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This Modern World Needs Your Help

03.11.09

Dear Friends,

We all know the economy is bad and likely to get worse in the days ahead. I’m sure you know people who’ve been affected. I want to tell you about a friend of mine who recently took a huge hit, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, creator of “This Modern World.”

In January, Village Voice Media, the largest group of weekly newspapers in the country, indefinitely suspended all syndicated cartoons. In a single day, Tom’s strip was cut from 12 papers. Obviously that means a loss of income for him. Perhaps even worse is the lost connection to readers who faithfully turn to Tom and his sardonic penguin Sparky to help them survive the absurdities of the world around us.

Political cartoons have a powerful history in the United States. Many cartoonists were the Jon Stewarts of their day, quickly cutting complex issues to their cores. Decades before the Revolutionary War, Ben Franklin sketched a disjointed snake to rally the colonies to unity, creating a lasting symbol of the time. Herb Block’s incisive visual commentaries played a significant role in the public perception of Watergate. Alt-weeklies have provided a home to some of our finest subversive comic art, from Bill Griffith’s “Zippy the Pinhead” to Simpsons-creator Matt Groening’s “Life in Hell.”

Cartoons are a great deal for alt-weeklies: they provide some of the least expensive and yet most popular content. Many times you have picked up Seattle Weekly, the Village Voice, Minneapolis City Pages or LA Weekly – just some of the Voice Media papers – and turned right to the cartoon section. Now that has vanished.

The only way this vital artwork will return is through a sustained outcry from readers. We have to tell editors at our local alternative weeklies that we don’t want them to suspend cartoons; if they already have, we want them brought back. When you write, please be polite and respectful. Many of the editors at these papers are friends of the cartoonists we’re supporting – after all, they’re the folks who gave the cartoons a home in the first place. Suspending the work was a corporate decision made during incredibly tough times for all newspapers.

So send an email, write a letter, make a call, and then ask your friends and families to do the same. I appreciate your help very much – and so does Tom.

-Ed

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Comments

And let's not forget about all the unemployed people in general that took a hit in this economy... teachers, fireman, construction workers, auto workers. Let's show them some love too!

Ed is friend.

its ashame my kids are seeing this thing unfold like this....even if its one voice, I am glad to see Ed take notice and do something to help, alot of things are going away faster than I am ready to see them go like this

I've never seen Tom's cartoon, but it is a shame that we are losing those basic forms of entertainment that are both under-appreciated and often overlooked. The future of weekly and daily printed newspapers is grim. I wish these folks luck. Times are tough. :(

Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow

Gonna rise up
Burning back holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold

Gotcha ed!

i work in the newspaper industry creating advertisements to run in our local paper... we've had many meetings about the economy and how it's effecting our place of business. we just went from being a 7 day a week newspaper to 5 days a week... I still work 40 hours and such but many newspapers around the country are feeling the blow to the economy, every department... it's sad that cartoons are being scraped from a lot of papers... especially ones like Tom Tomorrows, which has a lot of substance and importance... unlike crappy cartoons like Ziggy and Cathy that just take up space... I can talk to my editor personally about perhaps picking up Tom's cartoon in our local paper... I'm not sure what good it would do or how he would even get paid for it but I can look into it.

Here's an interesting interview with Dave Astor, about what's been going on in the mainstream media, to cartoonists. This has implications for alt-media, as well.

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2009/01/talking-comics-with-tim-dav...

What I found most interesting in this interview was that Astor hinted that if 90% of readers who enjoy political cartoons contacted their newspapers to say so, then bosses wouldn't be so quick to sack cartoonists (which they might do, through a lazy fear of upsetting business people or the odd disgruntled reader). I'm thinking: if people-power could, as Astor suggests, save the jobs of cartoonists in the mainstream, then imagine what a lot of love from alt-media readers could and would do, especially with the editors of alt-weeklies ideologically on their side.

Good luck to Tom!

I will spread the word, thanks.

there are no words for how bad it is right now..God bless Tom & all

hey eddie, can you write a note on your website for me too??? i was laid off from two companies over the last 7 months.

but yeah, sucks for your cartoonist friend too.

Paying Cartoonists isn't what is bringing newspapers down, its the fact that anybody on the planet can view most newspapers free of charge. Hey newspapers, you don't need to layout out everything on a website and not charge anybody but advertisers. Whats the difference if you have 10 viewers or 500,000 viewers if none of them are paying?

Bring back the cartoonists!!!!

Thanks Ed. Thanks for bringing light to these situations.

But common! Aren't ya going to throw us a bone while you're on here? Let us know whatcha guys are worken on?????

I'll do what I can Ed. Thanks!

Thx EV

It's a number of things really... As far as online goes, most high-tier newspapers have pay sites to access the news... some lower tier town newspapers have sites that have full content available, others do not, however... to be honest, the internet and newspapers go hand in hand, if not for the daily editions in print, they would have no online content. Many newspapers are still strategizing how to make the internet work FOR them and not against them...

But the internet is not what is killing the newspapers.... The main thing is that advertising is at an all time low... this is a direct reflection of the economy and other things like the piss poor housing market... Many advertisers are either not running at all or buying up smaller space than what they normally would... all papers around the country are feeling it. Also, the fact that the cost of newsprint has skyrocketed in the last year, going up by 42% and that's not good at all, obviously.

As a result, the non-essential content is being cut from newspapers (comics, entertainment guides, etc) to keep cost down... However, most of this content is what gives the papers some appeal and flair, if you will.... Without this content in the paper many customers are cutting off their subscriptions, which effectively helps the paper LOSE more business. Now we're starting to see many newspapers either closing shop due to astronomical debt or cutting back the frequency of publications. It's a shitty cycle.

Luckily the company I work for is family owned and hasn't solved their problems by laying people off... we scaled back the number of days that we publish and have cut costs that way to stay afloat... plus another local paper has recently closed down, which helped us out in the long run because now our paper is the only option people have for advertising in our area.

Will do all in my power. Let's not forget ALL that are struggling, but try and forget the mistake that put us here.

tough times but in obama we trust!!!

Ed... how do you always pick such cool things to care about? I used to work for SF Weekly and the Cartoons were some of the only things I read in the paper I worked for. I'll fire off a note... but only because Ed asked me too. They are more FORMER employer and I now work in internet sales so to see the papers struggle hasn't been the worst news for business for my company. But competition is good and everything Ed has said is correct.

Thanks. Writing a courteous note now.

We can only work together to get this whole mess corrected... STAND TOGETHER FELLOW AMERICANS AND BRING THIS COUNTRY BACK UP TO ITS BEAUTIFUL PROMISE IT STANDS FOR!!! GOD BLESS THE USA!!!

Ed,

Done, sent a letter to each of the papers.

Rob

Email sent to Village Voice.

Even if you have never read them, which I hope isn't the case, send an email, it will take 5 minutes. If I lost my job and a group of people could get my life back in order by communicating, I would pray they did.
I'm in Ed...
Brandon

Hey, thanks for telling us. I didn't even hear about that. It's true, the cartoons are something to enjoy while other stuff in the newspaper is rather depressing. It's sad that cartoonist are considered 'non-essential'.... I think that creating a cartoon is a work of rather high level because you have to say a lot with just one picture. These are really bad times...

There may have been a time when i might have said"When one door closes,another one will open" It seems now days many doors are closing and there is a lot of fear that the doors may be shut for good. I could sit and cry how the recent turn of events has affected me and my family but then i come across a story like this and realize how fortunate my family is.So, yes i will do my part and make my calls and write my letters and try not to sit and wonder what sacrifices the decision makers are not making.The great thing about cartoons is they remind me not to take myself too seriously . Thanks Ed ...Conductor Brian from Philly

There may have been a time when i might have said"When one door closes,another one will open" It seems now days many doors are closing and there is a lot of fear that the doors may be shut for good. I could sit and cry how the recent turn of events has affected me and my family but then i come across a story like this and realize how fortunate my family is.So, yes i will do my part and make my calls and write my letters and try not to sit and wonder what sacrifices the decision makers are not making.The great thing about cartoons is they remind me not to take myself too seriously . Thanks Ed ...Conductor Brian from Philly

HI THERE,,IM IN NGREECE AND I DONT KNOW WHERE TO SEND MAIL OR LETTER..PLEASE HELP ME BY SEND ME INFORMATION,,THANKS ED FOR DOING THAT,,ILL BE GLAD TO HELP..

Until last Friday, I worked in the newspaper industry as a multimedia reporter. I use the past tense because I was laid off.

I feel Tom's pain and will help.

I am forever thankful for the depth, intelligence, creativity, diversity and generousity of the Pearl Jam Community. It is good to see this forum generate these kinds of discussions and support for important concerns, especially in such a crucial time of exponential change and incredible opportunity. I'll keep Tom and his family in my prayers and send a thoughtful note to the newspapers too.

Ed, thanks for sharing this space with us in a personal way.

Peace,
Molly

a few dynamics are going on here...

1) much of the country (mostly Republicans) are "discretionary illiterates." they love and prefer the simplicity and passiveness of uncritical, unsophisticated and vapid media. why do you think AM talk radio and Fox News are such a revenue bulwarks? as Mr. Tomorrow points out - its opinion driven rather and information centric. and one's conservative ideology is never challenged or proven invalid. why read a 77 page report on global warming authored by the IPCC when Sean Hannity can tell me all i ever need to know about science and interdependence? why watch an investigative piece about the Iraqi refugee diaspora - when Ann Coulter can tell me everything is going "swimmingly?"

2) much of the media is profit-driven or producer-driven. there has been a terrific degeneration of news gathering and reporting of events within the last 20 years. the entire industry must A) meet a bottom line B) sell advertising C) attract eyeballs. D) fit time constraints. nightly leads include...car chases, sexy tot moms gone crazy, celebrities without make-up, college co-eds on spring break and a diner in the midwest that built the world largest grilled cheese sandwich. welcome to the United States of ADD. This Modern World is usually read and metabolized in more time than it takes to stare blankly into your cell phone or iPod.

3) the perpetuation of "the myth of the liberal media." im assuming this goes back to the My Lai revelations and the disclosure of the Pentagon Papers. stick Sarah Palin in front of a crowd of Christian supremacists and Nobel Laureates in Consuming and all she has to say is, "..The New York Times." the entire zombie crowd will boo and hiss for 10 minutes. these hillbillies think any institution that threatens the status quo or the image of the prevalent, dominant Western economic power structure is an enemy of the state.

4) how many of you receive a daily newspaper? if youre over 55 years old.. im going with "yes." do you go out of your way to pick up a weekly newspaper in an urban area? im guilty too. its all free on the internet.

dcfaithful brings up a valid point.

Though this is a noble cause, let's not forget the many jobless individuals in our respective communities.

Ed's statment is not one just to help Tom Tomorrow, it's a statement to get everyone here realize that the economic state of this country is affecting people on an individual level. It puts a face on the news story.

I imagine everyone here would have a similar mission if it was their friend who had lost their livelihood.

Every face you see in the unemployment line is somebody's friend. And there in the same boat here.

There are several businesses in my community hit by these tough times as well that have chosen to stay afloat by sending individuals packing. Then there are some who chose to voluntarily take pay cuts on their yearly salaries to avoid such a measure.

Take what you can from Ed's statement, but don't let it stop at newspapers. Understand that there's more to it than that. And that is what Ed is trying to get everyone to understand using a personal story.

I'm very sorry to hear this about Tom. Thanks for making us aware of the situation. (I love penguins too!)

Now, I have a reply to westy123's age related comment about 55 year olds or greater reading the paper. What is your source? Did you take a poll? I happen to see my much younger than 55 year old husband reading our old fashioned (subscribed) news paper which we receive about 4 days per week. He enjoys doing their crossword puzzles as well. He also reads our free papers.

However westy123, I'll give you an "A" for your 2nd dynamic noted.
You hit the nail on the head.

Done.

Thanks Ed for the 411. I will submit a letter to my paper which is the Chicago Tribune (they suck)! However, let's not fool ourselves, we save or bring back the cartoonist then someone else in the newpaper industry will loose their job. The corporate office will just cut from another department. Its the all mighty dollar and maintaining a profit.

Edward,

I just wrote four letters to congress yesterday about the $50 bil Maddoff stole. I might as well keep writing while im still pissed off....

I'll write the letters to the editors if you sing and record Johnny Cash's cover of Trent Reznor's "HURT" on next years holiday single.

To those of whom are getting old...er and measure your mortal existance, that songs sums it all up.

The political cartoonists in the U.S. are a NATIONAL TREASURE. Story tellers in their own right.

Dont worry Tom and Company that craft you do will remain.

Glenn

"Does anyone remember laughter?"
How can they take away the laughter when the news is so damn bad...
Save Sparky! Save The World!!

Petition has begun...

Amen to all that! I'm in Australia and would love to send a mail, but unfortunately don't have the email addy. If someone can post it then I'll send a mail. Another great cause for Ed to care about, wish we had Ed in Australia, you Americans are so lucky in that respect. Pearl Jam are the greatest band ever with their concern for what's going wrong with the world and the efforts they put into conserving the environment. I myself come from a background where we actually care and think about how we could be best preserving this planet because my brother is a scientist and has a job where he is able to educate/influence pollies on what's occurring with greenhouse gases and climactic change, he has travelled all over the world with his profession and he and Pearl Jam together influence me so that I think about it more.

Sue

That was such a genuine and articulate letter, Ed. I see that Tom appreciates that as he just gave you a nod today on his blog.

He is truly lucky to have a friend standing up for you and asking others to do the same.

I am just deeply disappointed that no one stood up for my husband, Bobby. Especially disappointed in his close friends at his work who wouldn't defend him - but in private, they give him moral support. *snorts*

Everyone at his work knew Bobby’s business before he did and he had to get it out of one of his best friends to confirm that he was on the list for layoff. One person even smirked and his supervisor being in “an unusual good mood” that very day.

Bobby gave all he could on that job – always took the time to help others in trouble and fixing their machines when they were afraid to ask the leaders. Yet, he was harassed and back-stabbed in a demoralizing environment where he had to constantly look over his shoulders. People he has trained got promoted and turned against him. But he never stopped what he was doing – because he believed that you treated others what you want others to treat you.

Why he didn’t just quit – you may ask. It’s always the same thing at every shop, he says.

Twelve years and it’s not the layoff that bothers me…because I’m glad he is not in that environment, but because of how ugly these human beings really are – thriving on conflicts and causing misery for others.

Thanks for letting me rant here…but I am very glad that Tom is getting support from his REAL friends.

Times like this, you know who your real friends are.

Good luck, Tom!

Peace,
iammine

Ed,

One of the papers asked me if they could print my letter...maybe someone's listening?

Rob

What about incorporating some of Tom's stuff into PJ's new release? a nice litle add-on comic book style? Don't know if it will "fit" with the tunes you guys are working on, but it could help put some $$ into his pocket and those who can put the book together...and we'd love to check out more of Tom's stuff.

I also work for a newspaper. We all are down sizing more then 70%. I myself will be layed off in a matter on months. Its sad but no one is reading the papers. Save the newspapers of America. Subscribe today!

Sad but true, if we're gonna go forward as a race we need to offload some stuff that is unnecessary, stop wasting paper and burning fuel and so on. There seems to be nobody reading newspapers, so why fight it? It is clearly becoming an outdated media. Sorry, but that's the way it seems, even if we are bound to lose relevant and meaningful things like cartoons and sudoku.

Shame about the cartoon guy, but he's a drop in the ocean and at least he had a reasonably good job before he lost it. I'm sure plenty of people out there would love to have had his salary; some factory workers were struggling to pay the bills before they got laid off, now they are truly ******.

Dear Ed and Tom and all who are listening, Just an idea, A comic book or strip.. Maybe bi-monthly small subscription fee... with the possibilty of a contest once a month submit your Pearl Jam concert story to be illustrated by tom... the content .... a dedicated PJ fan and his adventures or miss adventures interacting with other characters on a PJ tour we have all been there, things that mad you laugh, situations that have pissed you off..just plain stupid bad luck or good luck the shirtless drunken asshole standing in front of you screaming PEARL JAM I LOVE YOU EDDIE just an example but think about it, we have all had experiences like these good and bad funny and sad.... lets not forget our cast of characters on stage... jeff climbing a locked fence to skateboard etc. theres a lot of stuff there, and we can all relate to its relativity..... when i read a cartoon such as Toms thats what I like about it so much it portrays how i feel or am thinking at the time..... the storys and the messages are there... and we could see and share them with all thru the eyes and ears of this Pearl Jam fan character Lets call him PJ Dirtbag (just a poor example) thats my idea i hope you get it..... Just Trying to Help . The Train Conductor from Philly

I sent a letter to the editor to the Seattle Weekly, but I puzzled over the coporate honcho list for Village Voice Media and I could not, with all my corporate background decipher who at corporate to pester, does anyone know? I saw one poster sent their letter all the papers, is that best? For you guys off shore just seach for Village Voice Media on your computer, google etc., and you get everything. Its narrowing it down to the most effective place for my letters that has me stumped a little. I read and liked the Seattle one, may keep reading. I still buy newspaper esp. for local news as we have no TV station even though we are a State Capitol. But since I spend so much time online and TV news I dont read it all, and reycle it under my guinea pigs, then the whole mess goes into the compost, mmmmmm veggies. I need cheap ways to grow after I lost a high paying job in 1998, never found anything even close as my experience and job title doesn't match my education. Sandy, now retired

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/comic-riffs/2009/03/bbbbvveeeeeehhhh.html
we gotta think outside the bag

'btw how do I get my old screen name back?

You might go to the AAN

The merged company, which will continue to use the name Village Voice Media, is effectively an acquisition by New Times, whose current shareholders will own 62 percent of the new company and hold five of nine board seats.”
New Times CEO Jim Larkin and executive editor Mike Lacey would be in the drivers' seats of the combined operation. ....

This form allows you to search the staff lists of every AAN-member company. If you are looking for a specific person, type their name in the open field and click submit. Alternatively, if you want to browse the lists by member type or job classification, select at least one criteria from either group and click submit.

https://secure.aan.org/alternative/Aan/PeopleDirectory

THANK YOU On2Legs!

if you fret about cartonn columns falling, the bigger concern should be the issue of newspapers in general falling. The one form of media that has any integrity left is fading faster than the Backstreet Boys in 2002.

Catoon column, opinion column, and every other column you can name is fading, & I think it's simple minded to focus on just one aspect of what makes up a newspaper.

Your gripes are justified, just, please, put them in perspective.

I'm more than sure Eddie knows the ills around him and in the greater world, but like I said in a earlier email..I believe he is helping out a friend...Eddie, I can't send an email, but as always, I have your back with support for your cause

I heard today on NPR that the Seattle PI distributed its last newspaper in print. After today they will go to an online format. With newspapers disappearing, like the Denver post recently, or going to electronic format as the PI, there will be even less media outlets for political cartoons like Tom's. There will have to be other outlets for their art. Whatever those may be, like a comic book as others have suggested, will have to be explored for the survival of these artists and their work. I wish them the best of luck.

Such an eloquently written and thoughtful article! A great microcosmic example (here, the cartoon which, as Ed points out, is quite inexpensive to produce when compared to other portions of a newspaper) of exactly what is going on from industry to industry - across the board.

Ed’s words here also point to the fact that although dramatic changes are taking place we shouldn’t automatically fall prey or accept the ‘everything must go’ approach and therefore risk overlooking the important work by some of the real arbiters of, and for, free speech, change, and goodwill.

Tom Tomorrow's scenario also somewhat points to the words of Marshall McLuhan said: “the medium is the message.” In this case, no matter how bad the economy tumbles, and continue to tumble it will for now, we can’t - or perhaps shouldn’t - let the very individuals who provide us with alternative perspectives and points of view lose voice. And, therefore, the ability to share their unique, or “sardonic”, message(s) simply because the medium that normally funds them is flailing financially.

We should instead do the opposite! Otherwise we’ll have mediocrity. This is exactly where and when society needs out-of-the-box, clever, and irreverent commentary - like that presented in the works of Tom Tomorrow! In other words, the essence of Tom’s work is quite possibly needed more now than when the said 12 papers were able to (financially) rationalize carrying it. Ah, the irony.

Again, great piece… Thanks Ed!

I too have to give my heart to all of us struggling with todays economy, after all these cartoon enable us to " get away " and laugh.

I just received a response from Tony Ortega at the Village Voice saying that the cancellation of Tom Tomorrow's is temporary and the cartoons will be brought back soon!! GOOD WORK GUYS!

(is this what it feels like to be "the grounds for 50 million hands upraised and open toward the sky")

Fantastic you got that response jamlreap! Awesome!

Whooohooo! Now subscribe please. = )

I agree.

While I wish an email/phone call will help, it won't. Newspapers are dead. It's times like these that makes us innovative. Tom is creative and will find a way to get his cartoons read by fans. If not already in the works, perhaps a book deal, web site, art show in DC. He should be fine.

Hey everybody, without history how would you know who are we, who we are. All I'm trying to say is if everyone sticks together and helps we can accomplish anything:)

It's important to realize the impact of one's voice during matters like this. Not to have a mentality of "well what can I really do?". With your help...it turns into our help...and so on. Im in!

Ed -
Thanks!
You find a way to throw some light through the fog!
Keep it up, Bro!
Every bit of positivity right now pushes us all in the right direction.
J

Sorry - I would rather lose cartoons from my news than lose content to be honest! Every company feels the struggle in these times, cartoons don't really tell a story, they just compliment it. I can make the satire in my own mind for now!

Support all artists, they find it hard enough for people to take their work seriously even in the best of times. Ed is right, support his friend, even if you can support one person in ur community this will at least add revenue to the economy even if it is just one person. We all have at least one person who has been affected tremendously by this global affliction brought on by the teiraney of selfish fat cats etc..

Support just one person whoever they maybe in your community, if we all did that think of all the numbers of people around the world that could be helped at any one time. This goes for the hungry, homeless. Think big, start small.

R