Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Phila. Daily News Cartoonist Signe Wilkinson launching new comic strip

It's hard to believe anyone still starts new comic strips (for newspapers) nowadays. The market is so brutal, the venue's restrictions so many. But Philadelphia Daily News political cartoonist Signe Wilkinson is launching a new strip with United Media, called Family Tree.

It sounds like a cross between Doonesbury and For Better or For Worse:

"'Family Tree' is not a political strip in the Democratic or Republican sense," Wilkinson said. "It's sort of how politics filters down to the family level."

The new comic has a strong environmental theme, and also touches on various other topical issues. For instance, the teen girl and boy in the Tree family have to deal with the overemphasis on standardized testing, and the mother is trying to switch jobs in order to get better health-care benefits.

Finally, Wilkinson wanted to add another woman's voice to comics pages that have more female creators than 20 years ago yet remain a mostly male-cartoonist bastion.

"I feel I can deal with beauty, clothes, social pressures, mother-daughter relationships, and other issues in a way that will ring true to other mothers and other daughters," she said.
I remember seeing (though not meeting) Signe many years ago at the Philadelphia Inquirer building (which shares space, and its advertising staff, with the tabloid Daily News). I was in a mentorship program with the gracious Inquirer political cartoonist Tony Auth, and he took me on a tour of the building. It was shortly after Signe had won the Pulitzer, and we passed the room in which the Daily News staff was having its Editorial Board meeting (where the paper works out what will appear on the Op-Ed pages that day, including the content of the Editorial and the political cartoon). As I recall, Signe and a fellow staffer were in a "heated debate" (i.e., screaming match).

Hope her comic strip has as much fire!

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