News Corp cartoonists disappointed at News Corp Australia decision to cancel comic strips – ABC News

News Corp cartoonists disappointed at News Corp Australia decision to cancel comic strips
For the latest flood and weather warnings, search on ABC Emergency
Rifling through the newspaper to dig out the comic strips will soon be a thing of the past.
News Corp Australia has announced it will be dropping cartoon strips from all its mastheads from September 11.
The decision by News Corp has disappointed cartoonists who said comic strips were relevant and a way for generations to bond.
Australian Cartoonists Association president Cathy Wilcox said there were readers of comic strips who bought newspapers for them and relished turning the pages to the funnies section.
"It's been a lifelong habit and it's something that still brings joy," she said.
In the days before smart phones, kids and young people would flip open a paper to read comic strips like Blondie, Calvin and Hobbs, Garfield or The Phantom.
For many it was their introduction to the daily news cycle.
Beyond the Black Stump cartoonist Sean Leahy, who has drawn for the Courier-Mail since 1985, said there were still young readers despite a decline in newspaper sales.
"If you want to hang on to young readers comics are an introduction to the paper," Mr Leahy said.
Ms Wilcox said without comic strips many young people would miss out on exposure to the news.
"Comics were my entry point into newspapers, this is what taught me to love them and then go on and read other things," she said.
"I was lucky to have a dad who liked to read these comics to me. That was our little thing."
Mr Leahy said the paper giant could still publish comics on its webpage.
"It's gobsmacking to me really, it doesn't cost the newspapers much to run them, why wouldn't they keep them digitally," he said.
"It's almost impossible to make a living in Australia out of comics if that's all you do."
He said it cost very little to use a comic in a newspaper because the market was flooded years ago by American comics such as Hagar the Horrible and Calvin and Hobbs "which set the bar really low for prices".
He said US papers still published large supplements of comic strips with dozens of pages of cartoons.
"US papers actively cultivate new comics and trial young comic artists, there is an interaction with the reader," he said.
"Here comics seem to be stuck away near the obituaries and forgotten about until they get their own obituary notice."
Swamp creator Gary Clark said there was space for a modern take of the digital version of comic strips in papers.
"Sometimes you have to stop things to re-invent them," Mr Clark said.
Ms Wilcox said many artists would be left without a steady income after the News Corp decision.
"A lot of these people have been doing it for quite some years and are older practitioners, they don't have somewhere else to go," she said.
"You can put your stuff on your social media account but that doesn't bring in any money unless you have a crowd funding arrangement."
Mr Leahy said he believed a completely independent business model would emerge in which artists made money not just from the art, but also the merchandise and adverting space.
"We're using multiple channels like YouTube and Instagram," he said.
"Like a lot of these things it is tragic now but within five years comic strip artists who are resourceful could actually end up being better off but there is going to be a couple of years of pain first."
Mr Clark said the speed of the decision to cancel comic strips surprised him.
"I think it was a very sudden thing, I was caught of guard and others were too," Mr Clark said.
He said papers still needed comics as readers loved them.
"I'm sure News Corp have done their research, but there are a lot of innovative thinkers among cartoonists and I know they are thinking about what they can do with them," Mr Clark said.
Ms Wilcox said she thought the news media company had made a knee-jerk reaction.
"I wouldn't give credit for there being a great deal of thought," she said. 
"I don't think it's going to be a massive saving."
A News Corp Australia spokesperson said in a statement the company's editorial cartoonists remained as loved and valued as ever and continued to play a critical role in print editions and increasingly in its digital growth strategy.
"The decision to end comic strips reflects the changing readership habits of our audiences and this is why we are increasing our focus as a business on puzzles, games, and crosswords, which is highlighted by our recent launch of Brain Gains," the spokesperson said.
"It also reflects a worldwide trend where the audience for comic strips has moved to movies and events rather than newspapers."
Additional reporting by Sacha Hamilton-Maclaren and Jennifer Nichols.
ABC Sunshine Coast will deliver a wrap of the week's news, stories and photos every Wednesday. Sign up to stay connected.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)

source

Leave a Comment