Cartoon Factory Seeks $50 Million Bailout From Congress
IOWA RIVER BASIN (Disassociated Press)- The fate of the U.S. cartoon industry and scores of jobs are on the line as major players work out details on Tuesday for a plan to extend emergency loans to the political cartoon factory, Zencomix, in exchange for tougher oversight.
"With the election of Barack Obama, we're seeing lines of comedy credit drying up. The days when "John Bolton and Atlas Juggs singing a duet" brought in a cool million are long gone. Sarah Palin gave us a glimmer of hope, but with the election of Obama, the Lumpy Gravy Train has derailed. We need help." said Saul Shlee, author of the legendary underground sensation "Support The Republicans" and member of the Zencomix stable of artists.
Congressional Democrats and the White House have been in talks for several days to finalize an emergency loan package estimated to be worth up to $50 million to prevent the collapse of Zencomix. Longer-term help also could be on the way if certain conditions were met.
"Does he really need to spend all that time putting the eyebrows on his cartoons? It's highly inefficient." asked Congressman John Boner (R-Ohio), "And maybe it's time to put the ballpoint pens down and modernize to vector drawings. Sure, they may have to lay off some cross-hatchers on the assembly line, but you don't see Garfield or The Family Circus up here with their hands out."
The U.S. economy hemorrhaged more than 530,000 jobs during November, further increasing the urgency for help to stop the collapse of Zencomix and save more than 350,000 ROFLMAOs and millions of other LOLs that depend on the industry.
President George W. Bush has voiced concern about the cartoonist's ability to survive, prompting a meeting between White House aides and Democratic staffers."Hey, I was the guy's bread and butter." The President said, choking back tears. "Now what's he gonna do? It's not like he can recycle all the old cartoons like he's Blondie and Dagwood. About all he's got left is a few cliche ridden Lame Duck cartoons, and you can't even give those things away."
The administration has maintained that any plan must include best efforts to guarantee taxpayer dollars are paid back and that the cartoonist is able to reorganize and compete.
Democrats were trying to allay administration concerns through a counter proposal. They said they were confident a deal could be reached.
In return for aid, lawmakers have requested a serious commitment from the cartoonist to change the way Zencomix does business. Zencomix submitted business-plan information to Congress last week with a $50 million bailout request.
The latest draft would release loans later this month while establishing an oversight office of one or more officials to ensure compliance by the cartoonist. No bonuses or "golden parachutes" for top executives will be permitted, and Zencomix would have to sell their company's 1975 Datsun B210, "The Honeybee".
The proposal also sets a March 31 deadline for Zencomix to submit detailed plans of how they intend to cut costs and further overhaul their business.
"We're going to need to see more details on how Zencomix plans to spend the money. An outline written on a bar napkin for an epic graphic novel about a Mountain Named Billy is insufficient information for Congress to appropriate 5o million dollars." said Senator John Cornhole (R-Texas).