Injun Summer, meet Tribune Summer

John T. McCutcheon's historic illustration for the Chicago Tribune. Click twice to enlarge

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I have vivid childhood memories of my grandfather, a longtime Chicago Tribune reader in Valparaiso, Ind., pulling out the paper each autumn and showing us kids John T. McCutcheon’s “Injun Summer.” At the time it appeared regularly on the inside back cover of the Trib‘s glossy Sunday magazine (ah, those were the good old days, weren’t they). This nostalgic page probably was one of many factors that piqued my early interest in newspapers, and maybe in art as well.

Political correctness brought its annual publication to an end. But the thing lives on, of course, in archived images on the web, and this week, in a snarky update in The Chicago Reader. Illustrator/cartoonist Jim Siergey (hire him here)and Greg Simetz revise the art and hillbilly dialogue with a poke at the current travails in Trib Tower.

Illustration by Jim Siergey for The Reader. Click to link to Reader online story, Tribune Summer.

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While the Trib troubles are certainly an easy target these days, and some might argue that this dead horse has been thoroughly beaten, you gotta give the Reader credit for doing what alt-weeklies have always done, and need to work hard to do more of: Producing commentary with local, visual, creative and timely bite. I especially admire that this piece shows some historical expertise and perspective (took me back to the ’60s!), something that many newsrooms are losing during this era of attrition.

(Balance alert: I’ve commented elsewhere here about things I really like coming out of the Tribune newsroom, including a noticeable ramping up of investigative reporting, and I agree wholeheartedly with Trib Editor Gerould Kern, who says newsroom output should be viewed and criticized separately from corporate shenanigans. Each is worth examining closely these days.)

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