OC Weekly Brings Back 'Red Meat' Comic; Derf Goes Hollywood; Matt Groening talks to Pasadena Weekly about the end of Life in Hell; and Jen Sorensen tells the Austin Chronicle, "You need to be a certain kind of masochist to be a political cartoonist."
Cartoonist and illustrator Jen Sorensen, whose "Slowpoke" comic strip graces the pages of several alt-weeklies, will receive a James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism -- specifically, the Cartooning with a Conscience Award -- next month. The Aronson award honors "journalism that measures business, governmental and social affairs against clear ideals of the common good," and Sorensen will be the first woman to receive the cartooning award. "Word that I'd won the award came at a time when I was feeling distressed about the future of political cartoons and news media in general, so it was very much a welcome ray of sunlight," she says. "Being the first female cartoonist to share this particular honor with the likes of Tom Tomorrow and Steve Brodner is especially cool."
The uphill battle that female cartoonists face is the main topic of discussion in Daryl Cagle's two-part video interview of alt-cartoonists Mikhaela Reid ("The Boiling Point") and Jen Sorensen ("Slowpoke"). "Maybe women are just too smart to get into a profession that's in so much trouble," Reid says before adding: "But I really think that's just not it at all." They both say that within the alt genre, the male cartoonists have been "totally supportive" of female artists and also briefly touch on the mainstreaming of alt-cartoonists within the cartooning world and state of the alt-weekly industry. Sorensen says she's lost about one-third of her clients, but she remains hopeful. "The well-run alternative newspapers will survive," she says.
In this weekend's Washington Post, the "Slowpoke" creator talks about how she got the idea to do a strip on how our irony-drenched culture will handle the economic downturn. Sorensen says that a number of readers tuned into a "tiny background gag" -- a billboard advertising The Grapes of Snark -- and told her they thought it was the funniest part of the strip.
Tom Tomorrow broke the news yesterday on his blog that the ailing economy is forcing Village Voice Media to suspend publication of syndicated cartoons "at least through the rest of the first quarter, and quite possibly beyond." City Pages editor Kevin Hoffman tells the Minnesota Independent he expects some reader backlash, but says the suspension is part of an effort to "trim where we can while inflicting the least damage -- realizing that we're already cutting bone." MORE: Syndicated cartoonists Jen Sorensen and Derf weigh in.
Ted Rall, who is president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists president, has written an open letter to the Overseas Press Club of America president over an increase in the awards entry fee from $150 to $175. Rall accuses the organization of using the fees as a "revenue enhancing" operation at the expense of "beleaguered cartoonists," and says that at least 11 cartoonists will not enter the contest this year. The list includes other alt-cartoonists Mikhaela Reid (The Boiling Point) and Jen Sorensen (Slowpoke).
The creator of the AltWeekly Award-winning comic strip "Slowpoke" has just released her latest book, Slowpoke: One Nation, Oh My God!, which collects her comics and commentary from the past four years. The book also features an introduction by Ruben Bolling, creator of "Tom the Dancing Bug." Sorensen is currently touring the West Coast to promote the book, and will hit the East Coast next month. This week she'll be in Berkeley and Portland -- check her site for details.
Jen Sorensen's comic strip, Slowpoke, has moved a bit away from social commentary in the past few years to be more political. Her ideas come from, among other places, progressive blogs. She describes here how she draws her cartoon, what inspires her and the creative process. This is the eighth in a "How I Got That Story" series highlighting the AltWeekly Awards' first-place winners.