Washington City Paper recently saved $8,000 by dropping all of its syndicated comics, the Chicago Reader's Michael Miner reports. City Paper still carries one local strip, "Dirtfarm," only because author Ben Claassen lets the paper run it for free. "City Paper feels like family to me," Claassen tells Miner by way of explanation. But Lynda Barry, who quit her "Ernie Pook's Comeek" strip, and her friend Matt Groening are feeling less familial these days about their former alt-weekly clients. Nevertheless, Groening keeps plugging away, creating "Life in Hell" every week even though his success with The Simpsons has left him financially secure. "I like sitting down once a week and knocking something out all by myself," says Groening. "The rest of my life is full of collaborators."
The San Francisco Bay Guardian executive editor offers his take on the deal announced last week that will merge the Cleveland Free Times and Cleveland Scene under new owners Times Shamrock. He wonders why "VVM couldn't create a monopoly, [but] another newspaper outfit apparently can." He's referring to when the Justice Department nixed a similar 2002 deal between New Times and Village Voice Media (then two separate companies) that shuttered the Free Times. Justice forced the sale of Free Times to a group of investors, and the paper reopened in May 2003. "I'll leave it to you to speculate on why we couldn't do this deal, but Times Shamrock could," VVM executive editor Andy Van De Voorde says. Redmond says the Justice Department has yet to respond to his request for comment.
The staff of the St. Louis alt-weekly was unable to attend when the three-year old, River Front Times, made his debut March 18 at Fairmount Park. "If we'd been able to go, I'm convinced we would have cheered him on to victory," Editor Tom Finkel tells AAN News. "But we also probably would have bet the odds down and no one would have made any money." Former staff writer and racing aficionado Mike Seely convinced the horse's owner to change his name from Pollys Jaybird last year as long as the paper paid the $100 name-registration fee. The staff is planning to attend River Front Times' next race in full force. "As usual, the hopes of our company ride on a longshot," adds Andy Van de Voorde, executive associate editor for Village Voice Media.
Greg Mitchell's Thursday column on EditorandPublisher.com describes Louis Black's role in financing and producing Be Here to Love Me, a new documentary about the late singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Black was personally acquainted with Van Zandt, and describes him as "usually pretty fucked up but very friendly." The Chronicle also printed a cover story about the film; Black says that "if the staff felt it was a conflict of interest, believe me, I would have heard about it." Be Here to Love Me has been well-reviewed for its warts-and-all portrayal of Van Zandt. Black is now working on a book about the films of Jonathan Demme.