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November 17, 2006

Tom Tomorrow at the Village Voice
Posted by Teresa at 02:13 PM *

Lindsay Beyerstein (Majikthise) tells me there are credible rumors going around that the new corporate regime at the Village Voice is a step away from canning Tom Tomorrow’s award-winning political comic strip, This Modern World. If you feel like trying to discourage this development, you can post a comment to them here, or send snail mail to Editor, Village Voice, 36 Cooper Square, New York, NY 10003.

Why bother: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.

Comments on Tom Tomorrow at the Village Voice:
#1 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 04:25 PM:

A new corporate regime at the Villiage Voice?


Was there an *old* corporate regime at the Villiage Voice? I always thought of it as one of the old standards of anti-corporate news, but I admit I haven't been paying close attention.

Did Rupert Murdoch buy them out?

#2 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 04:37 PM:

According to Wikipedia, Rupert Murdoch is actually one of the previous owners of Village Voice Media. I didn't know that. (I doubt he was the immediate previous owner though.) What I did know was that New Times Media (which owns alternative weeklies all over the country) bought out Village Voice Media. There was at least one report about this on NPR's On the Media.

The new corporate regime probably refers to New Times Media. They may have taken on the Village Voice Media name when they took over. I don't remember.

#3 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 05:06 PM:

The Voice has fired everyone else - why should Tomorrow be immune?

#4 ::: Jon Sobel ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 05:28 PM:

I can't get excited about this. I'm a fan of Tom Tomorrow's cartoons - but The Village Voice has been politically irrelevant for so long, I didn't even remember they carried him.

I guess it would be an income hit for him, though. So I guess it couldn't hurt to send a letter to the editor. OK, I sent one.

#5 ::: John ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 05:53 PM:

The corporate masters at the new VVM (who are mostly the masters from the old New Times) aren't interested in being national political players. They're willing to front some investigative reporting, but only on a local level. Thus, strips which focus on national issues aren't likely to make the cut. Count yourself lucky if you live in a city served by an alternative that's not part of this chain.

#6 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 06:06 PM:

New Times Media bought Village Voice earlier this year, and the combo became Village Voice Media.

New Times Media actually got its start as PHOENIX NEW TIMES, a free alternative weekly that began in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 70's, begun by Michael Lacey and friends. Under Lacey's editorship, PNT developed a reputation for hard-hitting investigative journalism, along with the usual alt-weekly mix of music, movie and restaurant reviews, snarky columnists, a page of alternative comic strips (Groening's LIFE IN HELL, ZIPPY THE PINHEAD, Lynda Barry, etc.), and lots of ads for local strip clubs.

PNT turned corporate in the early 90's, IIRC, and began acquiring other alternative weeklys around the country.

This began to make a change in the paper. It got less edgy, more stodgy. The comics page became half a page, then several strips scattered thru the paper. THIS MODERN WORLD was actually one of the last to go, several years ago. The only strip left today is the locally-produced-and-oriented STUPID COMICS by Jim Mahfood, which is pretty lame.

(They still have the strip club ads, but a lot larger percentage of "mainstream" ads as well nowadays.)

Michael Lacey also changed, when he moved from an active role as editor and reporter (some of the best early investigative pieces in PNT were his work) to executive. (He's Executive Editor for Village Voice Media now.)

Hilde and I met him once. He interviewed us and wrote a wonderful editorial about Hilde in 1985, when the Arizona Department of Revenue refused to give Hilde a business license for her jewelry-making. (She's handicapped, y'know, so of course she could never run a real business.)

The impression I had of Lacey was that he was one of those passionate, angry reporters that you want to base a movie hero on.

But since he became an executive, that fire seems to have largely left him. He still contributes an occasional piece of writing, but the difference is... shocking. He's become a curmudgeon, and not a very nice one (almost a reactionary in tone); in 2004, he wrote a pre-election piece that basically boiled down to "Don't bother to vote; it only encourages them." I was deeply dismayed, and even wrote a letter to PNT to express that dismay.

(Possibly irrelevant side note: Back in the early days, the local cartoonist for PNT was Bob Boze Bell [nowadays known for graphic retellings of Old West history, and editor of TRUE WEST magazine], who contributed a godly number of wonderful, laugh-out-loud pieces to the paper. He too was dropped from the paper; I'm sure the fact that one of his laugh-out-loud pieces was a cartoon re-telling of Michael Lacey's arrest for drunk driving was just a coincidence.)

#7 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 06:37 PM:

I just sent them an email thru the link. Short and polite.

#8 ::: Russell Letson ::: (view all by) ::: November 17, 2006, 11:35 PM:

I don't know who owned who when (or who's on first, either), but a few years back the Voice parent company bought both Twin Cities free papers, then collapsed the older one, the Twin Cities Reader, leaving City Pages with the free-weekly monopoly and the reading environment a bit duller. (Or only half as annoying, depending on what your take is on urban-twentysomethings' usefulness as reviewers of music you can't abide and movies you won't bother to see.) I remember meditating on the ironies of the Village Voice as Engulf & Devour. Sic transit the counter-culture, eh?

#9 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 12:04 AM:

My favorite is his Batman-Plame parody from three years ago: "Holy Blown Batcover!"

#10 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 12:49 AM:

Unfortunately, very few of the free weeklies count as "alternative media" anymore. Some huge conglom owns them. Sic transit media (dog latin, for the people who will catch me).

#11 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 02:21 AM:

I think this describes the situation at the Voice fairly well.

I'm pretty sure I read a later article which was even gloomier, but now I can't find it.

I'll write email about Tom Tomorrow, but I'm not optimistic.

#12 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 10:14 AM:

At least the Washington Post still has "Tom Tomorrow" with its comics. That's where I see it, online.

#13 ::: Anthony Ha ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Wow, and I'm still slightly stunned by their firing of Robert Christgau.

Memo to the ungainly corporate behemoth now apparently (and deceptively) known as Village Voice Media.

A reasonable strategy: shaking things up to continue to be accessible and relevant.

Not a reasonable strategy: perversely trying to dismantle everything that made the paper worth reading.

#14 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: November 18, 2006, 06:48 PM:

Village Voice Media also owns Seattle Weekly, and has, for the most part, gutted the editorial section; The Stranger's claim to be "Seattle's Only Newspaper" looks more true every day.

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2006, 12:19 AM:

Bruce: Thanks for the memories. I remember when the New Times was banned at my high school. Their journalism tried hard and sometimes succeeded, and Boze was brilliant. It's so weird that in the years that've followed, it's turned into a shapechanging alien monster that's eaten both the Seattle Weekly and the Village Voice.

(Also, there's now a Valley National Bank a block or two south of Tor. That's just plain weird.)

#16 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 19, 2006, 12:27 AM:

FWIW, The Weekly has really gone off a cliff. They're shedding staff, dropping features and seem to be well on their way to becoming a faux-alternative version of the Seattle Times. Thankfully, we still have The Stranger. Not every city is so lucky.

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