Firefighting and Other Work in Cartoonist’s Future

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By: Dave Astor

Editorial cartoonist Paul Combs is leaving The Tampa Tribune and returning to Ohio for several reasons.

When reached by E&P today, Combs said he and his wife and daughter are not fond of the “wall-to-wall people,” the highly competitive housing market, and the crime rate in the Tampa area.

“We never really adjusted to Florida,” said Combs, who moved there to join the Tribune in the fall of 2004. “My family comes first.”

Combs, 39, added that he and his wife want to be geographically closer to their Ohio-based parents.

Upon returning to Ohio, Combs will become a firefighter again (on a paid-by-call basis), draw cartoons for a firefighter magazine and firefighter Web site, continue doing freelance illustration, and pursue another possible opportunity he’s not able to discuss yet.

As noted in yesterday’s E&P story, Combs’ impending May 26 departure took some observers by surprise because staff editorial cartoonist jobs are so hard to come by these days.

Is Combs worried that he might not get another staff cartoonist position? “I’m hopeful it will still happen, but I’m not afraid to be on my own,” he replied. “I’ll do what I have to do to support my family.”

Will Combs miss the Tribune job? “Yes,” he said. “The job itself was fantastic. I learned so much from the editorial board. And Rosemary Goudreau [the paper’s editorial page editor] is such an advocate for our profession. We need a lot more editors like her.”

Goudreau told E&P in yesterday’s story that she wants to find a replacement for Combs. A number of other papers — including the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and The Sun of Baltimore — have left staff cartoonist positions open in recent years.

Combs concluded that if his successor enjoys living in Florida, that person will be glad he or she came to work for Goudreau and The Tampa Tribune.

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