11.28.2007

Sacked by the City Paper

I've been doing spot illustrations for Savage Love every week in the Washington City Paper since the summer of 2000. It's my oldest regular gig, and my favorite...the column gives me tons of great material to work with, and has resulted in literally hundreds of hilarious ideas and images. I'd be hard-pressed to think of a better job.

Last summer, the City Paper (along with the Chicago Reader) was purchased by the folks at Creative Loafing, a chain of weeklies with papers in Atlanta, Charlotte, Tampa, and Sarasota. I suppose changes were inevitable, and the one I personally dreaded most has come to pass. As of the end of 2007, I'll no longer be illustrating Savage Love in the City Paper. I think it's more of a budget thing than a they-think-I-suck thing, but it's nevertheless devastating and depressing. The thing that bothers me most, aside from the practical implications of the loss of income, is the thought that there was a line item on some spreadsheet that said "Savage Love: Illustration", and that some guy in a suit just crossed through it with a red pen, and just like that, it was over.

I'm biased, sure, but I think that the illos I did brought a little something extra to the column...and I don't think I'm 100% alone in having that opinion. Anytime I do a show in the capital region, whether it's SPX, Baltimore Comicon, or the City Paper's own Crafty Bastards, I have people come up to me all day and tell me how much they enjoy the spots. It's very flattering, and I'm extremely grateful.

Anyway, if you're one of the people who likes your seedy sex advice served with a little graphic blandishment, you should make your voice heard, and contact them them here. Write the City Paper a letter or shoot them an email asking them to reconsider and keep running the Savage spots. And if you're a reader in one of the other cities Creative Loafing calls home, drop them a line and request that they add Savage Love to their paper. It might not do any good, but you'll have my eternal gratefulness.

And of course, if you do write, don't forget to be polite.

Thanks.

(EDITED to include a few links to recent Savage Love spots.)

23 comments:

Ben Towle said...

That news sucks an entire bag of dicks... Sorry to hear about that. I know that had to be a fun job.

-B.

Daniel said...

I agree, sex advice is always better with illustrations. Good luck with whatever comes next.

Owen said...

I wish they'd hire you to illustrate Savage's columns at the A.V. Club.

Justin Gammon said...

Rob, you do great work, and I hate to hear you're losing your T&A illustration gig.

Things will come around. No worries.

Nate MC said...

that blows!

Does this mean your not going to be in The Stranger as well?

Shon Richards said...

That really stinks. I'm going to go politely harass them now.

Robert Ullman said...

God bless the lot a' yuz!

willy willions said...

This completely blows. I'm also curious though, about whether you'll still be in the Stranger (small consolation, since it means less money for same work).

Anonymous said...

Robert:

Dunno if you remember me frm the old TCJ days, but I have enjoyed your CP work for years. I will be making my dissatisfaction known.

John E Williams

Josh Latta said...

I 'm sorry to hear this Rob-

Mike said...

I just sent it a letter of complaint, and encourage everyone to do so. It can't hurt and may help.

Mike

Dembicki said...

Hey, Rob

I'm definitely gonna let 'em know about their short-sightedness. I remember you told me you were concerned about it, but I didn't think they'd really go ahead and do it. Loved your work not only for the column but for the ocassional cover, too. Can't believe "alternative" newspapers are going corporate, now. Maybe they'll just plug a "Family Circus" strip to replace your illos.

Matt D.

Erin said...

i'll send 'em a letter. your illustrations are awesome, and sacking you was a huge mistake. i will tell others to write in as well.

good luck...

chris hope said...

sorry to hear that Rob, dang.

Devon Sanders said...

This sucks. I honestly can't imagine Savage Love without you.

I'm definitely writing.

Best,
Devon

Brian Ralph said...

terrible.
all illustrators should boycott those bullshit alt-weekly gigs. me included.

Tom said...

That's a bunch of crap. Frickin' stoopid alt-weeklies.

Zach Trenholm said...

(re; Drawn) Done. Good luck---hope they reconsider... ZT

Robert Ullman said...

Hey, everybody! Yeah, it's a real pisser all around, but I really appreciate the compliments and support, and many, many thanks to everyone who shot a letter their way. I've heard nothing yet, and while I don't really expect a reprieve, I'm humbled by so many folks taking the time to help me out.

Zadillo said...

I didn't know about this until reading last week's City Paper, where they printed a couple of letters from people complaining about the end of your illustrations for Savage Love. As pretty much everyone else has said, this definitely sucks, and I hope the City Paper will reconsider.

I actually specifically associate your illustrations with Savage Love - I didn't realize you were a local artist or just did it for the City Paper. I realized that when I was checking out the official Savage Love site at the Stranger and saw that they use other illustrations.

I'm curious if you've been in touch with Dan Savage or any other papers (or even the Stranger)? I can't be the only one who thinks that your illustrations are a perfect match for the column - just because the City Paper doesn't see this, I would hope someone somewhere would recognize it.

Deb said...

Hey, that does suck. Saw this on drawn, came over to your blog, then went over and sent a letter to the editor via that link. Here it is:

City Paper,

Too bad you've decided to get rid of the illustrations by Ullmann---I've heard about the decision on the art/illustration/cartooning blog Drawn (drawn.ca) but I live in the DC area and pick up the City Paper every week. The City Paper's quality of art goes through good/great/poor cycles. One of the first pages I flip to is the column, and I always get a kick out of Ullmann's skillful and smart drawings. They're perfectly coupled with column and will be missed. Why cut them at all? Consider having Ullmann continue illustrating it.

Space and money is wasted on other lesser features, a notable example being Red Meat by Max Cannon.

Deborah Orgel

Rui Sousa said...

he,he, great!
nice 2008

joe of rockville said...

Sorry you lost that gig, but it's not just you. a lot of toons were dropped from this rag. That was the main reason I pick it up. I live in the 'burbs and the boxes at the Metro station have been empty the last 2 weeks. This dumb ass way of cost cutting will lose business.