Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gingerly sticking my big toe into the blogoshere

Welcome to Crowson Blog. I'm a late-comer to the blogosphere. Thought about doing it for a long time but found myself wondering: Who are bloggers talking to? Is it a "dear diary" sort of deal, but posted on a billboard? Is it a note-in-a-bottle kind of thing, where you just toss it into the ocean and hope the right person eventually fishes it out? Is it a Poor Richard's Almanac situation, or more accurately, a Poor Everyman's Almanac? Could it be a manifestation of humankind's deep need to communicate in an age of isolation? Is it ego craving attention?
I don't know. All I know is: Here I am and if you're reading this, there you are. And please know that you're welcomed here.
It's a strange thing, being a newspaper editorial cartoonist who gets suddenly laid off. For years one puts one's work out there in the newspaper, getting the occasional irate reader comment in the form of a letter or a phone call, now and then a compliment as well. Yet that 30-years experience did not prepare me for the response I have recently gotten from readers regarding the end of my Wichita Eagle career.
The comments of encouragement have been overwhelming, to put it mildly. So many warm thoughts from so many folks that I've never met -- even from politicians that I have been skewering for years! It will take me a while but I'll answer every one of those emails, swear to God. And it does look like I'll have a little spare time for such things now.
This reminds me of something, this business of being a kind of public figure who is thrust out of the limelight and then has the privilege of hearing generous remarks from people about oneself. It reminds me, not to be morbid or anything, of that scene in Tom Sawyer where Tom sneaks into his own funeral and gets moved by the eulogies about himself. And it underscores to me how unbelievably fortunate I have been to have had this wacky cartooning job for all these years. How many people work their entire lives, performing their duties much more competently than I ever have, and receive scarcely any accolades for their efforts?
The funeral analogy stops there however. I am not dead, don't even have a cold. I feel pretty damn good and am looking forward to some exciting times and adventures. Got a few emails to answer first, though. Thank you for that.


Grandmas Rock said...

I am so upset about your lay off that I almost called and canceled my Eagle subscription that I have had since I was 23 (a mere 25 years ago)! I decided that this was the beginning of the end to our beloved hometown paper, however, so I may as well keep reading until they lay off every last staff member, because if YOU were on the first of the list, another list will be coming down the pike soon. It does make me feel better to find this blog and note that although you are in a bit of shock over losing your job, you sound upbeat and looking forward to the next stage of your life. What about us Crowson junkies, though? If I missed reading any part of my paper, it was never Crowson's View. I looked forward to it every day, missed it on the days it turned out to be a syndicated cartoon and often marveled that little old Wichita has such a talented and insightful cartoonist to call our own. Any time a major event happened, either nationally or locally, I couldn't wait to read your take on things. I have laughed and cried over your little square of the paper and enjoyed both immensely. Some of your cartoons just had to be shared with my daughter who was serving in the US Army overseas or with my parents who live in Ohio. No one will be able to fill the void that will be left in the paper, so thank goodness for this website...I can hopefully still get my fix of your humor and wit. Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing your heart with Wichita for so many was very much appreciated and will be missed.

Sarah Y said...

Good luck to you and welcome to this big ole blogosphere.

coppercorn said...

Richard, I had emailed you last Wednesday for the first time to tell you how much the Damion Thomas tribute touched me, and that was the first I heard about the layoff. It is no exaggeration to say that everyone I told was shocked that the Eagle would let you go.

I wish you well in all your new endeavors.

bengalmaniac said...

I am so moved by your writing about the puppy. I am a 43 year old man. I am a former football player and nobody that sees me would believe how soft-hearted I am about the abuse of animals. It kills my heart to see. Thanks for your story. A dog just wants to be loved and will love you back without condition. Harming an animal like that shows what a lost individual a person is.

uniontrooper said...

Mr. Crowson,
I was not aware that you were laid off... I e-mailed you the other day thinking you had retired, then I remembered reading in the Eagle that the newspaper would be laying off some folks... little did I ever think that YOU would be one of them! That is so wrong, you being one the "stars of the show".
Please forgive me for my misunderstanding, you will be sorely missed by many. It just floors me that they would let such a talent go.
Sir, I wish you the best. See you at Winfield. :-)

Kent said...

Mr. Crowson,
I only learned of your "layoff" or whatever quaint term the bean-counter assigned to it this weekend. Between losing you, the Wichitalk section and the TV listings, I'm seriously thinking about weaning myself from a lifetime of print journalism addiction and going "paper-free". This would be a serious endeavor, having trained as a (non-practicing) print journalist who once read 4 newspapers a day.
Newspaper companies wonder why their readership is dropping, while they homogenize and eliminate everything "local" that would attract people to continue reading. The "Eagle" I remember had a full-time movie critic, two humor columnists, and one of the country's most talented editorial cartoonists. They have none of that, and likely will be slashing more and more.
Hope you're successful in all your future endeavors. I'll be following your blog, now that I've found it.

Unknown said...

Hmmm, well, your lay off just proves to me that I was right concerning my suspicions about the Eagle--it IS going to hell in a handbasket! However, I think that you will find that here in the blogsphere, you will find friends you never knew you had! Keep drawing, keep posting, and keep your head up, something will turn up for you. My hope is that the 'something' will be really grand!

Anonymous said...

Although I didn't always agree with you politically, I absolutely loved it when you drew anything about Winfield and the Walnut Valley Festival. I would love to see a gallery of all the Winfield related cartoons. Good Luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Crowson,
You truly have been one of the Eagle's few, bright red feathers in its cap for quite some time. Without people like you, a newspaper is just black ink on cheap newsprint.

I'm truly glad to see you launching off with a new Web site and blog. You have barrels of talent and pools of wisdom. That will not go unrecognized. In fact, maybe the rest of the world outside the 316 area code will finally discover you!

"In the end is our beginning."

All best wishes,
Kim Benson

janthepayne said...

Well, after a lifetime there I left Wichita in 2004 to live in Austin near my only child & grandchildren. Your work, both artistically & musically was very much enjoyed. Your editorial cartoons were right on & something to be proud of as a Kansan now living in Texas. I wish I could say I can't believe they would lay you off, but being born & bred in Kansas, the land of close minded Republicans, I find it easy to believe. All I can say is I'm sorry & chin up!

Anonymous said...

I too cannot believe they would lay off such a talented person as you. I have cut out many of your cartoons to keep. This is just crazy that the Eagle would do something like that! What in the world are they thinking?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what they were thinking. All I know is, I'm in good company. Many of my long-time cartoonist heroes have either been laid off recently or taken buyouts: Jim Borgman, Don Wright, Dwane Powell, Stuart Carlson. I grieve for my profession. When I started cartooning for the Jackson Sun in Jackson, Tennessee in 1976, there were around 350 newspaper cartoonists at work. Today, around 75. Doesn't take a math major...

Thanks so much to each of you for your very kind words. I didn't know there were so many of you out there.

paddy said...

I just learned of your departure from the Eagle today and am in utter shock. Your cartoon's were the first thing I turned to in the paper and they were sure to bring a smile or give pause for thought.

Now we have nothing to counter Mallard Fillmore and the knuckle dragging Neanderthal's he appeals too.
Woe is me.

Sandy aka Cntrystyln said...

What is happening to the Eagle? They are laying off like crazy! I don't care who you are or what job you have when you are laid off it hurts! You are like bewildered, even if you expected it. (Like I did when I got laid off from Boeing in 2006.)

It hurts, you work hard, you show up, do your job, take all their crap, are underpaid, under appreicated - yet you do it because you love what you do. Then BAM, you aren't needed anymore.

Hang in there - as I found out there is life after Boeing (it is called Spirit), you will find out there is life after the Eagle.

I will enjoy reading your blog and seeing what you end up doing, whatever it is, you will enjoy it.

Can I still catch you at Watermark sometimes?

PS - you might remember me (and hubby) from sharing the round table at Jeanne's with you one day when you had a friend with you from Topeka. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hello, Sandy. I do remember you.

And, boy, do I ever agree with you about the trauma of layoffs. Even when you have a few weeks notice before hand that it's coming, it still devastates when it hits. So many Wichitans have been through this, such as yourself, that I know I am at least in very good company. I've heard from many and they are all encouraging about the post-layoff life.

The Eagle is going through the same economic upheaval that most print media are. The internet, the recession and perhaps big-chain ownership are creating a perfect storm for the industry. I find myself wondering why they don't redouble their efforts to be more locally focused instead of laying off those of us who were doing that. Seems to me that mid-sized city papers will never be able to compete with all of the other choices for national news coverage, so they should play to their strength -- local news.

Oh, well. Life goes on. Gotta make the best of it. Thanks for your comment, Sandy.

Meg said...

I grew up reading the Eagle, and as an official "adult" (college graduate), one of my first purchases was a subscription. I always read your cartoon, and more often than not, shook my head because you had drawn what I was feeling. Now that I'm no longer in Kansas, I no longer have an Eagle subscription, although I do read it online each day. I saw the slideshow of your work and assumed you had retired. When I found your blog tonight, I was shocked to find out I was wrong. Please know that you always brought a smile to my face, and now that I've found your blog, you will continue to make me smile. Best of luck to you -- just remember that you're a valuable person -- and no job, no company, and no layoff can change that fact. All my best.