The Australian Cartoonists Association notes with disappointment that the Nine newspapers (including The Age, the Sunday Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sun-Herald) are ceasing to publish regular comic strips next week. It follows similar decisions by News Corp and Australian Community Media last year.
Australian readers will no longer be seeing Australian strips published in Nine papers, including Jason Chatfield's Ginger Meggs and Ian Jones' Bushy Tales, as well as syndicated US strips including BC, Hägar the Horrible, Zits, Non Sequitur and The Wizard of Id.
For some local artists this means the end of their comics-creating livelihoods. Others will continue to be published in regional papers around Australia, whom we thank for their ongoing commitment to cartooning in their publications.
We are assured that editorial and pocket cartoons about the news of the day will remain in the news pages for the foreseeable future. For this we are thankful, as even in the US, some mastheads have dispensed with political cartoons too, in a highly polarised culture.
Major news outlets claim the changing interests of their readership and cost-cutting as their reasoning for ending comic strips, but we know perfectly well that good cartoons and comics remain popular and continue to draw readers in, as they've been doing in Australia for over a century.
Cartoonists acknowledge the shared history of news and comic strips, but we are responding to a changing media landscape. As the news business has disintegrated over the past 20 years, Australian cartoonists have found homes for their work, and careers for themselves, online and in other forms of publishing.
An opportunity is being missed to foster the next generation of Australian cartoonists, resulting in local readers losing the local stories and imagery that have made so many of our cartoons and comics distinct.
In a time of crisis for journalism — wages stagnating, outlets shutting down, A.I. writing the news — the ACA believes that a local focus, with humanity and humour, would be the best way to remain relevant.