Sunday, March 11, 2007

Okay, I'm back. There are a few slight changes here. I've relaxed the obsessive cataloging of every instance of a silent penultimate panel and instead will just present an assortment of interesting (or extremely dull) ones from throughout the previous week. And my posts were be a little bit longer, and a little less flippant.

The previous week of comics was a frustrating and confusing one in the L.A. Times. The Times dropped four strips and squeezed the remaining into three columns.. The result is a near-unreadable mess. The comics are now scrunched to abnormally tall and skinny proportions--like an old Sunday afternoon TV presentation of a Panavision western. And to make it even more annoying, their explanation for all this was that they were expanding the Sunday Kids section. In order to make room for the fantastic new kids section on Sunday, they were dropping three strips Monday through Saturday. Strange logic.

Originally, the Times dropped Candorville, La Cucaracha, Mr. Boffo, and Mallard Fillmore. But halfway through the week, due to “reader demand,” La Cucaracha was back and Heathcliff was gone. (And Rex Morgan survives!) (And it seems arbitrary to drop Heathcliff and keep Marmaduke—I wonder how they decided to keep one for the other—darts?, coin-flip? amount of ink used?) I hate to see any comic strip dropped, (even, sigh, Mallard Fillmore) and I think newspapers are only shooting themselves in the foot whenever they do condense the comics. Comics make a newspaper special. They are as essential to the newspaper experience as the letters to the editor and the Op/Eds. Newspapers need comics and comics need newspapers. To steel an advertising catch phrase from several months ago, save the comics, save the newspaper.


Blogger J.V. Walt said...

The comics are the dessert cart of the daily newspaper, but I've always gotten the impression that editors are vaguely embarrassed about the presence of the Funnies in their paper. After all, the great New York Times does not deign to besmirch its hallowed pages with comic strips.

As a result, most comics editors don't take their jobs seriously. They depend on market research and reader polls rather than, say, evaluating the quality of art, storytelling, and humor. Market research gives us strips designed to hit a demographic, not be creative. Reader polls reward familiarity; relatively new strips always fare poorly. The result is funny pages cluttered with zombie strips that ceased to be original decades ago.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Nehdeen said...

I know that Darrin Bell of Candorville is encouraging readers to write in and complain, so LA Times readers might want to follow the suggestions in his blog:

1:33 AM  

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