The Onion (national, not local content) (2 points)

  • Sean Kelly: fictional editorial cartoonist; actually by Ward Sutton;
  • Syndicated strips: Postage Stamp Funnies by Shannon Wheeler, The Leftersons by Colin T. Hayes, Wondermark by David Malki, The Spats, Cathy by Cathy Guisewhite (in Spanish) and Red Meat by Max Cannon

Total: 35 points

**

JANUARY 2010

Washington Post (12.66 points)

  • Ann Telnaes: animated editorial cartoons on Web site) (one point)
  • Tom Toles: editorial cartoonist (semi-daily) (one point)
  • Richard Thompson: Richard’s Poor Almanac (Saturdays); “Cul de Sac” strip (Sunday’s Style section, only in color sometimes) (down to 1.5 points from three—-we’ve not seen RPA this year)
  • Rob Shepperson, Tim Grajek: Gone? (zero points)
  • Nick Galifianakis: cartoons for Carolyn Hax’s “Tell Me About It” advice column (one point)
  • Bob Staake: cartoons for “Style Invitational” contest (Sunday Saturday) (one point)
  • Patrick M. Reynolds: Flashback comic strip; unique Washington version (Sunday comics) (one point)
  • Eric Shansby: illustrations for Gene Weingarten’s “Below the Beltway” column (Sunday Magazine) (one point)
  • Christopher Gash, Christopher Niemann: spot illos especially on Sunday (one point)
  • Michael Cavna: blogging at “Comics Riffs” (one point)
  • Julie Zhu: Montgomery Blair High School student cartoonist for “Extra Credit” column in local Extra sections (one point)
  • Saturday box of syndicated editorial cartoons (one point)
  • Cartoonists in Book World: section dropped (zero points)
  • Two pages of syndicated comic strips, drastically reduced in size (.66 points)
  • One Sunday sections of comic strips (.5 points)

Washington Times (one point)

Washington Examiner (daily, except Saturdays) (one point)

Washington City Paper (Friday-only paper) (3.5 points)

  • Slug Signorino – “The Straight Dope” column illustrator
  • Ben Claasen III – “Dirtfarm” comic strip, unique to WCP; advertising illustrations
  • Occasional illustrators such as Robert Ullman for articles
  • Rhode’s comics articles (one point)

Express (1.33 points)

  • Ben Claasen III: illustration for “Baggage Check” advice column (Tuesday)
  • Two syndicated comic strips (Pearls Before Swine, Pooch Cafe).

Washington Blade (zero points): out of business

The Hill (one point)

The Politico (two points—- they still run him on the front page)

The Onion (national, not local content) (.166 points)

  • “Sean Kelly” editorial cartoonist (missing for all of January 2010);
  • Syndicated strips: Red Meat by Max Cannon (loss of five other strips).

Total: 22.656 points

We are only 65 percent as good as 2007. In just two short years, we have lost an astounding 35 percent of our weekly comics content. While we have gained the regular cartoons of Ms. Telnaes and the blog of Mr. Cavna, that has not been enough to offset the drastic losses we have suffered. This cannot stand, and this shall not stand. I am immediately proposing a Works Progress Administration-type stimulus package to keep our nation’s cartoonists dutifully employed in keeping our citizens entertained. Thank you and good night.

Above: Photoshop wizardry by William Atwood Mitchell