Monday, 24 November 2014

Support your local Aussie newspaper comic strip artist, before it's too late and there are none left!!! (UPDATED WITH RESULTS.)

In yet another crushing blow to the Australian Comic Strip industry, APN News and Media, which publishes daily newspapers from Mackay in North Queensland to Clarence Valley in Northern New South Wales is further reducing its comics section in favour of providing the cheaper option of printing puzzles.

In an article titled More puzzles, fewer cartoons in your APN papers in 2015 , their reasoning behind the latest round of cost cutting is as follows:
IF YOU'RE a brainteaser buff or partial to puzzles, we have good news for you.

APN Australian Regional Media's newspapers are revamping its daily puzzle and cartoons pages in the new year, more than doubling the number of puzzles we run now.

This is in response to comprehensive research with our readers, who are telling us they want more caffeine-free ways to kickstart their brains of a morning.

This will mean you will soon have seven puzzles to give you a daily mental workout, and your crossword clues will be a bit easier to read thanks to their larger point size.

As a result, we will be reducing the number of comic strips we offer each day from six to three.

But because we believe in democracy, we're asking you to help us decide which comics stay and which ones go.

At the moment we carry Garfield, Ginger Meggs, Insanity Streak, Swamp Classics, The Phantom and Overboard.

To let us know your three preferences, you can vote in our online reader poll.

Please register your votes by Saturday, November 29 (2014) and we'll let you know the outcome soon after.
Quite simply, they're saying that their readers have told them that they don't want comics any more and would rather have an endless stream of sudoku and crossword puzzles. Personally, I believe that's a load of crap and they're just looking at new ways to save pennies for the benefit of their bean counters by replacing comic strips in favour of the cheaper puzzles.

A couple of years or so ago, the big three news print entities in Australia, APN, Fairfax, and News Corp, all seemed to have the same idea at the same time. Whereas each newspaper that they owned would originally have the comics hand-picked by each publication's editor, thereby giving a vast outlet for Australian comic strip artists to be able to have their works published, they all decided to cut costs by removing the editor's right to choose which comics were printed, and forced a single national comic strip page onto each newspaper that they owned. This meant that a great deal of well established comic strip artists, who had a loyal fanbase and were stalwarts in the industry, suddenly found themselves axed from the same publications that their loyal fanbase were getting their content from. So instead of having all of the successful Australian comic strips being printed daily in various newspapers, we suddenly had only 2 or 3 Australian comic strips for the entire country, depending on which news print entity owned the newspaper you were buying. Cheaper overseas comics were given preference over the Australian home grown favourites.

Now, just to add insult to injury, with APN now reducing the comics page from 6 strips per day to just 3 strips per day, they're making their readers choose which comics stay and which comics go.... So what do we have to choose from?

From the United States of America we have Garfield by Jim Davis' band of hired gag-writers and artists (Brett Koth and Gary Barker, plus various hired inkers), The Phantom by the late Lee Falk (now drawn by Paul Ryan and Terry Beatty), and Overboard by Chip Dunham.

From Australia we have Ginger Meggs by the late Jimmy Banks, (now under the skilful hand of Jason Chatfield), Swamp by Gary Clark and Insanity Streak by Tony Lopes... that's it. Gone are the days of Snake Tales by SOLs, Beyond the Black Stump by Sean Leahy, and Kool Roo by Peter Dare to mention a few. In no way will we ever get a new Australian made comic strip in the newspapers. It's hard enough for the established cartoonists to get published in the newspapers nowadays.

That's right! There will NEVER be a new Australian made comic strip in any of the major newspapers EVER again!!! When my own comic strip creation Bushcamp Comics was picked up by Auspac Media they made it quite clear to me that they would happily put the comic strip on the books so they could show it to any print publications that came to them asking for new content, but the major newspapers were no longer looking for new comic strips and there was no point in them even bothering to market the strip to the major news print entities unless they asked for something new, which was also extremely unlikely. If this mentality of ignoring Australian comic strip artists had begun back in 1921, Ginger Meggs would never had seen the light of day past Jimmy Bancks' drawing board. It would never have had the opportunity to be continued for over 90 years at the hands of Ron Vivian, Lloyd Piper, James Kemsley, and now Jason Chatfield. We would never have seen the likes of Old Timer by SOLs which evolved into Snake Tales. The Australian comic strip industry would simply stop as there would be no outlet for anything new. In order to get your strip into the newspapers you'd first have to convince the bean counters to drop one of their pre-selected comics from the "National" comic page. Very unlikely seeing as you don't have a loyal fan base yet. Even more unlikely considering the amount of Australian comics strips that already had a huge and very loyal fan base that were already given the shaft in favour of the cheaper imports. Now APN is going to halve it's daily comic strip count from 6 strips per day down to just 3, there's even less of an opportunity for the Australian comic strip artist to get into print media.

So what's going to happen after the voting process finishes? Quite simply put, 3 of their current comic strips will remain in print, whilst the other 3 get thrown out the window, never to see the light of day in an APN newspaper ever again. Of course, Fairfax and News Corp will no doubt follow suit after seeing how many beans APN has saved itself at the expense of 3 hardworking artists who manage to come up with something new DAILY!!! For EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR!!!!

With all this in mind, if you're reading this before the November 29 2014 deadline (Australian time), I urge you to follow the link to the voting page here:,
and vote for the three Australian comic strips, to help salvage the livelihood of these great comic strip artists, if only until the next wave of cuts happens.

At the time of publishing this blog page, the vote count was as follows:

Help do your bit. The Australian newspaper comic strip will most likely be killed off by the bean counters, but at least we can try and make it last just that little bit longer.

What can I do?

Nothing, short of complaining to APN, who will most likely not care anyway. Voting has closed (Early)

Vote for the 3 Australian comics at APN before the deadline and ask your friends to follow suit, then contact the editor of your local Australian daily newspaper to let them know you are disappointed with the way Australian comic strip artists are getting treated.

UPDATE: 28th November 2014 10:23PM Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
The polling has closed early.

In a pathetic attempt to ensure they can get rid of at least one iconic Australian comic strip, APN has closed the voting process early. The final votes are as follows:
Insanity Streak and Ginger Meggs appear to be saved from the chop with 25.0% and 23.0% of the votes respectively.

Swamp and The Phantom appear to be tied in 3rd place at 18.0% each. So what does this mean? It means APN will most likely choose the cheaper option of the two which would no doubt be The Phantom, being an overseas strip.

Only time will tell. We now have to wait until APN make their announcement on which three comic strips will be in next years newspapers.

Interestingly enough, The Daily Mercury conducted its own poll about a month ago. Their results were remarkably different as can be seen below:

Just a reminder, the above screenshot is simply a comparison of a different poll about the same comics. The final result for the all important culling poll is as follows:
  • Insanity Streak 25.0%
  • Ginger Meggs 23.0%
  • Swamp AND The Phantom 18.0%
  • Garfield 8.0%
  • Overboard 6.0%
For further information, please see the next blog:
The Continuing Demise of the Australian Newspaper Comic Strip