Readers of Cincy Business will recall the news (“Cincy’s Hottest Artistic Export,” April 2006) that Wyoming-based artist C.F. Payne was chosen as heir apparent — to Norman Rockwell, no less — to anchor the back cover of each and every issue of Reader’s Digest magazine.
After Payne’s thrilling run at illustrating classic Americana — often based on Cincinnati scenes — now comes word the deal is off. Future back covers will feature advertising.

“We have done extensive research in-house,” Eva Dillon, president and group publisher of Reader’s Digest, told Ad Week. “Readers don’t seem to care one way or another. We thought readers would have a strong negative reaction. Once we saw that they didn’t, we said, ‘Hey, what are we waiting for?’ ”

For his part, Payne is pragmatic about the fact that his last illustration will run on December’s back cover. “I’ve had better days than that phone call, I’ll tell ya,” he shrugs. “I can only speculate on how the decision was reached. You get a new editor, you have to change the editorial. You get a new art director, you have to change the art. But they got a new owner, so they had to change the bottom line.”