I wrote the post below last February in my Griffith Park Blog. It’s a popular post, so I thought cartoon people would like to take a look at it, too.
I just couldn’t believe this article in the LA Times and many other papers today.
But for one day.? this Sunday, nearly a dozen cartoonists of color will be drawing essentially the same comic strip, using irony to literally illustrate that point. In each strip, the artists will portray a white reader grousing about a minority-drawn strip, complaining that it’s a Boondocks rip-off and blaming it on tokenism. “It’s the one-minority rule,” says Lalo Alcaraz (La Cucaracha). “We’ve got one black guy and we’ve got one Latino. There’s not room for anything else.”
Or, as Darrin Bell says in Tampa Bay here:
Cartoonist Darrin Bell likes to call it the “two strip rule.”
It’s the trend he’s noticed while pitching his syndicated comic strip Candorville to newspapers across the country. Most newspapers, it seems, will make room for only two strips drawn by people of color, no matter the subject.
It does seem a little unfair, although the Times goes on to point out:
Still, others argue that it’s not that simple. For one, there are demographics to consider, says Rick Newcombe, chief executive of Creators Syndicate, (Hi, Rick!) which syndicates B.C., Herb and Jamaal, Working It Out and? Cafe con Leche.
“In defense of newspaper editors,” says Newcombe, “it’s only natural to buy [comic strips] according to categories. You might have one according to sports, or one according to office etiquette or work.
And some other syndicate editors remind us if one strip is picked up, another is dropped, the paper business is hard, yada, yada.
Immediately, I go to the LA Times to count strips (as if I haven’t done this before.)? …Hmm, the LA Times has three strips by cartoonists of color! The Times is ahead of the game!
And how about cartoons by women? Let’s see, two. Two strips by women, For Better or For Worse, and Cathy. Huh. Of course, there are several strips ABOUT women, but apparently women weren’t able to draw or write them. That’s peculiar.
9 Chickweed Lane – by Brooke McEldowney, a man with a girl’s name.
Sally Forth – by two men. You know, to get a “woman’s voice” just right.
Blondie – by two men. But they’re very sensitive men, I’m sure.
A dozen minority (men) cartoonists, but I can’t think of even 10 syndicated women cartoonists in the country, and this is my business! Oh, dear, [slap upside the head], how did I forget Six Chix, by King Features? It’s not in the Times, but it’s in Daily News, in close proximity (Update: Not any more, they dropped it.). King Features, the syndicate that figured one woman couldn’t carry a panel by herself, so it takes 6 (as in Six Chix) women, all patched and stitched together (one of whom is MARRIED to the King cartoon editor!!!), to make some kind of funny impact.
Did I make my point yet?
Hmm. Nothing has changed. Oh, For Better or For Worse is on hiatus, or retirement, or retreads, whatever they’re calling it now, so they are testing Between Friends, by Sandra Bell-Lundy for a few months. So, still only 2 women, 3 cartoonists of color (see, they can’t say minority cartoonists, because that would INCLUDE women). So cartoonists of color have more power and influence. Maybe affluence, too.
Say, that’s just how our recent election worked out, too!