Big Top comic to come to an end

Universal Press has announced that Bob Harrell will end his comic Big Top on March 25th. In statement by Bob, he says:

This was an incredibly difficult decision. The strip, and the characters feel like family to me and I loved every day of doing Big Top. But for both professional and financial reasons, itâ??s time to move on to other projects, including my fine art, illustration and animation. I’ve been blessed with a group of loyal, dedicated fans, and I want to thank them. Their reaction to the strip has been so rewarding.

Starting today, Big Top will feature flashbacks ala “It’s a Wonderful Life” until it ends. Rob hints that he may come back to cartooning in the future.

40 thoughts on “Big Top comic to come to an end

  1. Rob, Your stuff is great. I’ve already told you so. I just absolutely am a fan….especially of your fine art work. Your studies are spectacular. The comics pages are getting a loss, but if you’ve got more time to put in on your commercial art…that’s a gain there! I hope you won’t shut the door to the comics completely…..and sometime in the future revisit sequential art. That’s what I did. I got away from strips for ten years, then….it sucked me back in!!!

  2. Well that’s sad news. I’ve been enjoying Big Top every morning…fun characters and beautiful drawings.
    Best of luck Rob!

  3. Bigtop was one of my favorite of the newest toons over the past few years. Fun art and fun writing.

    I’m sorry to see Bigtop go…anyone know how many papers it was in? It’s in my Boston Herald…

  4. Eric, looks like it was in about 40 papers. Some interesting articles out there if you google big top. Unfortunate … looked like a good strip!


  5. It’s really sad and surprising that Big Top didn’t get more carriage. It was solid, funny, and well-drawn. The characters were great. And it never struck me as too edgy for the mainstream press, either. I can certainly understand Harrell’s decision, but I will miss the strip. Best of luck, Rob, with whatever comes next!

  6. Yuck. I read “Big Top” every day and usually laughed at it. Dammit.

    One less good strip.

  7. I guess this just goes to show the state of the industry, that is even a great strip can “fail” due to the shrinking market. Rob is a fantatstic artist and has been an influence on my work (as well as many others I’m sure) and Big Top will be missed.
    Best of luck to Rob in all his future endeavors!

  8. This is really, really sad.
    I loved “Big Top,” even though it never ran in my paper (it only ran in 40-50, apparently) and I had to read it online. The worst part for me is that I only started reading it relatively recently. So, I hope that they publish this comic in more collections than just the first one because it would be awesome to read.

    That said, it was beautifully drawn, had very well-developed and entertaining characters, and, above all, it was ALWAYS funny. I couldn’t stop laughing at any of the strips, especially the series, which always escalated in absurdity and hilariousness until you, as a reader, would slowly stop laughing and say, “Wow, that was so crazy I don’t know where that guy came up with it — but it was darn funny!” Sometimes people repeat the funniest lines from the latest episode of their sitcom. Well, no other comic strip features so many lines that I can’t stop laughing at and want to repeat. Take, for instance — from just the last several weeks — the Clown Wrangler telling Dusty that the “clownie treat” he has just given Stucco the Clown is “small children’s fear condensed into nuggets. They can’t get enough.” Or, Dusty’s line after Pete sees that his entire trailer has been destroyed by a frisbee-playing elephant: “No, wait, I think I see a Cheeto.”

    I want to thank Rob Harrell for this wonderful comic strip. It has made me laugh so many times. Furthermore, it taught me, as an aspiring cartoonist, to not be afraid to make my storylines absurd and out-of-the-box. Never has there been a comic strip that deserved to be in way more papers. Also, it is ending way too soon.

    I apologize for the long comment, but I felt that this strip deserved a well-thought-out eulogy.

  9. Man, that’s terrible news. “Big Top” has been consistently excellent. I wish my paper followed my advise and picked it up. Any chance on getting the run in book form?

  10. Rob is one of the best comic strip writers today. His dry sense of humor is tone-perfect.
    His artwork is icing on the cake. I sincerely hope he considers producing another strip.

  11. Big Top is cool, I started reading it because it reminded me of another strip Fred the Clown by Roger Langridge. Probably because of the circus / clown type relation even though the two strips are completely different.

  12. Emily,
    There is one book collection out, called simply “Big Top,” but that was published in March 2005 and here it is in March 2007 and we still don’t have a second collection.
    I’m not sure if they think it is financially worth it to publish another “Big Top” collection — but I sure wish they would, as I missed the first few years of the strip’s run.
    Well, at the very least “Big Top” is going out on a high note. Its last few months have been terrific, and even this week’s series, with the circus closing, is making me laugh even as it makes me sad.

    “‘Stucco. You can’t talk.’ ‘No. I’ve just really never had anything to say.'”

  13. I also did not get Big Top in my local paper – a big miss by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. I have been a loyal reader ever since its debut, though, and will miss it terribly. Rob, you are truly one of the most talented and funniest cartoonists out there today. Big Top will be missed – hope you revisit the comic pages someday with another great idea!

  14. Rob! Mr. Harrell! Please no!

    sad to hear this news, but wondered where the wonderful life thread was heading.

    Damm. Mr. Harrell will be missed. Too often the good strips get ignored in favor of the schlock or the flavour of the week. I tripped over the first (and now presumably only) collection and fell in love instantly with the whole world of Big Top.

    I love your art and am sure that the world of illustration will be pleased to have you. But we small cartoon fans are watching our world grow smaller and darker.

    best and peace to you!

    Greg Fink
    Stinging Monkey Books, Cartoon Historian

  15. This is very sad news, “Big Top” was my favourite cartoon; I only just renewed my subscription to uclick, too! Thank you Mr Harrell for all the laughs; it was a great strip. All the best to you.

  16. I’m distraught that I’m finding this out today, the last day!

    Please consider doing what the creators of Sheldon and Barkeater Lake have done, and set up shop on the web.

    I’m a big fan, and would like to see Big Top live on!!

  17. I hadn’t heard the original announcement either. I picked up the clue in last weeks strips, but denial is a beautiful thing.

    I’ve been a devoted and HUGE fan since the Today Show interview a while back and even got my sister hooked on it. It was such a wonderful way to start each snarky day.

    This strip will be greatly missed. Thank you Rob for your humor, artistry, and drive. Good luck to you in all of your endeavors!

  18. Bob I was surprised this morning when reading the Sunday Comics. I am saddened to learn of the end of The Big Top. I’ve enjoyed your work every day when reading the Boston Herald. Thanks for entertaining me and good luck on your future endeavors. Stay healthy.

  19. A truly sad day. It was near criminal that more papers never ran the strip. It will truly be missed. Good luck, Rob.

  20. Mr. Harrell: Thanks for the memories. I’ve enjoyed your strip for a couple of years and will treasure the several I’ve cut out and put on the bulletin board. It was a good run!

    I wish you well in your future endeavors and continued good health!

  21. I was deeply saddened when I opened the Boston Herald today to find my fears of the strip ending confirmed. I was holding out hope throughout the final story arc that it would continue, but I knew it was all over when the credits rolled.

    Thank you so much for the laughs, Mr. Harrell. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your strip, one which I considered to be one of the best, if not the best, comic strip running today. And from what I’ve seen about it only being in 40 papers, I have to say it was incredibly underrated. It never failed to make me laugh, and although I have been reading it a relatively short time (it only came into the paper last year or a little before then), it quickly became one of my all-time favorites. The characters were incredibly charismatic, and the jokes were always very well done. The comics page lost a gem today.

    I deeply and sincerely hope that there will be a book collection in the future containing everything since collection one to the end, in which I can finally read all of the strips before it came into the paper, and any ones I may have missed since then.

    However, I wish you very well in all of your future endeavors and projects, especially your fine art. You are a very talented person and deserve all the success in the world.

  22. Well, Big Top certainly went out on a high note, huh? This last strip was great, and yet sad at the same time.

  23. BOO HOO!!!

    I LOVED this strip. The humor was funny and not cloying or simple. The drawing was great and the characters were distinct and interesting. I looked forward to reading it everyday. I will miss Dusty most of all. Thank you so much for a great strip. I’m just so sad to lose Big Top. WAAAAA!!!

  24. Sad to see the end. I haven’t been this depressed since Breathed pulled the plug on Bloom County.

  25. It stinks ! That one of the few funny and well drawn strips,in a world of unfunny poorly drawn comics just can’t prosper.Another one bites the dust.

  26. Its not fair, there are so many crappy comics out there, get rid of one of them…WHY DO THE GOOD ONES HAVE TO GO? Reading Big Top was a daily ritual for me. Rob Harell if you are reading this, thanks for the good times. I will miss your funny work.

  27. Dear Rob: As I told you before I emailed the features editor at the DETROIT FREE PRESS when they cancelled BIG TOP and told them they could shove their newspaper (This was during your hiatus for your surgery). I was appalled then at the strips they kept over BIG TOP and I am disappointed in your decision to end BIG TOP, my wife and I will dearly miss it & especially your sense of humor. PLEASE LISTEN TO YOUR FANS! A HARD COVER COLLECTION OF BIG TOP WOULD BE WONDERFUL TO HAVE, EVEN IF YOU HAVE TO SELL ON LINE AT A RIDICULOULY HIGH PRICE!!!

    Your Fans from DAY 1
    John & Suzie Makar

  28. Hi. I wanted to write and thank everyone for the incredibly kind sendoff for Big Top. It feels crazy to not be doing the strip, anymore. Those characters came from down deep, and I miss them already.
    To those of you who have e-mailed me directly, I apologize for not responding quicker. I had surgery on both shins on Tuesday, and have since been essentially hobbled. And nauseous. My wife deserves a medal. Seriously. (And this is unrelated to my eye surgery of last year. No worries.)

    For those who’ve asked for a book… Oh, but that it were that easy. This unfortunately is a decision placed in others hands. Although I haven’t given up hope, yet.

    This decision sucked. It was a mostly a practical decision, and I hate practical decisions. I’ve lived my life trying to NOT make practical decisions. But there comes a time…

    So, I’ll be regrouping and trying to figure out what’s next. I also haven’t given up hope that Dusty may rise again. Somewhere. Somehow.
    But in the meantime, Thank You. Those of you who stick your head out and say “Hey” are the ones who made this experience so rewarding.


  29. Rob, Why don’t you try the subscription based model that Michael Jantze’s “The Norm” went to when his strip ended. You could try to get 2000 subscribers at $20 a year. Think outside the box.

  30. I’m totally surprised that Big Top is ending. I usually read it a few days at a time online. It’s basically the only strip I read regularly. I’m definitely going to get the book, and hope and pray for another one to come out. Thanks Rob!

  31. Big Top was one of the best comic strips to hit the funny pages – and the web – ever. Please reconsider!

    Or at least give us a second book!

  32. I love your serious side (your painting). I love your laughing side (being funny can be just as serious business). Sorry to see the “Big Top” gone. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

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