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Free Lance-Star Cartoonist Says Farewell

Clay Jones has been the newspaper's cartoonist for 14 years. His last day is today, Aug. 17.

For the first time in 14 years, Free Lance-Star readers won't see daily cartoons from Clay Jones, who announced on his blog today that his last day is Friday.

The Free Lance-Star is completing its third round of layoffs and/or hour cuts since 2008. Managing Editor Phil Jenkins said he did not have the authority to say how many employees were let go this week. Publisher Nick Cadwallender is on vacation and could not be reached for comment.

Recently, cartoonists at larger newspapers across the country have been laid off, including cartoonists at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, LA. Poynter.org reported that a cartoonist at the The Philadelphia Inquirer took a buyout. 

The award-winning cartoonist has had his work published in major newspapers across the country, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. Jones often joked on his blog about the calls he'd get from angry readers or the hate mail he'd receive each week about his cartoons. He never shied away from making fun of politicians, presidents or athletes, leaving sharp commentary under many of these cartoons that he posted on his newspaper blog. 

"I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie of the newsroom, election night pizza, breaking news, racing to the newsroom at midnight on a Sunday to cover the death of Osama bin Laden, receiving angry phone calls from readers, physical threats from a fireman, and that exasperated look on my editor’s face every time I showed him a cartoon he didn’t like," Jones wrote on his blog.

Jones will be freelancing two cartoons a week to the Free Lance-Star and he will still be syndicating his cartoons through Creators Syndicate, according to his blog post. He is also creating a new website to host his cartoons and asked that people follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Jones wrote in his blog that he left his job at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 1998 when the Free Lance-Star gave him a shot.

"It’s been a great ride. I’ll forever be in the FLS family and because of social networks we’ll always stay in touch," he wrote.

"Most of all, I want to thank you," Jones wrote in his blog to his readers. "If I never got reactions from you I would have felt like I was spinning my wheels and not doing my job." 

Jones said he is not sure what his next job will be and he is toying with several ideas. He also sings and plays guitar for a band.

"I can try something new and maybe even at a new location," he said. "Yes, I’m thinking about leaving Virginia despite the fact over the past 14 years I’ve gained more friends here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived."

To read all of Jones' blog, visit Fredericksburg.com. 

Clay Jones on Twitter: twitter.com/claytoonz

Clay Jones on Facebook: facebook.com/clayjones

The writer of this article is a former Free Lance-Star employee who left the company in 2010.

Kelly August 17, 2012 at 10:51 PM
We'll miss seeing your toons Clay! Who am I kidding......I will see them everyday on facebook!
Elizabeth Talbot August 18, 2012 at 10:54 AM
What? He was one of the few bright stars at the Free Lance Star. He actually gets published in the New York Times and the Washington Post and they let him go? Instead, the Free Lance Star this morning preferred to showcase some other curmudgeon at some ideological "think tank" located on the West Coast. That's so typical of the FLS nowadays. He wasn't right wing enough so they got rid of him. Too bad. Hopefully their loss will be someone's gain.
Caroline August 18, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I have so enjoyed the cartoons over the years, Clay. Often yours was the only voice of progressive and humane rationality. You will be missed. Caroline Carver
Raconteur August 19, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Congratulations Clay. Don't let the door hit you on your progressive, liberal, socialist derriere on the way out.
1Ronald August 19, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Clay Jones was about as right wing as we could stand. Will Chris OBrion return? Probably not. And can Akers be next to go? Maybe some syndicated editorial writers--the real deal, not wannabes. Even William Buckley would be an improvement, but he's not likely to return from the grave. Who can forget Buckley's "I'd rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." And oh how we miss Larry Evans (who never had to wing it) but much happier now in Florida. May I suggest adding my favorite cartoonist Pat Oliphant? He's Reality 101 but not for thin skin types. And Gary Larson (Far Side) not necessarily political, but a great laugh (Traveling salesman selling "Double Your IQ or No Money Back" and the customer stands in his doorway scratching his head stating, "Well, I dunno....OK sounds good to me."). And Chip Bok with the cartoon bubble "Harold's around back skimming the scum off the pool" showing the dude with the big net scooping a bum with flies and a stench quafting upward while another lies in the pool water on his back grinning and waving. But wouldn't work in Fredericksburg with THEIR ENHANCED VALUE as used against the Middle Class and to get those annual City Budget big buck dollars. Real magic. Yessir!
Elizabeth Talbot August 19, 2012 at 02:23 PM
We will follow Clay Jones on Twitter and Facebook, but how is he going to make a living on social media alone? Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons, recently terminated his long running comic strip, "Life in Hell," because the alternative weeklies have been going out of business. The decline of print media has been difficult for cartoonists. What new business model will enable them to create their art and eat at the same time?
Dan Telvock (Editor) August 19, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Great question, Elizabeth. Cartoonists and investigative journalism became expendable for newspapers and only within the past five years or so has there been some movement with bringing back investigative journalism through nonprofit centers, but there hasn't been much for cartoonists.
Arnold Smithson August 19, 2012 at 05:33 PM
The decline of investigative journalism is tragic. Propublica does some incredible investigative work, but I would be shocked if they got 1/10th the traffic that the partisan hack blogs do. Investigative work provides a real service to the community, the partisan hacks provide people a forum to mouth off about their preconceived notions and further polarize the nation. It's sad that we've lost our way.
Hamilton August 20, 2012 at 12:52 AM
the decline of investigative journalism in this country can be traced to the Austrailian media mongul Rupert Murdoch, his purchase of newspapers in large cities in the 70's and 80's giving us a daily dose of sensational journalism. Many competitors changed to try and keep up with Murdoch's tattle tales. Fast forward to today and the internet. Print media is suffering and small communities will be hit hardest - my opinion.
JJ45 August 20, 2012 at 12:20 PM
FLS will be out of business because it is a slave to advertisers. They won't cover the real news because it might piss off somebody who buys ads so they only go after the people they don't like or don't need $ from. Why they keep some of those worthless naval gazer columnists who write about nothing I'll never know. Patch has covered more than the entire staff of the FLS. Some of those articles online are there for weeks. If there weren't theyd have maybe 3 new articles a day. Pathetic.

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