As the newspaper industry slowly spirals into the birdcage lining industry, acclaimed cartoonist Derf Backderf (My Friend Dahmer) has announced that his strip The City will cease running in The Cleveland Plain Dealer, which is going to three-times-weekly home delivery among other budget-cutting measures. Yesterday’s strip was the last one. Derf waxes philosophical about the end of newspaper strip cartooning and muses on his future:

This, somewhat sadly, brings down the final curtain on my newspaper presence here in my home base on the shores of Lake Erie. I’ve run the table. There are no more papers to call home, even if I wanted to continue. I started in my beloved Cleveland Edition, where the strip ran from its inception in 1990 until the paper’s tragic demise in 1992. I mourn it still. My favorite paper of all time, out of the 150 publications I’ve worked for in my career. In 1993, I was one of the founders of the Cleveland Free Times and was the visual personality of that weekly until 2001, when the family-owned paper was sold to a big media company, which treated everyone like crap. So I jumped ship to Cleveland Scene and had a nice home base there, until another sale to another big media company. My end there in 2011 was messy, to say the least. The PD gave me the chance to write a much better ending to my Cleveland newspaper career than the unpleasant debacle Cleveland Scene constructed. For that, I am thankful. The national strip will go on, at least for a while. I have several irons in the fire which may change my plans. For more details, see the post two down. Losing the PD gig is a bit of a financial hardship. It paid well, better than any paper I’ve worked for, and I’ll have to scramble to make up that income. But it definitely frees me up. Producing two strips a week in a dying industry where comix have absolutely no future at all was, to be frank, an indefensible waste of time. On occasion , when the ideas weren’t coming or the drawing hand was being cranky, it was three full days out of the work week. Now I can focus on books almost exclusively. I expect to really make headway now. So with the tinge of sadness there’s also excitement. I’m ready to get honking on these projects.

The projects Derf alludes to include a collection of The City (probably from a micropublisher, as larger houses declined) and another collection of his punk rock comic TRASHED, as well as some new graphic novel work. So yeah, one venue closes, others open.


  1. When the small paper gets bought out by the media company, things surely change. My last cartoon gig ended when I was required to submit cartoon ideas for approval before drawing them. Maybe that is common, but it felt like Big Brother was paying me poorly once for drawing something twice.

  2. “which is going to three-times-weekly home delivery”

    Can something which comes out only three times a week in a major city like Cleveland be considered a newspaper anymore?


  3. I have to check, but, at one point, I was told by a PD rep that there would be a Saturday “bonus edition” delivered. If that’s the case, it’s probably some sort of advertising thing.

  4. Just to clarify: only my Cleveland version (which was the original version) of The City is ending. I’ll continue with a national version, which appears in 15 or so weekly papers and online at Gocomics.com for now.

  5. http://www.comics.org/issue/37218/

    This is my favorite comic book story about a journalist (and journalism). It gets more poignant every year, because I was just out of college and starting a newspaper career when it came out.

    Second favorite comic about newspaper people: “Marvels.”

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