Syndicates: A Rare Hire in Biz of Editorial Cartoons

By Astor, Dave | Editor & Publisher, January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Syndicates: A Rare Hire in Biz of Editorial Cartoons


Astor, Dave, Editor & Publisher


Add "rarity" to the two R-words in Ron Rogers' name. He became a staff editorial cartoonist at the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune late last summer even as jobs in his profession continued to dwindle. Rogers was hired by the Tribune after turning 50 -- an unusually long wait for someone to land their first editorial-cartooning post. And he's one of the few African Americans ever to be a staff cartoonist at a general-circulation daily.

Rogers doesn't offer a definitive answer about why most editorial cartoonists are white, but he does know that being African-

American has some effect on the topics he chooses and the way the resulting cartoons come out. For instance, there was a stark poignancy to his work after Hurricane Katrina, which hurt blacks in disproportionate numbers.

"Ron is always aware of diversity. The characters in his cartoons are more diverse than in other cartoons," said Tribune Managing Editor Tim Harmon.

"I try to be a little different," Rogers agreed, adding that he reads black publications and black Web sites most other editorial cartoonists probably don't see.

But Rogers also scans general-interest sites; reads papers such as the Chicago dailies and The Wall Street Journal; watches Fox News, C-Span, and other TV fare; and reads many history books -- including Doris Kearns Goodwin's recently published Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

"Ron certainly doesn't draw just black issues," said Harmon.

Rogers, 51, usually does three editorial cartoons a week -- but that's only about 25% of his total Tribune output. He also does a collection of mini-cartoons called "Rewind: The Week in Review" and illustrates various stories and columns for the Sunday newspaper.

"It sounds like a lot of work -- and it is," said Rogers. "But it's fun." He added that he learned to draw quickly while working as a graphic artist and designer for various other newspapers before coming to the Tribune. …

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Syndicates: A Rare Hire in Biz of Editorial Cartoons
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