Robot 6

Tom the Dancing Bug dropped from Salon.com

Thrilling Tom the Dancing Bug Stories

Thrilling Tom the Dancing Bug Stories

Cartoonist Ruben Bolling took to his blog today to reveal that the online magazine Salon has canceled his long-running political/editorial comic strip Tom the Dancing Bug.

According to Bolling, the comic was canceled due to “severe budget constraints” rather than lack of traffic — indeed, as Bolling points out, Tom is frequently one of the site’s most-read features. He later added that Salon, which had hosted the strip since the site’s 1995 inception, seems unlikely to reverse the decision regardless of reader outcry.

I’m sure Tom Spurgeon will have further analysis, but even for someone with my casual dislike and distrust of all political cartooning, the cancellation seems notable for two reasons. First, Bolling is an obvious talent whose imaginative end-runs around the cliché-ridden visual vocabulary of your average political cartoonist made his comics that much more entertaining and his points that much more hard-hitting. Second, it’s almost creepy to think that editorial cartoonists may have just as hard a time making a go of things online as they do amid the staggering carcasses of America’s newspaper industry.

At least he’ll have an easier time getting health care.

(via Greg Pak)

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Comments

10 Comments

“even for someone with my casual dislike and distrust of all political cartooning”

I’m sorry if you’ve explained this elsewhere, but… why come?

Too bad, it’s a great strip.

Sean T. Collins

March 22, 2010 at 4:14 pm

Corey: In general, I think the task before political/editorial cartoonists is to take complex issues and boil them down into simplified, simplistic…well, whatever the visual equivalent of a “soundbyte” would be, usually in such a way as to communicate solidarity with people who already agree with the cartoonist’s take on things and shame/mock/irritate those who don’t. In other words, what we condemn TV talking heads for doing, we praise editorial cartoonists for doing. I think there are MAYBE half a dozen artists in the history of the form who are exceptions to that rule.

So we know that the other cartoons on Salon can’t be paid anything much, if they’re ditching one of their most popular features for budgetary reasons. I suppose I’m with Sean, as a rule, about editorial cartoonists. They either can’t draw or have nothing to say besides “the other side is evil.”

This is terrible news. Tom The Dancing Bug is one of the best features in Salon. Where will we go to read about the adventures of God-Man now?

Still, Ruben Bolling is extremely talented, so it probably won’t be long before he finds a home somewhere else for his work.

Thanks for responding, Sean. I guess I tend to see it more as using satire/comedy to make a point on a particular issue, similar to John Stewart and Stephen Colbert doing similar things with current events. While I agree there can be a fair bit of preaching to the choir and the easy ‘out’ of oversimplifying or vilifying, I think it’s an important form of commentary and communication that, when done well, can be great.

Well, Salon.com has just given me another reason not to go to their site.
First dropping Keith Knight’s strip and now this.

Slate runs a regular roundup of editorial cartoonists from around the country, but they overwhelmingly prove Sean’s point about them, sadly.

http://cartoonbox.slate.com/hottopic/?image=0&topicid=9

I’m updating my bookmarks now to follow Mr. Bolling’s wonderful comic at GoComics (or whatever combination of upper-case, lower-case, and exclamation points it really is). I’m looking at other options for Tom Tomorrow as well. Apparently the syndrome of “We’re sinking! Quick, punch holes in all the lifeboats!” isn’t limited to paper news.

Trout Fishing in America Shorty

April 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Early this year I began to notice the absence of new comics from my favorite Salon strips. I’ m happy that I can find those strips (Bolling’s & Keith Knight’s) elsewhere. I’m sorry to see Salon suffer from the current economic conditions.Now I understand why Mary Elizabeth Williams turned herself into Salon’s equivalent of a Page 3 Girl from the Sun: her notoriety will help her keep her job or find another one.

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