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Reaction to AG Cancellation

4Rilla at Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 6:15 PM
I'll be the first to admit I did not always agree with your comics, but I certainly would read it every two weeks without fail.

Action Geek did put a unique and timely spin on Worcester in a short, interesting and different format and it is a shame that they are giving the comic the ax.

Your style stood out on their pages and was a needed social commentary for the city.

Mike at Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 4:42 PM
Man, this sucks.

Chris K at Tue, Dec 30, 2008 at 1:19 PM
Sorry to hear it Doug, at first the strip turned me off because it seemed reflexively negative, but over time I grew to like it quite a bit.

Paul Collyer - Paulie's Point of View at Mon, Dec 29, 2008 at 5:39 PM
I think this is less about driving creative folks away amd more that the general population in Worcester is fairly homogenous..we do not have an very large edgy, alternative community..

The goal is to keep the newspaper alive guys..unless you have owned a business it is hard to understand....when one is paying the bills $100 becomes a lot of money..

I can't make any money in his community..I am self employed in a edgy, alternative business:>)

(the above were comments received via my Action Geek Blog page)

"Worcester Magazine "slimes" cartoonist"
By Rosalie Tirella, December 29, 2008 - InCity Times online

So, the super rats at Worcester Magazine have dumped Wormtown cartoonist/chronicler Doug Chapel. Pathetic. They can certainly afford to pay Chapel the measly $100 per month for the two bi-weekly columns he drew for them. His cartoon doesn't even take up much space! (It was reduced from a half-page "strip" to coaster-size a while ago, making it hard to read/truly appreciate.) So instead of making the words/ideas even smaller, Jim Keogh and crew completely zapped it.

This has nothing to do with bucks. What Keogh and crew can't afford to do is publish a point of view that doesn't mirror theirs. Doug's point of view is cool but cranky; sometimes he's even critical of the way things go down in this city. But make no mistake, he's a Worcester lover. Why ban a fan? More important, why ban a fan who is young, artistic, committed to the city and respects/trusts his community enough to be 100% honest with readers?

Dougie, I feel your pain!

(the comment above received via the InCity Times website)

Robert Willey at Tue, Dec 30, 2008 at 8:22 PM
"Action Geek" was the only thing worth reading in Worcester Magazine. It is a loss of an important voice. Keep up the fight, Doug.

Wendy Chapel Griggs at Wed, Dec 31, 2008 at 9:32 AM
Doug I sorry that the new powers that be at WoMag want to stip away your strip. Just goes to show everybody once again that nobody wants to "see" the real Worcester. An insiders view such as yours is exactly what this community needed.

Brian Washburn at 2:10pm December 29
Sorry to hear that Doug... it sucks just as much as you say. But having been in the magazine business, I know a lot of publishers are really taking it on the chin. The Internets -- stuff like Craig's List, and businesses' own web sites -- have been sucking money out of the business.

I was in a situation like that in the recession in the early 1990s. The business I worked for at the time had some months where they had to make the painful decision to close an issue and put it to print, when they were losing money just to print & mail, never mind pay people's salaries.

The publisher chopped down the editorial space, and every column-inch was precious. We had good content we just couldn't publish, even though we'd gotten it at no charge, just because we didn't have any place to put it. (In the end the magazine title recovered but they poured a lot of money down the hole to make it happen.)

Pete DeGraaf at 2:30pm December 29
WoMag has been going downhill for a while. Now there's one less reason to pay attention to it.

Steve Moisan at 3:13pm December 29
I'm sorry to hear this, Doug.

I think you need to go to Hallmark and buy a generic condolence card and send it to WoMag. The inside should read, simply:

"Sorry for your loss"

Darius Kazemi at 5:10pm December 29
Oh, that really sucks, sorry to hear that. I didn't realize that they'd gotten rid of Goslow... although when I picked up the paper for the first time in a while last month (I was back in Worcester for the day), it certainly sucked a lot.

Joe Santa Maria at 6:35pm December 29
Hey Doug...why the hell did they email that info to you?? Seems like that would be a face to face or at least a phone call. Sorry to hear ..I love Action Geek.

Sean Ausmus at 7:19pm December 29
I've been a big fan of "Action Geek" since it began and I'm sorry to hear that WoMag canceled it. I hope that it can find another home because, as you said, there's really nothing else like it.

Dan Toomey at 7:31pm December 29
I'm sorry to hear it Doug. You've been a talent for a very long time. I'm going to hope that Worcester will retain my optimism, but I'll miss the old WoMag,badly.

Michael Zdanowicz at 9:08am December 29
Doug, Sorry to hear this! Don't give up the fight. It's what Angry 'Bot would of wanted.

Ron Belanger at 11:19am December 30
I've been reading some of the annotated Calvin and Hobbes re-issue stuff in which Bill Watterson goes on about the struggles he had with his editors and publishers while C&H was still being in published. While this womag issues is obviously on a smaller scale, same stuff at work.

Perhaps we should start a paper which puts cartoonists in charge, and the publisher on a bi-weekly stipend. Then we'd see less of this stuff at work?

Don't get discouraged, and keep putting it out.

(the above were comments received via my Facebook page)

...and, lest we forget...
a few more thoughtful reactions from Thanks.


It was the tail-end of what had been a great Saturday spent with my dad, my sister and my two nephews and I had a quiet evening with my girlfriend to look forward to when I foolishly looked at my e-mail. I opened up a letter from the editor of Worcester Magazine, a man by the name of Jim Keogh, who I've worked with at a newspaper called The Landmark years ago, and only since August of 2008 has been at the editorial helm of what's supposed to be the "alternative" newspaper in Worcester: Worcester Magazine.

In this e-mail, Jim informs me that my bi-weekly, twice a month editorial cartoon by the name of "Action Geek" is going to be cancelled. He tells me that the current publisher wanted to eliminate the cartoon immediately when The Landmark Corporation purchased Worcester Magazine back at the end of July and shit-canned most of its staff. But because of an impassioned impromptu phone call I made to Jim Keogh, not knowing of the publisher's desire to shit-can me as well, Jim decided to keep "Action Geek" as a part of the newspaper.

I had argued that if Worcester Magazine wanted to be "edgier" then keeping "Action Geek" only makes sense because in the comic strip, I'm a straight-shooting, no holds barred, take no shit cartoonist willing to say things as I see them, no matter how harsh the position I'm taking. And I've really come up with some doozies.

I argued that "Action Geek" was very unique in that no local newspaper around has anything like what "Action Geek" is. No one. I dare you to find a strip like mine. This isn't just slight bragging, but truth as well. Find a strip like mine. Isn't that the definition of unique?

I argued that not only was "Action Geek" a strong, no quarter asked none taken editorial comic strip, but also that no one else in Worcester does what I do. I drive a taxi cab 5 nights a week and create an editorial cartoon with a bite based on real life, real observations based on things seen, heard, experienced, thought about while in my taxicab. I've often invited Worcester City Councillors to come see the REAL Worcester by riding shotgun with me in the cab for a few hours some night. I've had a lengthy conversation with Mayor Lukes about real issues that were (are) facing my neighborhood and then she actually went and did something about it, that being an increase in police coverage in the Tatnuck Square area later at night. "Action Geek" doesn't just bitch about things, but actually has some small degree of "pull" in Worcester.

But "as we enter a new year, the idea is to start getting some new voices into the paper like we've been doing in the Arts and Entertainment section", says Mr. Keogh in this e-mail to me. "New voices". That's all fine and nice, but as I said before, isn't it UNIQUE to have an editorial in visual form (that being my "Action Geek" strip) by a local guy like me? The new additions to the Arts & Entertainment section haven't really made WoMag any more "edgy" than it was BEFORE the entire staff with the exception of Scott Zoback was fired and replaced by others. If anything, Worcester Magazine just continues to gut away all the things that COULD make it a real alternative, a real fun, creative, lively, essential read to Worcester people in general, but whatever...

This blog will be seen as just me whining.

There are those who have hated my strip for a long time (I've only done over 134 cartoons for Worcester Magazine, the first one was on Thursday, October 16, 2003) but continue to read it just the same who will be jumping up & down saying good riddance. So be it. I didn't do the strip to gain friends. I did it as an open, honest expression of my opinion on things. Maybe I spouted off stuff others didn't feel comfortable saying. Isn't one of the definitions of "edgy" - uncomfortable?

There are also those who will miss "Action Geek" for a while until it, like so many Worcester things, just fades into obscure memory of a few. I have a regular cab customer who works at Showcase North Cinemas who regularly reads "Action Geek" and talks the issues with me and from whom I've gotten alot of ideas from in return. Oh my god... a comic strip that helps to create an exchange of thoughts and ideas? Who woulda thunk?

This cancellation gets back to a general, continual Worcester theme in that talented, creative people who ARE edgy and opinionated and against the grain and not of the norm and who stand out and who don't care what you think and who will continue to create artwork regardless of what the bland mainstream majority think... creative people like this are pushed OUT of Worcester. The very things, the very people that Worcester NEEDS, Worcester rejects by way of its power brokers: the media, the hoity-toity arts event gurus who are accepted and venerated by their higher-up buddies in local government.

Want something in print and have used up all the local media in town? Good luck. You can try publishing something on your own and maybe make a little bit of an impact, but nothing quite like the impact you had through high volume publication on a weekly basis. The Worcester Telegram has no use for you as they are shrinking day by day into an eventual online only presence. Worcester Magazine continues to churn out weekly issues that I'm sure the average person breezes through in 15 minutes or less and then throws away / recycles, UNLESS there is some sort of mention of THEM in that particular issue, be it a review of their bar or band or restaurant or whatever... In City Times might be an option, as I, too, am being marginalized by the big boys of Worcester print media and therefore relegated to kook status for even daring to stand up for myself and defend my "Action Geek" strip as being a unique, vital editorial voice in Worcester.

And then there's the money end of things. I'm sure it's even easier for Worcester Magazine to wave goodbye to me when they can be saving $50 a cartoon, $100 a month by eliminating my strip from within their pages of mostly non-edgy fluff. Now they can bring in "new voices" for free. And now I can scramble around even more to figure out how the hell to support myself on even less money per month. Thanks, Worcester Magazine!

I'm anxiously awaiting seeing what they get to "replace" me as they have with all the other more talented folks that the newspaper has eliminated over the years. Brian Goslow should, by all rights, still be writing for WoMag. Hell, Phil MacNamara should be writing reviews of local bands in Worcester. There should be a whole back page devoted to local art / cartoonists, etc. There should be MORE actual, weekly coverage of what the hell our elected officials are doing down there at City Hall and to hold them accountable for their decisions by printing what each and every one of them is for or against or working on or whatever EVERY WEEK. There is no one who does that, as boring as it may sound, but through this kind of coverage, there can be more of a bridge between the average person and their local government. Imagine a local newspaper being actually ESSENTIAL to its population and helping to make it more informed and more a part of the whole process instead of what Worcester Magazine does right now which is just to create a weekly window into whatever that can be flipped through, easily ignored and then tossed out... back to reality again.

There WAS a time when a newspaper could have actual IMPACT on its environment, but as of late, it's easier just to be an easily palatable vehicle for advertisement instead of a hard-hitting, gutsy, opinionated, essential part of living where we live.

This cancellation came as a real blow to me. After I read this e-mail, I dashed off some rather harsh replies which will probably be replied with silence, but I don't care. That's the way Worcester's elite operate. When they want to get rid of that pesky fly that's been bugging them for some time, they'll do so with well chosen politically correct phrasing and cold emotionless sentances and end things with "even though you've done good work in the past" or "i'm available if you want to talk", etc. but what they're really saying is, "just go away quietly, okay?", which I certainly won't do.

After reading the e-mail, I ranted and pontificated and was very upset and my girlfriend told me that she's run into quite a few talented, creative types in Worcester who really feel that Worcester tends to repel rather than attract the creative. Places like Providence, Lowell, Northampton, Burlington, etc. all seem to be more accepting and nurturing of artists and of the stuff that makes for a truly "creative city", but not Worcester. The city I love loves to present obstacles instead of opportunities. And not just for me, but for all creative people. Only those whose work is so watered-down as to be non-wave-making, non-trouble-making, socially acceptable artwork... these are the artists that stay. Sorry if that comes off as being harsh, but it's true. And those artists with any edge to them whatsoever are pretty much called kooks and pariahs and relegated to the loony bin, brought out periodically like a zoo exhibit and then sent back to the sidelines.

I'll probably end up moving at some point. And I really don't want to, but Worcester's just getting worse and worse on so many levels.

After reading the e-mail, my girlfriend and I went out for yummy Vietnamese food at Da Lat. We bought a six pack of obscure weird beers (Devil Dancer and Breakfast Stout by Founders, Double Dog and Gonzo Imperial Porter by Flying Dog Ales, Optimator by Spaten, and Oatmeal Stout by Young's) at Mass Liquors on Chandler Street. We went to Showcase North and watched a crappy yet very stylishly produced movie (The Spirit). And then we went home, read some comics, and curled up together and went to sleep.

This cancellation won't kill me. It just reaffirms in me what I've thought all along about how things work in Worcester. And you wonder why I never really do any "happy" comics.

ACTUAL e-mail letter!

from: Dave (
date: Nov 14, 2008 at 11:17 AM
subject: RE: 131 local editorial cartoons

Just a little feedback, per your request. I thoroughly enjoy your cartoons. They are both entertaining and socially relevant. It would be nice if more people were as self aware, but I suppose that is an unrealistic expectation. Especially here in Worcester. Thanks for you dedication and hard work.


ACTUAL e-mail letter!

from: Eileen Harrington (
date: Nov 13, 2008 at 1:48 PM
subject: Horace's Barber Shop/ Post-Pre-Election Conundrum

Hi Doug,

Just to let you know, Horace doesn't work at Holden Barber Shop. Horace Zona, Sr. is the founder of "Horace's Barber Shop" which was first established in Holden in 1950 and is still in operation today. Horace Sr. is retired and no longer working at the chair. I'm not sure if you meant to make the error purposely as it is apparent in the cartoon that you weren't finding the "guidance" you were looking for in these establishments/locations and if you were looking for Horace's wisdom, you wouldn't find it at Holden Barber Shop. Come to think of it, you wouldn't find Horace at Horace's Barber Shop anymore either.

Eileen Harrington
Holden, MA

(Obviously I screwed up barber shops in my hometown of Holden. I can remember the day I did a drive-by to get a photo reference of HORACE'S, not HOLDEN and I was under constant fear that Holden's Finest would pull me over and hold me under some sort of Patriot Act charges, subsequently detained and deported to the Rutland Prison Camps for complete interrogation. But I digress... Mom used to send me up the street to HOLDEN Barber Shop when Herb Shimkus (aka the Headhunter) was working there. She's send me with a note as to how my hair was to be cut. Eventually Herb told me that she could skip the note, he knew what was to be done. I went to HORACE'S years later, first when I had a real punk do going on and then even later on just for routine maintenance... Sorry about the mix-up. - Doug)

from all kinds of fun comments
that people made cowardly instead of
actually writing in to Worcester Magazine.

ACTUAL e-mail letter!

from: Virginia Ryan (
date: Dec 29, 2007 1:30 PM
subject: Diner cartoon

Hi D Chapel,

I just read your diner cartoon and think it's great. I am cochair of Coalition of Municipal Retirees and one retiree used to be the head of Worcester Voke. I asked him about doing a diner restoration at the new VOKE (they are doing this at RI training center to my father's diner, the Sherwood which he ran in Worcester from 1942 until his death in 1966 and then my mother with help from family ran it until 1969 when Worcester Redevlopement Authority took is for Centrum.
By the way Richard Gutman book has a picture of the Sherwood in it with no mention of my father running it.

John Scott is community liasion for the RI training center where they are restoring four diners. In addition, in Exeter RI the Job Corps is doing same restoring a diner. Think it would be great as Daniel Zilka of the American Diner Museum has so many diners which could be restored and VOKE could do a former Worcester diner. What a neat project to combine culinary classes, etc. as they are presently doing at the RI training center.

Virginia Ryan

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