Another in our band of brothers: Bill Day

Bill Day

That's me with Bill Day in Memphis this past Sunday, Jan. 31.

The same week last March that Robert Ariail and I were packing up our stuff to depart The State, another editorial cartoonist was doing the same back at the very first paper I ever worked for — the Commercial Appeal in Memphis.

Robert and I heard about Bill Day being laid off at the time, and it was a fresh reminder that we, and the other 38 people losing their jobs at The State, were far from alone.

Anyway, fast-forward to this past week. I was in Memphis for my father-in-law’s funeral. We were at the funeral home for the visitation and rosary the night before, and I was introduced to the father of one of my Memphis nephews’ classmates — and it was Bill Day. We had a really good talk comparing experiences. We were meeting for the first time (he and Robert had met at a convention years ago, back when newspapers paid for cartoonists to go to conventions), but it was like talking to an old friend, because we had so much in common. Beyond our immediate experience, he knew people I knew when I worked as a copy boy at his former paper back when I was in school in the 70s.

That makes three cartoonists I now feel a close connection to — all top professionals — who have been laid off, casualties of the slow death of the newspaper industry. First there was my oldest friend in the business, Richard Crowson. Richard had illustrated the first column I did for the editorial page of the Memphis State lab paper when we were in school. Then we worked together for a decade in Jackson, Tenn., before I persuaded Richard to follow me out to Wichita in the mid-80s. Then, in 2008, that same paper canned him.

Then Robert — and now Bill Day. I feel honored to know all three.

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