The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has hired a cartoonist to replace Rob Rogers, who was fired in June after a number of his political cartoons — mostly critical of President Trump — were killed.
Steve Kelley, an award-winning syndicated cartoonist who also co-authors the popular syndicated comic strip Dustin (which runs daily in the Inquirer and the Daily News) has been hired by the paper.
"Since my grandfather acquired the Post-Gazette in 1923, cartooning has been a hallowed tradition of this newspaper," John Robinson Block, the publisher and editor-in-chief, said in a statement.
Kelley, who describes himself as a "right of center" cartoonist, said he received a call out of the blue from the paper's editorial director, Keith Burris. Several interviews later, Kelley accepted the job, which will be his first staff cartoonist position since he was laid off in 2012 from the New Orleans Times-Picayune. His first cartoon will appear in the Post-Gazette on Nov. 4, and he will draw five original cartoons a week for the newspaper.
"Although I'm not up to speed yet on local politics, I know it won't take long," Kelley said. "I'm looking so forward to joining the staff of a storied newspaper in a thriving city."
Rogers, who spent 25 years drawing political cartoons for the Post-Gazette, lost his job after six cartoons in a row — and 19 total since March — were killed. Despite the newspaper's contention that Rogers' dismissal had "little to do with politics, ideology or Donald Trump," Rogers said hiring Kelley suggested the paper had a problem with his criticism of the president.
"His politics have always been more conservative than mine, but I have always thought highly of his work," Rogers said. "It just confirms my belief that I was fired for political reasons."
Kelley might be more right-leaning in his political views, but he's not been afraid to criticize Trump. In a recent cartoon, he mocked Trump for using the term horseface to describe Stormy Daniels, who claims the president paid her $130,000 to stay quiet about an affair the two allegedly had in 2006. Kelley said he wasn't concerned about having cartoons critical of the president killed.
"[Burris] has reviewed a lot of my work from the past few years and has expressed his belief that I am compatible generally with the newspaper's editorial page," Kelley said. "There needs to be general agreement on major issues and the expectation that when rare disagreements arise, we'll be able to resolve them amicably. That is how I worked in New Orleans and never had a significant problem."
Rogers, who has been friends with Kelley for more than 30 years and has yet to land a new full-time cartoonist job, continues to mock Trump regularly in his nationally syndicated cartoons and has a new book of his work scheduled to be released next month by IDW Publishing.
"Nevertheless, I wish Steve all the best," Rogers added. "I hope they treat him better than they treated me in those final months."