At left you’ll notice a cartoon that will debut on Sunday’s Opinion page. The drawing may be unfamiliar to some, but the illustrator’s roots are deep enough here that I think you’ll find some connection with our new contributor.
The cartoon’s creator is Frank Shiers, Jr., a Bremerton native, Puget Sound radio personality and longtime cartoonist for a group of weekly newspapers that publish in Kitsap County. You also may recognize him from a story we published almost a year ago this weekend, after he landed a gig hosting KIRO FM’s “Northwest Nights” from 7 to 11 p.m. weeknights on 97.3.
Now he’s with us, and you’ll see his comment on a local issue each Sunday on this page, as well as the occasional state cartoon on weekdays.
Shiers joins current editorial page contributor Abell Smith, the Kingston illustrator who has filed a cartoon every other week since March. Having two local editorial cartoonists brings more community dialogue to our Sunday Opinion page. That’s right in line with the mission we’ve preached for years in the Sun, which we’ve emphasized more often recently as we’ve honed our focus on local news, sports and opinion.
As you’ll see in coming weeks, interpreting Kitsap’s issues and opinions comes easily to Shiers. Despite living on the east side and focusing his radio content on regional issues, Shiers, who was born at Harrison and is a 1973 grad of West High, still owns property in the area, visits Bremerton almost weekly, and has been published in various Kitsap County newspapers continuously since 1981. The law firm his father founded is still in Port Orchard, in fact.
But Shiers didn’t get the job because he’s from around here. His work shows a sense of the issues in Kitsap County and the state, and his comment can range from county politics to social issues or even sports, whether poking fun or provoking thought and emotion. He describes his political viewpoint as “center-right,” but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Today’s volley from Shiers is on the state level, but expect to see commentary with a distinctly Kitsap focus in the coming weeks. I hope you enjoy having more local commentary on the Sunday Opinion page, whatever your political stripe may be, and as always let me know what you think in the comments below.
…On Another Note, an Abrupt Switch In the
Many of you have noticed that on Sept. 20 a swap was made on our daily comics page, with the new strip “Freshly Squeezed” replacing “One Big Happy.”
The new cartoon is a new project by Ed Stein, a national syndicated editorial cartoonist and former Rocky Mountain News illustrator. It was chosen to bring a fresh voice to that page, something we don’t do often with a section that has its loyalists and is part of that morning tradition that makes a daily newspaper part of so many lives.
But none of you knew about the change until it happened. That’s not the place for a surprise, given that loyalty and routine that surrounds the comics, so I apologize for the lack of fair warning. My fault.
Bringing in the new strip was a chance to add something I thought comic fans would enjoy, and I made a decision to replace a strip I didn’t feel had the spark, wit or tradition some of our others do. Frankly, our focus as a newsroom now is on daily gathering of local content and long-range planning. There were days when we could spend time debating the popularity of various strips, surveying comic readers, never reaching a decision that pleases all, and trying to second-guess potential complaints — we no longer have that time. That doesn’t excuse the lack of notice, but I hope it explains the process.
We’re sticking with “Freshly Squeezed,” a storyline about a modern family dealing with a living situation too familiar these days that I hope resonates here. I hope you comics fans give it a fair chance, even as some of you smart from how the change was handled.