Archive for September, 2015

Auchter Editorial Cartoons on MLive: Update and Next Steps

As you may recall back in May, budget cuts at MLive reduced my cartoons from every Sunday paper to one Sunday per month. It was both disappointing and shortsighted — you’d think that newspaper owners would want more uniquely popular, original content, not less. Alas for me, budgets tend only to consider numbers, and the numbers say print revenue is not growing. But they do say that online revenue is growing.

So to create a measurable sample to prove the value of online cartoons, I continued to provide one cartoon per week (along with a supporting article) for free. These were posted every Saturday morning on (as you know from the links I’ve been sending all summer). As far as my editors and I can tell, the experiment has been a success. (Again, alas for me, my editors are not the ones making budget decisions.)

Next Steps
The online metrics data are now available to those MLive folks who set the budgets. I have met with my managing editor, Todd Fettig, and loaded him up with compelling, financially sound reasons for paying me to provide weekly editorial cartoons both online and in print. I have also strongly encouraged him to include the thoughtful, persuasive emails many of you sent him back in May.

Todd is advocating my case. There is no specific deadline for results; I am hopeful for a spark of reason soon from within the corporate machinery. My only leverage:

  • I am only drawing what I’m paid to draw. (No more free stuff)
  • I am using my “not drawing” time to seek other cartooning opportunities.
  • Any additional support you guys can provide. You can feel free to write Todd (, but it might be more helpful to go up the chain and contact MLive President, Dan Or contact your local MLive newspaper:

Bottom Line
I continue to deeply appreciate your interest and support. Thank you!

Sincerely and respectfully,


Fortunately for Colleges and Universities

Fortunately for Colleges and Universities


Also posted online at, September 12, 2015


MLive had an interesting article this week about rising college costs, along with a slideshow of the biggest increases in room and board in Michigan. As a parent of college-age students, I felt it hit a chord. And by “hit a chord,” I mean “made me draw a cranky editorial cartoon.” Which I did.

The truth is, my feelings are much more nuanced on the subject. Take my alma mater, Michigan Tech, for instance: I graduated with manageable debt and a degree that has returned value over and over in my career. Not this career — the cartooning gig has always been freelance and is largely self-taught. I have the artistic prowess you might expect from somebody with a bachelor’s degree in Scientific and Technical Communications with a minor in Metallurgical Engineering. (Although I did draw for the school newspaper.)

But would a Michigan Tech degree be worth the price if I were getting that degree now —especially at those room and board prices? Maybe. Could I afford it? I don’t know.

Actually, the cartoon is more a crack about what K-12 education has been forced to become than it is about higher education. A few years ago I did a cartoon that was a variation on the same theme.

Not quite as mean, but just as cranky.


Rampant Epidemic in Michigan

Rampant Epidemic in Michigan

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News September 6, 2015

Also posted online at, September 5, 2015

The Mental Health Foundation of West Michigan has this brilliant campaign called “be nice.” It is a mental health awareness, bullying and suicide prevention initiative that focuses on change through simple, daily actions. It is really where the rubber hits the road for making a real, positive difference. The primary audience for “be nice” is youth in schools, but certainly the principles can apply to all ages.

Still, not all people learn the same. I’m afraid the “be nice” approach might not resonate with many of us middle-aged men. Perhaps there should be a program designed specifically for us. Let’s call it “Don’t Be a D—.” Crude? Yes. Negative? Absolutely. But it may be exactly what is needed to get through.

Listen, Virgil Smith Jr. did what he did and he still has the audacity to show up for his job as a senator. Todd Courser is not only showing up, he is actively trying to take the system down with him. It is obvious that cajoling and appealing to better sense won’t dislodge either of these guys. It’s time to say to them, “You’re being a d—. Don’t be a d—. Do the right thing. Resign. Start over. Rebuild your lives. For yourself, for your family, for the state of Michigan.”

Oh. And apologies to my father, Richard. Growing up, I got into more than a few fights defending the honor of his nickname. People may call him Dick, but he was (and is) anything but one. Of course then, he is the guy who named me John, which has had its own set of issues …