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They’re two Left tastes that’ll taste Left together: This Modern World cartoonist Tom Tomorrow and progressive pundit and activist Markos Moulitsas Zúniga have announced that Tomorrow is leaving his slot at the online magazine Salon to become the first-ever Comics Editor for Moulitsas’s popular liberal blog and political community, Daily Kos. Tomorrow’s final Salon comic ran today.
On his blog, Tomorrow characterizes the move as a chance “to help create an entirely new space online for political cartoons,” something he says is sorely lacking in both print and online media. “The niche that editorial cartoons filled in newspapers is almost entirely occupied by Daily Show clips online,” he laments, adding that his comic will soon be joined on Daily Kos by others, in hopes of “building up a go-to destination for progressive cartoon commentary.” For his part, Moulitsas recalls picking up alternative weekly newspapers for the comics before anything else, noting that despite their apparent popularity, comics and cartoons are typically the first thing ailing altweeklies cut. “But I still love the medium of political cartooning, and we are now at a place in this site’s evolution that we can make an investment in that medium,” he says. “We don’t just want to expand the roster of political cartoonists, but we want to use technology to help arrest the medium’s decline.”
As a comics lifer and a daily Daily Kos reader…I’m not sure how I feel about all this, actually. I mean, I’m thrilled that Tomorrow, who seems like a mensch, not only has a great gig for himself, but seems to be in a position to extend offers to other political cartoonists who most likely need one. And I’m thrilled that a new-media powerhouse like DKos, which has feet in both the analysis and activism wings of online liberalism, is investing in the medium of comics in such a big way. But it’s seemed to me for years now—and this has been true even as my personal political allegiances have shifted back and forth—that political cartooning exists to take complex issues and boil them down into simplistic laugh lines for the purpose of entertaining people who already agree with the ideas being expressed. Cheap shots and choir preaching, to be blunt. In other words, I’m more excited about the idea of a Tom Tomorrow-edited comics section at the Daily Kos than I most likely will be about those comics themselves. Now, if Tomorrow’s editorship sees a space carved out not just for editorial cartooning, but for bona fide comics journalism of the Joe Sacco sort, that’s something I’d get awfully excited about.