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THE FIGHTING 1099ers

Maybe it’s because everyone gets a little stoked at the annual conventions of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists, but we’d scarcely got back home, when a new drumbeat began. Someone remarked about the steady decline in full-time staff editorial cartoonist gigs that “the real bloodletting” began when family-owned newspapers disappeared: “the corporate takeover of newspapers with Wall Street applying its ‘maximizing shareholder value’ formula to the reportorial enterprise” effectively ended daily print journalism as a calling. It became, perforce, an industry that had to perform as all businesses do: it had to make ever-greater profits for its shareholders.

Some of us began casting a woeful eye, again, at the list — only a miserable 51 full-time staffers left of the 101 that were on the list in May 2008. That prompted a question about who, exactly, constitutes a “staff” editoonist. The answer is right out of IRS. If you receive a W-2 form from an employer for drawing cartoons, if you get sick days, vacation time, and possibly health care from that employer, you’re probably a staff cartoonist (assuming that cartooning is your primary duty). If you’re paid per drawing and you’re filing 1099 forms in April, you’re probably a freelancer (no matter how frequent your work is published).

Then came the rallying cry from “Kal” Kallaugher (that's him, down below): “Let’s make an alternative list of those who are making a living as a freelance editorial cartoonist (henceforth called the ‘Fighting 1099ers’). This may be the new norm. But don’t despair. There’s some exciting stuff being created out there in Freelanceville. Our profession is far from dead yet!” he finished, effectively becoming the first of the Fighting 1099ers.

Kal KallagherThen he started the alternative list by naming a dozen editorial cartoonists who make a living freelancing — starting with Pat Oliphant, who hasn’t qualified as a full-time staff cartoonist since 1981 (“but his employment status has hardly tarnished his standing in the profession”).

Others joined in, and in less than an hour, the list numbered close to 80. Add those to the full-time staffers and we get 130 still punchin’ and stompin’ editoonists.

Not a huge number, but editorial cartooning has never been a populous profession. And tripling the number of practitioners, putting freelancers together with staffers, gives us a roster resplendent with achievement and potential.

Right, Kal: we ain’t dead yet.

For more Rants & Raves with its comics news and reviews, gossip and cartooning lore, visit www.RCHarvey.com

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