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Newspaper comics beat webcomics in “unmatched in artistry”

Leo Traub writes:

Newspaper comic strips have an artistic quaintness that endears them instantly to the reader. Despite dropping newspaper sales, the magic of ink on paper doesn?t fade over time. Nothing compares to hand-drawn comics, with their unique imperfections and nonuniform lettering. While still in print, Bill Watterson?s Calvin and Hobbes series ? my personal favorite comic strip ? dazzled every Sunday with wondrous watercolors in the extended comic editions.

This level of artistry is unmatched by print comics? digital counterparts. Web comics lack the personality of paper comics. The indifferent reproductions of characters and images that come with many Web comics distance any chance of a personal connection to the characters.

I think Leo’s point is that newspaper comics are going away with newspapers. I don’t anyone can argue that point, but I’d add that comics aren’t going away. Their method of distribution is changing. But the statement above is perhaps the most egregious. As far as “level of artistry” Leo’s statement is shallow and perhaps unexposed to the wider world of digital comics – both short and long form. How can newspaper comics, which are now largely reduced to a size that limits artistic expression to a couple of talking heads with dialog balloons, even compete with digital comics who are often published larger, in full color and due to the open nature of the web open to professional artists and storytellers who would never have gone into syndication who can now share their work to the public.

Community Comments

#1 Jeffery J. Manley
October/9/2014
@ 12:55 pm

He’s also missing the fact that the truely artistic print newspaper comics have been gone for decades… and even then it was still 20% of the comics were artistically beautiful, and the rest were waterdowned crap. There are some beautiful webcomics out there, and there are a lot of cartoonists busting ass to make webcomics that can be respected.

If he can complain about the copy and pasted webcomics, we can counter with Garfield. How is that strip any different, when you have a team of UN-NAMED artists drawing a comic that then gets signed by someone that just collects the money?… that doesn’t sound like the work of an “artist”.. unless scam artist counts.

#2 John Lotshaw
October/9/2014
@ 4:06 pm

While I wouldn’t characterize Jim Davis as a “scam artist”, I have to say that the writer of this article is full of hooey.

Newspaper comics have had, due to the restrictions of size and declining readership, all the “artistry” squeezed out of them by the time they reach the reader. It’s ironic that the art that cartoonists’ hard work and artistry isn’t really able to be seen and appreciated unless you look at them on the web.

Obviously, this article was written by a upperclassman blowhard at the University of Maryland who thinks he knows how to run the world, but really has no clue.

Like every op-ed piece ever written in a student newspaper.

#3 Alyssa Martin
October/9/2014
@ 7:28 pm

Apparently, Leo has forgotten that a number of newspaper comics are drawn and colored digitally. And that quite a few webcomics are drawn by hand.

#4 Terry LaBan
October/10/2014
@ 8:07 am

This is just silly. Even a casual perusal of online comics shows
that many have a level of artistry most newspaper comics don’t even aspire to. Ink on paper comics may have their unique charms, but superior quality isn’t one of them.

#5 Tom Kane
October/10/2014
@ 9:57 am

The Garfield analogy is an excellent point – not all print artists do it, but how many are done by a staff or are in the second or third set of hands over their lifetime? How is that better?

I love Calvin and Hobbes. But I think the writer unintentionally makes a counter argument by using as an example a strip that has not run in almost 10 years. Could he not find any current examples?

And it is hard to find current examples in print, mostly b/c of how the paper runs the comic section. Fearful of running anything new and cutting back space every year. One of the local papers announced a HUGE EXPANSION OF THE SUNDAY COMICS! When it launched what was it – addition of 10 comics that had been running for 30+ years (the standards) and shrinking all the comics to four rows by three columns over a two page spread.

The level for digital is same as print – some are clearly invested in the work and show amazing talent and spirit…and some don’t. Some print comics could easily look like photoshopped digital strips – same faces, same position, same everything panel to panel to panel.

#6 Keith Brown
October/10/2014
@ 11:39 am

I suppose I am guilty as charged of some or all of this. My strip is a mixture of both. I hand draw everything except text. I use a computer for text and to color.
I suppose to purist that’s no-no but then why even use a computer at all?
Admittedly my characters truncated body proportions make it difficult for me to show much movement but that limitation has also seemed to help define their deadpan personalities.
At least in my head that seems to be the case and I have managed to develop a small audience that seems to agree.
I try to convey all my gags in three panels which will be an easy read on mobile devices as that seems to be the world we are living in.
Hopefully if someone get a chuckle they will forgive me my lack of technical artistry.

#7 Ray Bradshaw
October/12/2014
@ 10:51 am

Another point being that I myself have all but given up getting
my own stuff published,

But I am heartened and looking to start my own online strip with the inspiration of One Scott Johnson’s EXTRA LIFE see http://www.myextralife.com/

My own work is hand drawn on paper and scanned in so the phrase of “Not being hand drawn” holds no water!

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