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Shoe to get dropped, Comics to be ranked in popularity

From the Bristol Herald Courier comes word that they will be dropping Jeff MacNelly’s Shoe and opening the spot for auditions of other features. Auditions will go on for six months – one month for each new feature with Pickles up to bat first. The other current features (13) are to be ranked by readers. The ranking will be by paper ballot (mailing it in or faxing), but as the editor says, “This doesn’t mean that we will let the popular vote decide which comic to lose and which one to add.”

WE’RE GOING to start with two actions: First, we’re going to give the daily comic strip “Shoe” a rest for awhile and in its place audition one at a time up to a half-dozen popular comics you’re not currently getting in this newspaper. The auditions each will last for a month. In six months, we’ll ask you what you think about those new comics.

Why “Shoe?” Because while it’s a favorite of newspaper editors, it isn’t with readers, and we need to free up one spot for the audition, which will include some of the country’s most popular comics – “Get Fuzzy,” “Zits,” “For Better For Worse” and “Pickles,” samples of which I recently reviewed. “Pickles” is about a married couple of seniors and would have great appeal to our mature readers, who dominate this and every other newspaper’s circulation rolls.

Community Comments

#1 Alex Hallatt
June/18/2007
@ 4:03 pm

So they are dropping an intelligently written strip for something that appeals to the lowest common denominator? Imagine what would happen if this sort of process determined other editorial content. No more news stories about the Middle East, but a lot more on what Brangelina is up to. Do readers make the best editorial decisions? Why delegate this responsibility to them?

ngh.

Alex
http://www.moontoon.com

#2 Alan Gardner
June/18/2007
@ 4:06 pm

they are dropping an intelligently written strip

Shoe is one you’d hold out for as intelligently written? Maybe back in MacNelly’s day, but now it passes only as, well, passing. IMHO.

#3 Garey Mckee
June/18/2007
@ 4:45 pm

Shoe is definately one of those “not what it used to be” strips, suffering from the lack of vision and the voice of it’s creator Jeff MacNelly. I’m not bashing Chris Cassatt or Gary Brookins, it has to be difficult to try to step in and carry on someone else’s unique work. The question is, should it be done at all?

#4 Jeff Stanson
June/18/2007
@ 6:58 pm

Shoe was GREAT in its early days with its right-on spoof of the newspaper industry (which I was part of at the time). However, MacNelly himself was the one who chose to depict the newspaper industry less and less, and because of that, it’s my opinion that Shoe is a prime example of a strip that lost its vision under its original creator. Thank you Courier for recognizing the current version is only kept alive by editors who “remember when,” a sentiment that to me, is far less relevant than when readers want to keep strips because they “remember when.” After all, the readers are end user customers, and as such, should carry more clout.

#5 Alex Hallatt
June/18/2007
@ 9:57 pm

True. I haven’t read it recently, but it used to be funny. You would also hope that editors are more intelligent than the average reader, but perhaps that has changed too….

#6 Jeff Stanson
June/18/2007
@ 10:28 pm

Alex, I can tell you from experience of serving on the editorial staff of three newspapers and one group that some editors are more intelligent than the average reader and some aren’t. I have a master’s in journalism as those of us who were associated with the hard news or editorials usually did (but believe me, a degree is not necessarily a sign of intelligence). If you are suggesting, however, that editors who choose comics are going to be people who know more about choosing comics than you (as in the global “you”), you (as in the personal “you”) are most likely mistaken. The majority of comics are chosen by feature editors who could really care less about the comics, and certainly don’t look at the comics from a fan’s point of view. Most of what I saw in the latter days before I escaped the newspaper game, and what I see now in keeping up with the business, is that comics are chosen because either 1) other papers are carrying them, or 2) the comic strips have acheived some sort of following for being counter-culture or against what society perceives as the “norm.” And I’m as serious as I can be when I say that, because I’ve seen it over and over, first hand.

#7 lefitte
June/18/2007
@ 11:13 pm

No offence, but defending a strip you “haven’t read lately” weakens any plausible argument you could make.

#8 Alex Hallatt
June/19/2007
@ 2:41 pm

I guess I was lucky because I got my first break working as the daily cartoonist for a newspaper in Brighton by faxing a mock-up of the paper with my cartoons in it to the editor. The editor was a real cartoon fan and hired me the next week. I worked there for 4 years and he was instrumental in tightening up my copy and drawing seagulls on my roughs… He got fired (not for the seagulls, but because of falling sales) and is now working as a sub-editor on a London daily. So I guess I know what you are saying, but hate to believe it…

#9 Dawson
June/20/2007
@ 1:30 pm

Gosh, this is new… a newspaper is going to run a comics poll, but not base its decision on the poll results.

And instead of instilling some fire into its readership and attracting new readers, the paper is considering running strips which have all been around for several years… and are most seriously considering a comic that senior citizens like. Now that’s planning for the future! But then, Media General owns more daily newspapers in the Southeast than any other company, so they must know what they’re doing.

#10 Alex Hallatt
June/21/2007
@ 2:12 pm

Hello Lefitte. I was picking up on the initial post about Shoe being an editors’ favourite, not so much that it was my favourite (though I used to read it when I lived in the States). So I remembered it being intelligently written and I HOPED that was why it was an editors’ favourite. But as is apparent from the other posts here, I am probably wrong!

#11 Alex Hallatt
June/21/2007
@ 4:36 pm

There’s a good comment on polls in the June 21st showing of Inkpen
http://www.gocomics.com/inkpen/

#12 The Daily Cartoonist | News and blog about comic strips, editorial cartoons, cartoons
June/25/2007
@ 1:15 am

[…] last week, I wrote that the Bristol Herald Courier was giving Jeff MacNelly’s Shoe the boot to make room for a new feature and that a good ol’ fashion paper ballot poll was underway to […]

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