So when he accepted the job at The Los Angeles Times the other day, longtime Seattle Post-Intelligencer Cartoonist David Horsey said to his new bosses, "If you need me to move down there, I will." They said naw, that's fine, you can stay in Seattle and work from there. "Well," Horsey said, "how about in the winter months then?"
Now 60, and having spent the last 32 years drawing those signature Horsey political cartoons for the P-I (and after the print edition folded, appearing on SeattlePI.com), the writer and illustrator will begin telecommuting to LA at the stroke of midnight January 1, he says, "re-crafting," as Times Editor Russ Stanton puts it, the paper's Top of the Ticket political blog.
"The guy who had been writing it was fairly conservative," says the liberal Horsey, a University of Washington grad whose first newspaper job was as a reporter at the old Journal-American in Bellevue, covering local city halls and the state legislature. "What I do might be a shock to some of his readers."
Horsey was hired at the P-I in 1979 by then-editor Bill Asbury, who'd been publisher of the UW Daily when Horsey was there. The Seattle Times had just brought on Brian Basset to do local editorial cartooning, "So Asbury knew me, called me up, and asked if I want to come draw cartoons." Three decades and two Pulitzer Prizes later, he began looking for an exit.
"Some consider that a career," says Horsey, "but I consider this a mid-career change." It's not so much a separation from the P-I, he says, but a "weening. After the print edition folded, they kept me and [columnist Joel] Connelly on at seattlepi.com to help get it launched. There was always an implication, for both sides, that it might not last forever - though Joel might," he said admiringly.
For some time, Horsey says, "I've been thinking I wanted to try something bigger. It's an amicable parting with Hearst, and I wish everyone the best. Pi.com is trying to do something new with a small but talented staff, and is still trying to sort out what works best.
"All the Hearst web sites have started sharing a lot of content, and every week seems to be an experiment. I think at this point everybody was ready to move on - I'll move on to LA and they'll move on to wherever it is they're going."
In his new gig, Horsey will supply "some combination every day of words and pictures" to the blog. "Some days it may be a long column and a small sketch, others days a full color political cartoon and a few graphs underneath," he says. He'll work with editors Cathy Decker and Steve Padilla to relaunch the currently dormant blog.
Horsey will be sending copy and cartoons from the road as well. First up is the South Carolina Republican presidential primary January 21. "I'm excited," Horsey says. "It's a good feeling to have again."