Strike Two

1 Feb

If bad things do indeed happen in threes, I shudder to think what the next blow will be. In the same month as Diamond’s coup de grace comes the announcement from Village Voice Media that they will be “suspending” the syndicated comics in the fifteen papers they own. The move is supposed to be temporary until the state of the alt-newsweekly business improves, which is approximately never. It’s hard to imagine any circumstances, short of a violent reader revolt (note: do not attempt this) that will ever allow the alt-weekly publishers to reach a comfort zone where they can afford to bring on new expenses. The weeklies in L.A. are feeling noticeably thinner as of late.

As most of the affected cartoonists (Tom Tomorrow and Max Cannon among them) are quick to point out, the publishers are not the villain here. Just because the alts have traditionally leaned on strip club/escort ads rather than car dealerships does not mean they are immune from the seemingly irreversible death spiral of print journalism.

Perhaps cartoonists have it better than the music industry and the movie industry in that they have largely led a marginal existence, in both finances and artistic credibility, that the sea change of the last ten years does not represent a massive lifestyle readjustment that the Sumner Redstones and Clive Davises are facing. In the meantime, that’s likely cold comfort for the giants of alternative cartooning who are watching their primary source of income dry up overnight. Max Cannon’s highly personal “Apocalyse” post is a must-read for a creator’s take on it.

If this isn’t proof that something’s gotta give, what is? Are we waiting on a sign from God?

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