Nothing in recent years has made me miss newspapering more than reading the obituary for legendary editor Ben Bradlee, who guided the Washington Post through the glory years of American journalism. I was lucky enough to have worked for a pretty good daily paper during a part of that era.
Alas, that time has passed. Editorial cartooning, my profession for 31 years at the Rocky Mountain News, has lost much of its potency, as newspapers decline, as publishers have become wary of controversy and as the internet and cable television have given rise to other voices satirizing politics in more immediate and visceral ways. Jon Stewart would have a been a terrific editorial cartoonist had he been willing to work for a frightened publisher at a dying newspaper for a whole lot less money and exposure (assuming he can draw).
I gave up editorial cartooning a few years ago, and I’ve now quit drawing my comic strip; for the first time in 45 years, my work no longer appears in a newspaper. I’m both sad about that and relieved. One thing newspapers are short on, especially these days, is space. It was always a rare newspaper that was willing to give over expensive newsprint to extended cartoon storytelling, and with papers shrinking, those precious square inches are even harder to come by.
The internet, on the other hand, allows us ink-stained wretches virtually unlimited real estate. We’re not confined to one small drawing a day.
Which is why I’ve decided to start telling stories the way I’ve always dreamed of doing, unconstrained by the limitations of space and looming deadlines. I’ll post the first Sleeper Ave. stories soon. I hope you enjoy them, and that you’ll take a few seconds to sign up below to receive them as I post them.