Here’s your annual peek at the Toledo Free Press’ Opening Day edition

I know spring is finally here when my pal James A. Molnar of the Toledo Free Press sends me his Opening Day pages. The 115,000-distribution free weekly tabloid goes all-out every year to celebrate the start of the season for the famous Toledo Mud Hens.

James tells us:

We published a 60-page edition on April 12 dedicated to opening day April 16 and I’m excited to share it with you.

Our fantastic cartoonist Don Lee produced some great cover artwork for the third consecutive year, now. The cover idea stems from various promotion nights by the Hens, which include Back to the Future Night, a doubleheader honoring the 30th anniversary of the film franchise.

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The cover also features a double-headed dinosaur since there will be a Jurassic Park theme night in anticipation of the fourth movie in the franchise, Jurassic World, coming to theaters this summer.

The Mud Hens will even wear special post-retro jerseys for Back to the Future night.

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Find the online version of that story here.

James continues:

For the inside cover, I had Don Lee send me separate elements to use.

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I thought it would be fun to include his concept drawing and revised sketch for this year. We’re really lucky to have him in our editorial arsenal.


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Find more of Don’s work on Twitter and Facebook.

James continues:

You’ll remember the Ghostbusters-themed cover last year…

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…and the Angry Birds cover from two years ago.)


James also sends along a number of inside pages, including the welcome page…

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…the schedule page…

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…a page full o’ team member mug shots…

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…and even a fun baseball-themed crossword puzzle.

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James writes:

One of my favorite stories is written by Associate Editor Tom Konecny, who profiles the history of the team.

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Although baseball has a long history in Toledo, the current franchise is marking 50 years in 2015.

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Find the online version of that story here.

(Story online:

Kudos to Managing Editor Joel Sensenig for his hard work organizing the content for the section. Sensenig wrote a story about new food offerings at the stadium this year and you don’t want to miss one of the new treats: A S’more donut.


Again, here’s the full story. Click for a readable version.

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Find the entire Opening Day e-edition here.

The Toledo Free Press recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in print. Read about that here.

A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune.


He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010. He also covers movies for the Free Press.

Find James’ personal blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.


James Molnar of the Toledo (Ohio) Free Press writes:

You may have heard Toledo made national headlines last week with news of a do-not-drink water advisory.

Wednesday morning, we were going through photos, trying to figure out what would work for a cover. I was not loving the options so I asked our managing editor, Sarah Ottney, to contact our staff photographer, Christie Materni, and have her go to the lakefront with a glass and get a gross photo for me.

What Christie submitted Thursday morning looked awesome and incredibly gross.

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Per your mantra, we ran the photo big and got the hell out of its way. We got rid of refer boxes and masthead coloring for the week. We also ran the headline small so as not to district from the photo.

Let me know what you think.

I think I won’t be drinking any water for a long, long time.

For fun, compare James’ cover with that of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail back in January.


You can find the Free Press‘ online digital issue here. An opinion piece kicks off the issue on page three.


The editorial cartoon by Don Lee is pretty funny.


The opinion piece wraps up on page four.


That “Lorax on the Lake” bit is a letter from a resident noting that Dr. Seuss originally mentioned Lake Erie in his 1971 book about environmental awareness, the Lorax.

Locals reportedly approached Seuss, pointed out that environmental efforts had worked on Erie and asked him to remove the reference. He reportedly did.

Sarah Ottney also shot this picture of the president of the National Wildlife Federation pointing out something among the algae bloom in Lake Erie.


That picture leads the main news story on page six.


The story jumps from page seven to page eight…


…and then to pages 10 and 11…


…before wrapping up on pages 12 and 13.


Find the Free Press web site here.

Previous blog posts featuring the Toledo Free Press and the Free Press Star:

A cover montage made of crowdsourced photos

A couple of weeks ago, James A. Molnar of the Toledo Free Press Star shared his annual Opening Day baseball covers.

Now, he shares his crowdsourced 419 Day cover. Click for a larger look:

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The local area code in Toledo is 419, James tells us, so April 19 has now become a local holiday of sorts. He writes:

Toledo City Council officially recognized the celebratory day two years ago “to showcase Toledo, Ohio, foster civic pride, and to create an epicenter for an annual citywide celebration…”

When I was informed the story was going to be our Star cover, I wanted to do an area photo grid. We reached out to our Instagram followers and asked them to use #TFP419 and we would select our favorites to put on the cover.

The response was overwhelming. We had more than 140 photos to choose from 48 hours later.

Here’s the print version of the story…

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…and here’s a closeup of the key to the contributions for the cover montage.


Go here to find the online version of the story.

A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune.


He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010. He also covers movies for the Free Press. Find his personal blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Small Kansas weekly ’empire’ grows just a little more

A small mom-and-pop weekly in South Central Kansas have added to their growing empire.

Back in November, I wrote about the Joey and Lindsey Young, who bought the free-distribution weekly Clarion of Andale, Kansas, in June 2012, becoming the youngest newspaper publishers in the state.


Joey was 27 at the time and Lindsey was 28.

In November, they expanded into nearby Maize, adding employees and wowing me with a level of design uncommon for a weekly.

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I gushed a bit over their design and their empire building and even over their web site.

This week, Joey and Lindsey bought the Hillsboro Free Press, just down the road a bit from their current properties. The previous owner — Joel Klaassen, who founded the paper in 1998 — was impressed with what he’s seen of their work. The Free Press quotes him as saying:

I’d been reading Joey’s papers, and I saw what he wrote in his column and editorials. It was what I believe in. He had the right mindset about small towns, and what’s important to them.

Part of the deal is for Klaassen to stay on until his planned retirement in three years. The Free Press quotes Joey as saying:

I’m honored and humbled that Joel thinks we’re the right people to take over.

My take: It’s people like Joey and Lindsey that are the future of journalism. Let’s hope someone brilliant like Ken Doctor will step up soon and explain the “newsonomics” of what they’re doing.

Read more about the purchase here. Find my blog post about Joey here.

Front-page photo of the day

A picture of a big explosion. And a pun headline.

That could be a dangerous combination, if used without plenty of thought.

Apparently, the Fargo, N.D., alt-weekly High Plains Reader put some thought into this front cover.


Photographer Bruce Crummy shared that with us. Click for a larger look.

Bruce tells us:

I am a freelancer in Fargo and sold them the cover art from my Dec. 30 shoot of the horrific fireball following the Casselton, N.D., BNSF train derailment.

I used to shoot for The Forum — 30+ years.

Here’s how the Forum covered that train crash the next day.

Find Bruce’s web site and blog here.

Find the High Plains Reader web site here.

What readers think about those free newspapers forced on them

A group in Tacoma, Wash., is protesting against a twice-weekly free publication of the Tacoma News Tribune that is thrown into the yards of residents.

We used to call them “total market coverage,” or TMC papers. Many readers throw them away. But I’ve always been told they’re a necessary evil: Some advertisers really want to be delivered to everybody in a city or zip code, whether those readers want those ads or not.

I always hated these things. I can call and halt delivery of my newspaper when I go out of town for a week or two. But you can’t halt delivery of these cursed things. They keep coming and coming like an Energizer bunny rabbit possessed by Satan himself.

The group in Tacoma is called Return to Sender, and their tactic is right there in their name. They collected weeks worth of free papers and they dumped them in front of the News Tribune building Saturday morning.


The results weren’t pretty. There were about a thousand orange-plastic-wrapped papers there, a local TV station reported.


The group says these papers were collected from street and storm drains, where they tend to collect.

If you want a good feel for what our potential customers think about these free newspapers, go to the Return to Sender Rally Facebook page and read the comments. I think you’ll find it interesting. And horrifying. Would an opt-out option really be so bad?

For what it’s worth, readers feel much the same way about pop-up ads on news web sites and spadea ads around the newspapers they buy. But you probably know that already.

New weekly — very attractive for a tiny ‘mom and pop’ — launches in Kansas

Joey Young — owner and publisher of the Clarion and Maize Free Press, a new weekly serving south central Kansas — writes:

I am a huge fan of your blog and I am the primary designer for my newspapers. I am a terrible copy editor — it’s why I let my wife (she is an accomplished editor) edit our two community weeklies.

We are limited as a small weekly staff, so we can’t do some of the really fun stuff featured on your blog sometimes, but we just launched a brand new newspaper, Maize Free Press, and I would really like your opinion on it.

Here’s the front page Joey sent me.

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What might be fun would be a peek at our correspondence over this weekend.

My reply:

Hi, Joey!

Wow — what a great looking front page! That’s certainly head-and-shoulders beyond most weeklies I’ve seen.

Several years ago, my friend Doug Jessmer was out of work. He walked into a tiny weekly in St. Pete, Fla., and volunteered to redesign their paper — just to have something to do.


For years, I’ve used the pages he did there to illustrate what can be done by a tiny weekly if they set their mind to it.

This is extraordinary, though. In particular, I love your furniture items: The nameplate, the skyboxes and the index along the bottom.

The one thing I might question would be your headline font. Is that Melior? You might want to find a serif font that gives you more weights and is slightly more condensed. Your serif headlines seem a bit small, but that’s an optical illusion caused by the font. A condensed font appears a bit larger and might give you one or two more characters per line when you’re composing them. I’m sure there are some low-cost options out there.

For that skybox at the upper left, too: I’d decrease the leading and punch up the size of the letterforms themselves. I like white space, but that skybox seems a bit too airy.

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Really nice stuff, though. In particular, the photo work is remarkable. You don’t often see shots like this in a weekly.


This is a powerful lesson in the need for good art. Better ingredients makes for better pizza.

Very cool!

Joey’s replies included these points:

Thank you for your thoughts. I am going to look at the headline fonts and see if we can’t come up with something better. You make a good point with the skybox and propose a pretty good solution there too.

The spacing issue in the skybox should be an easy fix. Joey obviously knows his way around a layout program, so you can bet that’ll be addressed for the Nov. 8 issue.

The serif headline font might be a little tougher. He’s on a budget, so a free or shareware font might be a good idea. Assuming he doesn’t already have something in house that will work. I walked him through an idea or two for how to find out.

If you have suggestions, though, feel free to comment on this post.

Joey was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer some questions for us:

Q: How is it your photos look so great? Are you working with a professional? Or did you just get lucky?

A: The photos are amazing and they are courtesy of Fred Solis, our full-time writer/photo editor (we all wear several hats at a weekly) and he was the only full-time employee at the newspaper when we purchased it.


I had a prior relationship with him because I used to run the weekly for the old owners so we were thrilled when Fred decided to stay on for us.



He has a photo journalism degree from the University of Kansas and we are lucky to have him in the fold.

Q: What can you tell me about your operation that’s not a trade secret? Was this your first edition? Do you have a staff? Where does your content come from? Can you tell me a little about your previous work?

A: My operation is small but effective.

My wife and I purchased The Clarion, a small weekly newspaper in South Central Kansas in June of 2012. The newspaper is my wife’s hometown newspaper and she teaches yearbook, journalism, debate, forensics and public speaking at one of the high schools we cover. I used to work for the old owners and their newspaper group before I left to be a page designer at The Hutchinson News.


I spent some time there, but missed being an all around do it all journalist and asked to purchase the newspaper from my old boss. He agreed eventually and my wife and I became the youngest newspaper owners in Kansas at 28-years-old.

Since taking over the newspaper, we have hired two employees, an ad rep and a managing editor. Adam Strunk is our new managing editor and he is a graduate from the University of Kansas Journalism School…


…and he is a dynamic young journalist. He is from our area and we wanted him to help us launch the new Maize Free Press when we recruited him from the Lawrence Journal World where he was working as a reporter.

Adam has redesigned our website,


…and launched


…all while writing and managing the news team. We couldn’t have launched this new newspaper without him.

The Maize Free Press is brand new and launched Friday. The Clarion always covered Maize, but the coverage was split between several small towns along Kansas Highway 96. Maize used to be one square mile, but now has blown up to nine square miles in just a few years. Maize no longer fit in with the rural agricultural towns in The Clarion, so we wanted to do a suburban weekly model.

As for our content, we generate it by being a part of the community and getting out there and meeting with the people. It is hard work, but worth it at the end of the week. We only have three people who contribute copy on a regular basis, Fred, Adam and myself, with my wife helping out and an occasional stringer writing up something.

Despite being small, we keep a full editorial page with a weekly editorial, columns and cartoon, which is rare for a paper our size. We have taken the super local approach to journalism and think it has helped our company grow along with the emphasis on photography and design because, as you know, no one wants to pick something up that doesn’t look good.

That is probably far more than you wanted to know, but I am passionate about our products and sometimes drone on sometimes.

Again, a big reason I have been able to learn what I have about visual journalism is through your blog, looking at Newseum, and NewsPageDesigner. I only have a two-year degree and took a full-time job right after JUCO at a local weekly. The only experience I had was stringing and being on the Hutchinson Community College newspaper staff, so I learned on the job and then eventually got good through studying online materials like your blog until I got a job at the Hutchinson News as a designer. That is where I got better because I had to do it every day.

I am nowhere near talented enough to do some of the stuff I see on your blog and on Newseum, but I like to think we are a pretty good looking weekly.

Good looking indeed.

Cool superhero cover alert

It’s Comic Con time in Boston this weekend. The alt-weekly tab there, Dig Boston, celebrated with variant covers.

This one by noted comics artist Ed McGuinness shows Superman and a grown-up Fionna from the Adventure Time TV show…


…while this one by Shelli Paroline — an artist for Adventure Time — depicts Fionna in a bit more recognizable form, returning the favor.


Both Paroline and McGuinness live in the suburbs of Boston. And both artists will be at the convention.

Read more about the covers here. Find an interview with the founder of the Boston Comic Con here.

Omaha’s Jay St. Pierre moving to Chicago Tribune’s RedEye

Sports designer extraordinaire Jay St. Pierre announced via Facebook this week:

Well, it’s official: I took a design job at RedEye, a Chicago Tribune publication, and am moving to The Windy City in June!!!


It’s been an amazing two years in Omaha, and I cannot thank the people at The World-Herald enough for everything they did for my career.

A 2009 graduate of Louisiana State University, Jay worked as a sportswriter, a copy editor, a page designer and as associate managing editor for the school’s student paper, the Daily Reveille. He also served as a sports stringer for Sports Illustrated On Campus, as a design intern for the Colorado Springs Gazette and as editor of Legacy magazine.

He spent several months as a designer and copy editor for the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., before moving back to Colorado Springs in 2010. He moved to the World-Herald of Omaha in July, 2011.

A few samples of his work:






Find Jay’s portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

Our first ‘Iron Man 3’ features treatment

My pal James A. Molnar of the Toledo (Ohio) Free Press Star writes:

I’m excited to share with you our Summer Movies package. Once again, Iron Man is center stage.

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I found a cool photo of Iron Man sitting on a couch and thought I’d add popcorn, as if he’s watching a movie. My editor, Michael S. Miller, asked me to put him in a theater and we went from there.

For the inside, I was given a bounty of room (even if two were black-and-white pages).

Here’s page four…

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…page five…

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…page seven…

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…and page eight.

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James adds that he…

…can’t wait to see Iron Man 3 on the big screen. I’m hoping for cool 3-D glasses, too.


A 2009 graduate of Marquette in Milwaukee, Wis., James served as a reporter, designer and then visual content editor for the student paper there, the Marquette Tribune. He spent a couple of months as a designer and editor for the Daily of Chatauqua, N.Y. and then seven months as an apprentice optician at Eyeglass World in Toledo before catching on at the Free Press in 2010 as lead designer.

A few previous blog posts featuring James Molnar’s work at the Free Press Star:

April 12: Pro tip: Never made a ‘mud hen’ angry

Oct. 31, 2012: A handful of happy Halloween page treatments

April 30, 2012: Stirring up a little visual excitement with the Avengers movie

April 5, 2012: A starting lineup of the day’s best Opening Day front pages

Oct. 28, 2011: Four great Halloween features page treatments

May 11, 2011: A fun summer movie package by a Toledo weekly

Nov. 19, 2010: Just wild about Harry …Potter movie treatments, that is

Oct. 29, 2010: More BOO-tiful Halloween-themed pages

Find his blog here, his portfolio here and his Twitter feed here.

So, are you doing anything cool for the new Iron Man 3 movie that opens Friday? Send me the page.

Edgy cartoonist protests cancellation by Boston alt-weekly

The sequence of events…

1. Karl Stevens — writer and artist of a graphic novel-like comic strip called Failure that’s run, in various forms, in the alt-weekly Boston Phoenix since 2005 — makes fun of a product sold by one of the paper’s biggest advertisers, Bud Light beer.

2. The paper cancels the strip. As Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein report today in the Boston Globe‘s Names Blog:

Art director Kristen Goodfriend, told him Tuesday that the comic was being killed, and specifically mentioned the strip slamming Bud Light. “She said they had a problem with that,” he said, referring to the paper’s editors.

3. The paper’s editor-in-chief, Carly Carioli, denies that was the reason he killed the strip. In fact, the editor tells the Comics Reporter that the Phoenix recently converted from a tabloid to a magazine format and that he and Stevens had held a number of conversations lately on the future of the strip.

It is inaccurate that Karl has been “let go.” While he is not now nor has he ever been on staff, at the time that we discontinued Failure we offered him a continuing role as an illustrator — he has been illustrating features in the magazine outside of Failure, and in fact he illustrates a major feature appearing in tomorrow’s issue.

Stevens began drawing a weekly strip called Whatever for the Phoenix in 2005. In 2008, he started a second strip called Succe$$ and ended Whatever the year after. In 2009, he created the current strip, Failure. Comics Reporter reports:

Failure won the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies award for Best Cartoon in 2010. He was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize that same year, for The Lodger.

That book was a collection of strips from Failure.

Find Failure‘s online archive here.

The takeaways from this?

a) If you go out of your way to be offensive, you may actually offend someone one day.

b) What flies in an alt-weekly tabloid may not fly in a weekly magazine format.

c) I’ve had Bud Light. “Diluted horse piss” seems a bit imprecise. I’d call it: Diluted Clydesdale piss.

After he’s fired by the Village Voice, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow melts down on Twitter

Cartoonist Dan Perkins — who works under the pen name Tom Tomorrow — is perhaps the best-known cartoonist in the world of alternative weeklies. His editorial strip, This Modern World, began in 1990 in SF Weekly and was eventually carried by as many as 80 papers — most notably, the Village Voice of New York.

His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Mother Jones, Esquire, U.S. News and World Report, the Daily Kos and Spin. He’s published nine volumes of collected strips; the most recent: 2011’s Too Much Crazy.

But in 2005, a new corporate owner based in Phoenix bought Perkins’ flagship client, the Village Voice. The latest casualty in the recent company-wide faceplant at New Times Media — now named Village Voice Media — was the popular Modern World strip.

When Perkins was informed Friday evening his strip would no longer run in the Voice, he took to Twitter for a very public, revenge-driven, obscenity-laced meltdown that indeed illustrates this modern world.

Perkins took the opportunity to plug Sparky’s List, his new project to deliver cartoons directly to readers before they appear in print.

His business priorities addressed, Perkins launched into his tirade.

He made the first of several references to understanding he really shouldn’t be doing this so publicly.

He also made a cryptic reference to something he will announce soon.

Perkins later admitted he was a little off: This Modern World started its run in the Village Voice in 1997.

He said he was done on Twitter for the night…

…But not quite. The target was simply too inviting.

Eventually, he did take a couple of hours off to watch a DVD with his son…

…but once Earth was saved, Perkins picked up his rant where he left off.

Perkins tossed kudos to Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos.

And he found himself encouraged by the folks signing up for his paid list.

Despite his grievances — don’t get me wrong, he seems perfectly justified — Perkins sounded like a jilted lover, getting smackered at a bar and drunk-texting his ex.

However, he did show awareness that he was causing a scene.

Some of his followers admitted they were enjoying the spectacle.

At that point, Perkins switched to a more reflective bent.

By this time, the New York media had picked up the story. The Observer reported it couldn’t reach Perkins for comment. Which sent him off on another rant.

The Observer reporter quickly acknowledged his error…

…and the story was amended.

Meanwhile, Perkins had signed up so many new list members that his economic loss from the Village Voice was nearly covered.

And that made him awfully reflective about the events of the evening.

So Perkins’ evening ended on a high note.

So after a very public meltdown like that, how does one respond the next morning? The only way you can, of course: With humor.

Yeah, maybe a couple. Plus, Perkins wrote:


While all this was very amusing — painful, but still amusing — to watch as it unfolded, let me make this clear: Dan Perkins is Tom Tomorrow. He’s a very famous, internationally-known cartoonist. You and I are not.

So when you or I get laid off, we should not attempt anything like this on Twitter or Facebook. What might be endearing for a famously iconoclastic left-wing alt-weekly cartoonist might not be so damned cute coming from a mid-level print designer or copy editor or graphic artist or photographer.

And hiring editors would really dislike finding something like this on your Twitter feed if they happen to Google the name they find at the top of your resumé.

So be advised: Take care with what you say or post. Or tweet.

For further reading…

Cool cover illustration alert

The publication: SF Weekly, an alternative weekly based in San Francisco.

The story: The battle over copyright standards like the Stop Online Piracy Act, the Protect IP Act and others of that ilk.

The cover:

Note that the cover — and the cover copy — is reversable.

The illustrator: The art director of SF Weekly, Andrew J. Nilsen. Who’s most definitely channeling Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohías, the originator of Mad magazine’s Spy vs. Spy feature.

Another nice touch: Notice both of the knifefighters are wearing “hoodies.”

A few more samples of Andrew’s cover illustration work:




Find Andrew’s Tumblr blog here and his Twitter feed here.

Thanks to marketing consultant Alan Stamm for the tip.

At the very least, I hope that guy bought the gun dinner first

This past week’s alt-weekly Orlando Weekly certainly had an interesting cover illustration: A man French-kissing a gun.

Orlando Weekly‘s Dave Plotkin blogged about the cover, how it came to be and showed preliminary sketches. Read all about it here. Find the actual story — about Florida’s gun laws — here.

The illustration itself is by Philadelphia-based artist James Heimer. A few samples of his work:



Find James’ web site here.

I found this via the Association of Alternate Newsweeklies’ Twitter feed.

New S.F. Examiner design director promoted from within

The San Francisco Examiner announced today is is promoting arts and entertainment and special projects designer Brooke Robinson to design director.

An unbylined story posted today reports that Brooke will oversee design at both the Examiner and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, which the Examiner is in the process of buying.

The story states:

Since joining the newspaper in 2008, Robertson has been a mainstay on the design desk, helping launch the Extra entertainment section in the Thursday and Sunday editions that debuted in February. She has been the lead designer on several special publications, including the recently published summer arts preview.

A 2008 graduate of Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, Brooke served as arts editor of the school’s student newspaper, the Mustang Daily. Upon graduation, she was given the school’s Armistead B. Carter Service Award for outstanding students in journalism. She interned as a reporter for the weekly Santa Maria Sun and also edited a special “student guide” section for the New Times, a local alt-weekly, in 2008.

That fall, she began work for the Examiner, as a copy editor, designer and multimedia editor. A few samples of her work:




Find her NewsPageDesigner portfolio here and her web site here.

On the front of today’s tbt* tabloid: Not exactly a horrific crime story

tbt* — the free, youth-oriented tabloid published in St. Petersburg by the Tampa Bay Times — has a very unusual front page today. Check it out:

That — and the bullet hole art — really gets your attention. The only clue that the story might not have a horrific ending is the little yellow text across the bottom, telling us that, on page 10 is:

The funniest home invasion story you’ll ever read

Normally, I’d synopsize the story and give you a link. However, I can’t find the story on the tbt* web site. Therefore, I’m going to show you the story from page 10. If you can’t read this, click on it for a larger version:

Very funny. And a masterful job by tbt* of taking what is just a fun brite and turning it into a cover story.

The tbt* tab does a great job of pushing stories on page one and of writing clever headlines designed to pull in folks who might not read a more standard-type headline. These three appear to be naughty…


…while these two are simply in your face:


One of the most outstanding tbt* front pages — indeed, one of the more interesting front pages I’ve ever seen — would be this open letter to the parents of a teenage girl who had appeared to kill a homeless woman in a hit-and-run accident in 2009.

The story behind the front page is rather complicated. Go read about it here.

Find the tbt* web site here. Average daily distribution of tbt* is about 80,000 copies.

The front page is from the Newseum. Of course.

The year’s most deliciously naughty alt-weekly tab covers

Over at the Society of Professional Designers, magazine design guru Robert Newman has been posting the year’s best alt-weekly tab covers.

A few of them we saw here in the blog this past year. Like, for example, the “comics issue” front of the Village Voice by master illustrator Ward Sutton:

Or this amusing look at the predicted End of the World last May, featuring Jesus Christ as a Jack Kirby-style Galactus:

That was illustrated by Tak Toyoshima, Dig‘s creative director and creator/illustrator of Secret Asian Man comics.

But thanks to Robert’s efforts, I’m seeing this one for the first time:

That’s Alexander Flores of the Dallas Observer with a not-so-subtle editorial comment on the way the city’s animal shelter has been operated.

Here’s another great one: A fabulous idea by Andrew J. Nilsen of the San Francisco Weekly illustrating a story on the sometimes shady business of donation stores:

But catching my eye today in particular are two super-naughty cover illustrations, the kind you can pretty much only get away with if you work for an alt-weekly.

There’s this one by art director Miche Ratto of the Broward/Palm Beach New Times, illustrating sex clubs:

And my very favorite, this clever cover by Diane Sullivan of Seven Days of Burlington, Vt.:

As the instructions say, fold the cover — á la Mad magazine — so “A” meets “B” to reveal the real cover illo:

Oh, that’s just filthy. And brilliant. I hope this wins some type of award.

Find Robert’s Top Ten Alternative Weekly covers here and his picks for runners-up here.

Pittsburgh alt-weekly prints Spanish edition as a protest

As a protest, this week’s Spanish edition of the Pittsburgh City Paper will get plenty of attention.

The edition is a reaction to yet another proposal by a state legislator — Republican RoseMarie Swanger — to make English the official language of the state.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Mackenzie Carpenter reports:

“We were having a little fun because this discussion always takes place in English,” [said City Paper editor Chris Potter], noting that English translation is available online.

“It’s nice to do a print version in Spanish first and then make readers go to their computers if they want to read the story in English, because it’s usually the other way around. You have these conversations about Spanish-speaking residents, about what services should be available to them, and so forth, written in a language unfamiliar to them,” he added.

Cute. And Potter certainly makes a point. But just like anything else that inserts a layer between the reader and the story — I’m looking at you, Spadeas, stickers, pop up and crawl-over ads — I wonder if it’ll just cause English-language readers to shrug and skip the story entirely.

The issue features stories that celebrate Hispanic culture. My favorite is the inside back page, in which two immigrants from Mexico talk about why they feel the proposed English-only laws are racist.

The cover illustration, by the way, is by Pittsburgh-based Ed Piskor, most famed, perhaps, as an artists for Harvey Pekar‘s American Splendor comics. Find Ed’s web site here.

Find a free e-edition of this week’s City Paper here.

Find the Post-Gazette story about the Spanish edition here.

Thanks to the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for tweeting about this today. Find AAN’s blog here and its Twitter feed here.

Steve Cavendish named editor of weekly Nashville City Paper

Longtime visual journalist Steve Cavendishlaid off this summer by the Chicago Tribune — is returning home to become editor of a weekly newspaper in Nashville.

Business site Nashville Post reported Wednesday:

“I am excited Steve is coming home to Nashville to take the helm of The City Paper. Steve brings years of experience at some of the best newspapers in the country,” said SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell. “I am looking forward to working with him to continue to make The City Paper the best source of local news coverage in Nashville.”

“Nashville is home for me. To be able to join a talented staff like The City Paper’s is a thrill,” Cavendish said. “Nashville needs strong newspapers to hold our leaders accountable, to inform our citizens and to help them understand the world around them. And if we need to explain how a Cover Two defense works, we’ll do that, too.”

A 1993 graduate of Belmont University in Nashville, Steve served as assistant design editor for the Nashville Banner before moving to the San Jose Mercury News as A1 designer. He later became the Merc’s news design director. He moved to the Washington Post in 1999, working as news editor and lead sports designer before moving again to the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times in 2002 as art and presentation director.

Steve has also long been active in the Society for News Design. Scroll back through your copies of Design magazine of in the archives of the SND web site. You’ll find a lot of stories and columns written by Steve.

He moved to the Chicago Tribune in 2004 and serving as its graphics editor and then presentation director. A year or so ago, he moved into a position in which he also did a fair amount of editing and writing — primarily for the features sections. He was one of the main forces behind the Tribune‘s food blog, the Stew.

The Tribune announced back in July it was laying off a number of staffers. Steve announced via Facebook he would be one of them.

Last night on Facebook, it was an elated C-Dish who posted:

I appreciate the good wishes from everyone. I’m excited about the gig, sad to leave good friends here, excited to see old friends back home and thankful for all of them.

And despite everything, it seems like it may have been a pretty decent summer for the Cavendishes. He and his wife, Jennifer, spent her birthday earlier this month in Paris.

That’s Paris, France, not Paris, Texas.

Find Steve’s Twitter feed here.

Find the Nashville City Paper web site here.

Baltimore Sun’s free daily ‘b’ youth tab going weekly

Poynter’s Jim Romenesko reports today that b — the free youth tab published daily by the Baltimore Sun — will be switching to weekly publication next month.

Already, the spinning has started. Romenesko reports that Don Farley — publisher of the weekly Baltimore City Paper — says:

Obviously cutting back to one issue is admitting it’s a failure.

Yet, Tim Ryan — publisher of the Sun — claims:

This move acknowledges younger consumers’ media habits — they go online repeatedly throughout the day. Leading up to the weekend, they invest more time looking for information in print and planning their free time. Changing our format better aligns with their routines.

Hmm. Not a well-thought-out statement. Sounds a lot like: “Well, hell, the kids weren’t reading us anyway. So to hell with it.”

Here was b‘s own announcement on page two of today’s issue:

The switch will take place with the July 13 issue — two weeks from yesterday.

In case you’re wondering, b has been around for a little more than three years. Former Virginian-Pilot intern Timothy Wong was the tabloid’s first art director. He departed last summer for the Washington Business Journal.

I’ve not kept up with b at all since then. A few of Tim’s wonderful cover designs, for the record:

Find b‘s online site here.

Find the Baltimore edition of City Paper here.

Find Jim Romenesko’s story here.