Graphic novelist/editorialist Kirk Anderson's brilliant Banana Republic has been given the pink slip by the Star Tribune. According to David Brauer, who broke the story [and Brian Lambert], everyone's being professional about it:
Kirk said he was told his dismissal was "the 'standard reassessing our priorities' reason; that they needed money for another part-time editorial writer to replace the ones that they cut."
Since Generalissimo Avista took over, the Strib's editorial writing staff has been gutted; people like Jim Boyd, Steve Berg and Kate Stanley have not been replaced; another vet, Dave Hage, will leave soon. By my math, Kirk's freelance pay won't even cover half a full-timer, but interim-and-possibly-longer editorial page editor Scott Gillespie has to be in triage mode right now, and several editorials a week no doubt look more alluring than a single quarter-page cartoon.
By my math, the equation is wrong. The loss of that gang of four, plus editorial chief Susan Albright, had to save the Strib a lot more than that, even with a couple buyouts thrown in. If you're replacing all those departures with a part-timer, does that really mean you have to cut loose a freelancer, too?
Here's the Strib's line-up of columnists. It's extremely slanted toward sports, entertainment and lifestyle.
Four of the names on the page are already gone — presumably still there because some columns remain in the archives. The roster also includes three retirees who manage a column once a moon and three non-staffers. Thomma's column doesn't appear to be archived, and Donlin writes a jobs column so the Marketing Department has content for the Classifieds. Consider that C.J. and Katherine Kersten are included under news, and the depressing picture really emerges.
The right put up a huge stink when James Lileks' increasingly irrelevant humor columnette was axed earlier in the year, and he went on to his reward. Anderson supporters are more likely to shrug and say, what did you expect?
Anderson's serial commentary was already invisible online. A search for Banana Republic will only give you gems like these:
Want to look cute for the car pool?
These comfortable and chic outfits take little effort on manic mornings.
Preppy Permutations 08/26/2007
Here's what today's savvy prepster is wearing: CLASSIC AMERICAN (MEN) Rep ties Sack suits (seersucker, poplin for summer; gray flannel for winter) Brooks Brothers J. Press Sperry Topsiders (duct-taped together) Lacoste Shirts Ralph Lauren Polo She...
Now there's one less reason to buy the print edition.