AOL Cartoonist Is Online and Offline

By: Dave Astor

Many syndicated editorial cartoonists have a home newspaper. For Bob Gorrell, it’s the America Online News Channel.

Of course, the AOL channel isn’t a newspaper. But, just as his peers do cartoons for their print employers that then get syndicated to other newspapers, Gorrell does cartoons for his online employer that then get syndicated to newspapers.

The Richmond, Va.-based Gorrell joined the Dulles, Va.-based AOL as a “contracted partner” last fall. Weekdays at about 9 a.m., Gorrell gets on a conference call with AOL people to discuss the news of the day. He then faxes a couple of ideas and, when one gets chosen, creates a cartoon that’s usually posted by 1 p.m. that afternoon.

Helping to make this quick turnaround possible is the fact that Gorrell had gradually simplified his art even before joining AOL. “I used to be what was called a ‘riveter,’ putting in every little screw and nail hole,” he recalled.

Gorrell, 47, appreciates the opportunity to get his work seen by the public so fast. “Some of the best cartoons are the ones with the most immediate and visceral response to events,” he said.

The cartoonist also appreciates the fast feedback his visual commentary gets on AOL message boards, and likes the archives AOL users can access to see his past work.

Gorrell, who works out of his home studio, does miss the atmosphere and discussions that can be found in newspaper newsrooms. He was a staff cartoonist for the old Richmond (Va.) News Leader and then the Richmond Times-Dispatch for 15 years before leaving in 1998.

Now, Gorrell’s print connection is Creators Syndicate, which distributes his AOL cartoons to more than 50 newspapers. The cartoons are exclusive to AOL for a day before they can go elsewhere.

Gorrell, who works at least 30 hours a week for AOL, draws in black and white, but is starting to think about using color. Eventually, Gorrell said, it’s possible his cartoons also may have interactive or animated elements.

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Et cetera …

Author and illustrator Bron Smith is creating “Health Capsules.” He replaces Dr. Michael Petti and Jud Hurd, who did the United Feature Syndicate Q-and-A cartoon since it began in 1961. …

Columnist Issac Bailey of The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C., joined the lineup of Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services’ KRT South. He writes about social issues and more. …

Doubleday published a book by “Everyday Ethics” columnist Randy Cohen of the New York Times Syndicate (NYTS): The Good, the Bad & the Difference: How to Tell Right from Wrong in Everyday Situations. …

Hatherleigh Press released Duct Tape Is Not Enough: A Humorous Guide to Midlife, a column collection by Red Green of Newspaper Enterprise Association. …

Ipicturebooks.com is offering three e-book collections by “Big Nate” comic creator Lincoln Peirce of NEA: Big Nate … Makes A Splash, Pray for a Firedrill, and Dibs on This Chair. …

Motor News Media introduced the “Choice Wheels Photo Gallery” database service. Also, the “Ask Dr. Gizmo” column by Phil Arendt of MNM (mnmedia@qwest.net) is now available weekly. …

KRT is offering material from the teen-oriented Blue Jean Online. …

Two Fortune Small Business magazine columns, “The Tech Skeptic” and “The Answer Men,” joined KRT’s weekly workplace package. …

NYTS, which distributes content from The Economist magazine in the United States, is now also offering it in Canada. …

The sales territory of London-based Los Angeles Times Syndicate International Regional Executive Pia Ingberg was expanded into Central Europe, Eastern Europe, and Russia.




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