By Pittsburgh Current Staff
Since he was fired last year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, editorial cartoonist Rob Rogers has consistently heard one question.
“When are you bringing back Brewed on Grant.”
Now, thanks to a new partnership between Rogers and the Pittsburgh Current, that question has a definitive answer — August 6.
The partnership comes at a time when media companies are eliminating editorial cartoons and follows a years-long trend of newspapers seriously cutting back on or eliminating comics in general.
“We at the Current believe not only in the need for editorial cartooning but also the need for weekly funny pages drawn by Pittsburgh artists,” said Current Associate Publisher Bethany Ruhe. “We have been running bi-monthly comics since the second issue of this publication in August 2018 featuring great local artists like Teresa Logan, Andrea Shockling, DJ Coffman, Joe Wos, Rob Jones and Brad Perri. At a time when other publications are abandoning this medium, we are doubling down.”
Brewed on Grant was Rogers’ iconic, local political cartoon that ran weekly since 1997. He used the strip as a vehicle to cover Pittsburgh’s issues and politics from a fictitious Grant Street Diner. The strip has been used to cover a wide range of local topics from the city’s “most-livable” status to the homeless problem, from the Stanley Cup playoffs to the ethical challenges of a young mayor, from the Pittsburgh Promise to the police beating of CAPA student Jordan Miles.
“Satire is a unique and vital form of free speech. The ability to criticize those in power without being jailed or punished is the sign of a healthy democracy. When those forms of free speech are under attack, our entire democracy is under attack,” Rogers said. “That is especially true on a local level. If we don’t have local journalists and cartoonists holding city and state governments accountable, we will wake up one day and find ourselves living in a place mired by greed, corruption and politics as usual.”
Coinciding with the announcement, the Pittsburgh Current is launching a new Kickstarter program to not only support Rogers’ comic, but to help fund increased payments for the paper’s current and future local cartoonists. Among the premiums is the opportunity to be drawn into a Brewed on Grant comic strip.
“We’ve got a great roster of local cartoonists and many more reaching out all the time,” said Current Publisher/Editor Charlie Deitch. “In the past year, we have paid what we could, but certainly not what these artists are worth. When we started talking to Rob Rogers about bringing back Brewed on Grant and the possibility of using crowd-funding to help offset costs, he immediately suggested that we use this platform for not only his comics, but also to get increased fees for all of our artists.
“The return of Brewed on Grant is a major focus of this campaign, but it’s about the need to use more local artists and compensate them at a fair rate. That said, we are beyond elated to begin this new partnership with Rob. His comic is a classic and it’s an honor to run it in our paper.”
Secret Forces artist/writer DJ Coffman says supporting local artists is just as important as supporting any other local business.
“When you support and encourage the local comic arts, whether by donating to a kickstarter, or buying merch direct, you’re doing much more than putting a few bucks into an artist’s pocket. Your contribution is like a vote that’s fueling their creativity, freedom of speech and story exploration of artists of all ages and backgrounds,” Coffman said. “A local comics section is something super special that can only truly grow with community support and backing.”
Rogers concluded: “Brewed on Grant feels like home to me. It gives me the freedom to bounce between important local issues one week and less important quirky stories that make me laugh the next. It allows me to keep a critical eye on local politicians while also enjoying the collective practice of laughing at ourselves as a city. I love that in any given week, anybody or anything can wander into the diner. I have a lot of fun drawing it. I am very grateful to the Pittsburgh Current for giving me this opportunity to breathe new life into it.”
For more information or questions, please contact Pittsburgh Current Associate Publisher Bethany Ruhe at firstname.lastname@example.org