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Houston Chronicle drops full page of comics

The Houston Chronicle announced yesterday that they are printing all of their comics in color starting on Monday, but that they are dropping a full page of comics. The dropped comics will still be carried on their online offerings.

Why is the paper doing this? It’s a cost-cutting measure. The Chronicle has run more comics than other newspapers for years, but syndication fees and increases in the cost of newsprint make these changes necessary. The decision was made only after other serious cost-cutting measures were implemented at the paper.

A poster over on RACs listed out the dropped features that include:

Arctic Circle, Buckles, Cathy, Cleats, Crock, Dennis the Menace, Diesel Sweeties, Dinette Set, Drabble, Gasoline Alley, Heathcliff, Judge Parker, Lockhorns, Marmaduke, Mary Worth, Mr Boffo, My Cage, Real Life Adventures, Rubes, Shoe, Spot the Frog, Sylvia and Wizard of Id.

The decision to drop which features went something like this:

A considerable amount of thought went into deciding which strips would be dropped and which would remain. Some of the comics ranked poorly in a recent survey of readers. Some were new comics that had not yet developed a following. Some of the older comics that were dropped were no longer being produced by the original author.

Community Comments

#1 brian
@ 9:41 am

It’s good that they are keeping the comics online (at least they’ll make the transition to web with the paper), but it’s the overall attitude of newspapers that comics are a parasitic expense that needs to change. And it’s one they will need to change as more newspapers transition to the web: comics can be a draw for online readers. Now that would be some nice full circle irony.

#2 r stevens
@ 10:09 am

“Some were new comics that had not yet developed a following. ”

Very heartening! Happy National Sarcasm Month.

#3 josh s.
@ 11:27 am

This makes me sad deep down in my soul.
Maybe the Grinch will have a change of heart and bring the comics back to the readers of Whoville.

That said, the Chronicle does have one of the better online comics pages out there. It’s easy to navigate through the current comics. I don’t like the implication, however, that comics carried online are not paid for. Is that correct?

#4 Dave James
@ 11:28 am

I am ALWAYS surprised at the “cost cutting” newspapers implement. Considering how LITTLE a newspaper actually pays a syndicate to run a cartoon, it makes me think just how bad things are.

What I’m saying is, aren’t there other things to “cut” at a newspaper that will make a greater impact in the long run and NOT run the risk of pissing off and losing a reader that loves Mr. Boffo?!

I don’t get it.

#5 Dawn
@ 11:31 am

At least they put some thought into the ones they chose to drop.

Unfortunately, chopping down the comics page may be a growing trend. I’ve been studying the numbers on newspapers. OUCH! It’s worse than I thought. Many that were making double-digit profits just last year are in the red now, as more and more advertising moves away from newspapers.

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if newspapers start dropping half the features on their comics page and insert ads to replace them. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

#6 Pab Sungenis
@ 11:35 am

My understanding (which could be wrong) is that syndicates have different rates for “comics on the web” and “comics on the web and in the paper,” not unlike how the daily and Sunday packages are separated.

I’m sure one of the syndicate types on here will correct me if I’m wrong.

So, the syndicate gets less money for a web-only pickup, but it still gets money, which means the cartoonist gets money.

#7 Brian Powers
@ 11:39 am

I doubt you can get much money from newspapers for the ability to put comics on their webpage when it is easy to access them for free on or

#8 Dawn
@ 11:41 am

Dave, I don’t know how much the Houston Chronicle pays for comics, but I expect it’s about $35 a week. (Sundays are counted separately.)

If that’s the case, then this will save them $42,000 a year, which goes straight to the bottom line. That might not seem like much, but when you’re trying to cover somebody’s salary and it’s the comics or having to fire a friend…

But more than that, they’ve just saved themselves a whole page of newsprint. That’s a huge expense for newspapers.

Josh, yes, newspapers pay for comics they carry online. They started out paying a lot more for web rights than for print rights, but syndicates were stupid and put their cartoons on the web for free and now newspapers aren’t willing to cough up so much money for them. I don’t blame them.

#9 Alan Gardner
@ 11:44 am

When did the notion that a paper can’t put advertising on the comics page start? I’ve read that editors despise the comics because they can’t put advertising on those pages. I’m thinking if comics are one of the most read features of the paper – it makes complete business sense for them to place ads on those pages. Maybe they should keep the comics – spread them out along more pages above the fold and fill the bottom with advertising. It would keep the comics in the paper and boost advertising. What am I missing?

#10 Dawn
@ 11:51 am

Part of it is layout issues, Alan, but I think it’s mostly that they’ve never done it that way and expect to get a lot of calls if they try it. You know how averse editors to do anything that could generate angry phone calls.

#11 Alex Hallatt
@ 12:18 pm


#12 Lucas Turnbloom
@ 12:48 pm

You’re not missing anything Alan; You’ve solved the problem. But, unfortunately, there are several editors who still haven’t figured it out.

#13 Wiley Miller
@ 12:51 pm

This issue confounded me for years and for the same reasons Alan pointed out. Then I learned why this seemingly simple solution hasn’t been employed when I worked at the San Francisco Examiner many moons ago.

The reason there aren’t ads on the comics page is not because editors are adverse to change, nor because they hadn’t thought about it. Quite the contrary. It’s because advertisers don’t want to be on the same page, fearing that their ads can’t compete for attention with the graphics of comics. The key to advertising is to grab the readers attention and they believe their ads stand out best on a page full of type. So advertiser feel that their ads will get lost or overlooked in competition with cartoons

But for some reason, this train of thought isn’t employed when it comes to the Sunday comics. Go figure.

#14 Dawn
@ 1:12 pm

If comics were sprinkled through the newspaper like ads are, and if they were all made to be the same size, then people would actively go looking for the comics and would see the ads, too, because the mind would just be looking for “graphics this size and shape.”

If newspapers better used the power of cartoons, then they wouldn’t resent them so much. Yes, it would be more annoying for readers who come to newspapers just to read the comics, but I suspect there aren’t many of those people left anymore. If you’re just a comics lover and don’t care about the stories, you can find many more comics online, and don’t have to pay for a newspaper subscription that just gives you a lot of paper you have to recycle or burn.

#15 Wiley Miller
@ 1:48 pm

What you are engaging in here, Dawn, is logic and common sense. You expect that to work?! :-)

That is an obvious solution, and one that has been pointed out to editors many times over the years. The problem is that it runs headlong into the editors’ unwillingness to actually work with comics. This is precisely why they’re all on one page and have to be in production weeks in advance. Editors simply want a smooth running system that they won’t have to deal with or think about. Sprinklng comics throughout the paper means they’d have work around them with their news holes and ad space.

And to be fair, this would be quite a task given the reality of what today’s editors have to deal with in massive staff cuts. There are many newspapers today that don’t even have a features editor, where all the sections are being dealt with by one managing editor. It’s a sad state of affairs. Ironically, it’s a state that could be greatly improved if editors paid more attention to comics and features in general.

#16 Alan Gardner
@ 1:56 pm

I’m not sure, Dawn, how far and wide you’re advocating spreading the comics out, but if people had to hunt down their dear Mary Worth everyday, I could see a lot of people quickly losing interest in a lot of features quickly. I read most of the features on the comics page because they’re there together, but if I had to search for them, the actual number of features I’d read would drop in direct proportion to my laziness to find them. And when the inevitable comic poll came around, I’d have to say honestly, “I don’t miss a lot of them.”

#17 Dawn
@ 2:13 pm

I agree with you, Alan. It’s always been the case that some comics are supported by their proximity to others, just like a tv show might only survive because it airs right before or after something that has a big draw.

This would definitely make newspaper comics more of an “every man for himself” kind of situation, but the only people who should be frightened by that are the cartoonists who are skating along with not-so-great comics. I think this would have the added benefit of making newspaper comics stronger.

Wiley, do you happen to know the percentage of newspapers that have equipment so that pages can be laid out without a lot of manual labor? I’m just wondering if this “sprinkling” could be done semi-automatically. Also, seems to me that comics would have to be increased in size a bit, which would be another benefit, at least to the art form.

#18 Alan Gardner
@ 2:25 pm

I can’t follow your logic that it would make newspaper comics stronger. I see it the opposite. Less comics would run after the editors figure out that perhaps only half of them are worthy of hunting down. They would simply downsize the number of offerings – AND can you imagine being a newly launched feature? How hard it would be to establish a readership if the reader has to hunt it down – provided they even know it even exists.

No, spreading them out would be disastrous – at least that’s my pessimistic view of how it would play out in this scenario.

#19 Wiley Miller
@ 2:35 pm

As far as I know, most, if not all, newspapers today are composed by computer.
There is no logical reason why comics couldn’t be spread out more throughout the paper. It’s simply a matter of desire to do so. What it would take is for one major newspaper to do this and be successful with it. Once that happens, all the others would follow suit in their usual herd mentality.

The trick is, convincing that one major newspaper to try it.

#20 Mike Witmer
@ 2:41 pm

Our local paper sprinkles their editorial comic strips throughout different sections. But the funnies are still lumped in the same page. I’m curious to know how that’s working for them.

#21 Ed Power, writer of My Cage
@ 3:44 pm

Cool! My comic strip is being listed on Daily Cartoonist with a bunch of other great strips!!! AWESOME!!!

Let’s see what it says!

(Ed reads article)

Aw man! :(

#22 Dawn
@ 4:19 pm

Alan, seems like you don’t have much faith in the power of comics to attract and hold readers. ;)

First of all, the average reader doesn’t get a newspaper just to read the comics. Readers would be bumping into the comics naturally as they go through the newspaper. Having comics would set up in the readers mind that they should be on the lookout for graphics, instead of just ignoring them, which is what I do and I suspect lots of others do, too.

So now, instead of ads being largely ignored, more people would actually see them and the response rate would go up. This would make the advertisers very happy. Happy advertisers mean more ads and happy newspapers.

The newspaper couldn’t drop the overall number of comics, because that would dilute the entire strategy. There needs to be a liberal sprinkling of comics to make this work. What they would have to do instead is replace the weak ones with something stronger.

Based on the response rate of ads around a certain comic, and based on advertisers saying they want to be placed near THIS comic and NOT near THAT comic, they could tell if the comic is doing it’s job or not. If it’s not, it would be replaced with something else. Survival of the fittest. The quality of the comics overall would improve. There would be a built-in incentive for newspapers to be more aware of comics, to monitor them better and to only allow those that can attract and hold attention based on their own merits.

You’re right, Wiley, it’s not going to happen. Newspapers are totally intransigent, which is why there are in this mess.

#23 Anne Hambrock
@ 5:27 pm

The New Yorker sprinkles it’s cartoons throughout the magazine with no ill effects. In fact, while I rarely read all the articles, I never miss any of the cartoons.

#24 Dawn
@ 6:21 pm

Good point, Anne! Me, too. That magazine is often in doctor’s offices, and I always flip through the pages to find the comics.

#25 Malc
@ 6:50 pm

Basically we’re seeing here the natural effect of pricing an item so low it actually works against the creator/supplier.
People don’t respect what they don’t pay for. The comics pages would be a far more valued item today if there were less comics, those comics were of a higher standard, and those comics were more expensive.

I think this move by the Chronicle will be emulated by other papers, because the Houston Chronicle for years has been the flagship of “buy ’em cheap, pile ’em high”, comics pages, Jack Sweeney, the top guy at the Chron has been vocal in the past about how many comics the paper carries.

The Chron has made cuts in its editorial staff recently too, and a couple of years back it also laid off 7% of its staff. They’re looking to save money, and unless it can be demonstrated that an item is generating income, it’ll be dropped.

I’ve never been a person who says “people buy a newspaper to read the comics” they don’t. They buy newspapers to read a comic or maybe two that they really like, no more.
I also maintain that there are only a few comics that most people like. Ten or fifteen features AT MOST, therefore something like 90+% of all comics presently on the slates of the syndicates are filler. They don’t generate reader interest, and therefore don’t attract advertisers.
Some of the worst culprits, the features which NO-one reads, are the ones who have been on the comics pages the longest.
I won’t name them, but we all know who they are.

I note that, amongst the new strips that the Chron has culled (deservedly) some oldies went because they were no longer drawn/written by the original creator?

That’s the first time I’ve seen this given as a reason, but I don’t think it’ll be the last.
I do think a sea change is in the offing, and editors are seriously questioning what a comics page is doing for their paper.

Once again I’ll say it – The major syndicates have been incredibly bad for newspaper cartooning as a profession and as an artform.
No other artistic endeavour has only two or three gateways into the profession, where self-appointed and unaccountable incompetents sit in judgement over submissions.

#26 Eric Burke
@ 9:05 pm

â?They started out paying a lot more for web rights than for print rights, but syndicates were stupid and put their cartoons on the web for free and now newspapers arenâ??t willing to cough up so much money for them. I donâ??t blame them.â?
Iâ??ve never understood why the syndicates give their products away for free, or why the syndicated cartoonists donâ??t join together and try to put an end to their comics being given away for free. Afterall, arenâ??t the syndicates partners with the cartoonists, not employers?

Donald Saxman said it best:

â?If I’m going to go to the Internet for over 50% of my comics and my TV guide data, why bother with a paper copy at all?

I wonder how the advertisers for the paper version of the Chron feel about the advice to go to the on-line version from now on?�

A naive idea:

As has been discussed over the years on Toon Talk, run one comic at the bottom of each page. Next to the comic would be a very simple ad/coupon in the same size and shape as the comic. The comic/ad combo would stretch across the bottom of the page. This still allows for larger adverts(like furniture stores use, car dealerships, etc), but would also allow the smaller business to have an ad in the newspaper. The ads could be daily or weekly, allowing for a variety of businesses to attract customers.

I would think that this type of layout would also allow for more content, what with the comics pages real estate now free…

#27 Garey Mckee
@ 9:43 pm

One thing nobody has commented on here is the comics The Houston Chronicle IS keeping on the printed page will be presented in full color. Do you feel that this is just to try to soften the blow of losing an entire page of comics? Or is it to attempt to draw more readers to a less diverse more focused comics page? And why would one want a less diverse comics page?

The big question in my mind is which comics are being kept on the page and which will be offered online only? I think the answer to that question would really serve to shed light onto the thinking behind this move.

But I must say, as was mentioned on this thread before, The Houston Chronicle does have a great online comics site. You can even build your own comics page from the strips they have available. Not many newspapers offer that feature.

#28 Garey Mckee
@ 9:47 pm

Another thought that just occurred to me is that perhaps this is a move to try to improve The Houston Chronicle’s online presence, to get readers to try their online news services as well as their printed paper. And perhaps they are using the comics as a tool to sway people over? Just a thought.

#29 Dawn
@ 10:21 pm

Color isn’t necessarily a good thing. Some colored comics look terrible, IMO. Depends on who does it, how it’s done, and if the drawing style is conducive to color.

Not everybody is Wiley Miller when it comes to color.

#30 Pab Sungenis
@ 10:25 pm

Not even Wiley Miller is Wiley Miller some weeks.

Then there’s my comic, which is a bitch to produce in color and I’d personally rather not.

#31 Mike S
@ 9:04 am

One thing that needs mentioning is that the content of the newspapers needs a major overhaul. Much of what the papers print today is old news – especially old in light of how fast news can be gotten on the web. And a lot of their national and world news is gotten from the same few sources like Reuters and the AP. They’re essentially printing stuff that people have already read.

I think that newspapers have to develop a much more local and community flavor in order to attract new readers. You have to provide people something they can’t get somewhere else, and right now the papers aren’t doing that.

I work for a small, weekly paper that’s all local, and we do pretty well in generating ad revenue.

#32 Eric Burke
@ 12:57 pm

Just curious…

…but how can running a whole page of comics in color and dropping one whole page of black/white comics save money?

Is plain black ink really that much more expensive than coloring a whole page of comics?

#33 Wiley Miller
@ 3:25 pm

Yes, color is more expensive to print than line art.
This is reason #157 of why colorizing the daily comics makes no sense.

#34 Anne Hambrock
@ 4:23 pm

I don’t know who eats the expense of that color but the process is different for dailies than for Sundays. I am responsible for coloring all the strips for Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee and then sending the files out to the media company. They currently have a different lead time on the Sundays than the dailies because they handle them differently.

While John is a purist who thinks all dailies should be in black and white simply from an artistic point of view, my objection to daily color centers more around the fact that the dailies are so much smaller and the colors are compressed. While they often look great on the DailyInk, our paper squashes the strip so much it can be a real challenge to color in a way that accentuates the strip rather than detracts from it. And don’t even get me started on registration issues – when the registration is off on a complicated outdoor scene, it can really look atrocious.

This does seem to be a trend among more and more papers – ours started color dailies at least four years ago – I am curious how many other papers are doing it and if it has anything to do with strips being in color already on the web.

#35 Chris H.
@ 8:33 pm

I’ve been following this discussion with some interest…
I’m afraid that I don’t have a lot to add to the discussion, but I was wondering about the fact that they are going to be printing their dailies in color now. I had seen that in a couple of newspapers in the past, and I was under the impression (I can’t remember from where) that the newspapers themselves, not the cartoonist or syndicate, do the coloring in that case. Is this still the case with more major newspapers beginning to to have color dailies? Was this ever the case, or is it just me?

#36 Anne Hambrock
@ 10:36 pm

Chris, as I mentioned above, the artist is responsible for coloring the dailies. As far as I know, those who choose not to color their own send their strips to someone like American Color but the papers themselves do not do the color. They just read the files and print them accordingly. Providing daily color is actually in our contract with the syndicate, although I get the impression that this is a pretty recent development and , may not apply to longer running features.

#37 Mike Cope
@ 7:12 am

Our local paper (The Hamilton Spectator) started printing the dailies in colour about a year ago. At that time, they also made some excellent improvements to the way they print anything in colour throughout the paper, so their comic section looks pretty sharp.

However, something that I haven’t seen mentioned here is what I consider the “double-rendered” effect, where a daily strip has been prepared for printing in black and white (and is shaded with a variety of zipatone/dot pattern screens), but then the colour is added on top … Not every comic strip does this, but when you see it, it definitely degrades the overall quality of the strip and could certainly be avoided through the use of computers.

#38 Charles Brubaker
@ 7:58 am


Yeah. In fact, one strip, “Silo Roberts,” were prepared in two versions (one in color and one in b&w/dot patterns) because of that. I think they do that with “Baby Blues” as well.

#39 Norm Feuti
@ 8:17 am

… However, something that I havenâ??t seen mentioned here is what I consider the â??double-renderedâ? effect, where a daily strip has been prepared for printing in black and white (and is shaded with a variety of zipatone/dot pattern screens), but then the colour is added on top â?¦

I use halftone in Retail, but I create a seperate file without halftone for the color version of the strip. Some newspapers use that color file I created, others choose to color the strip themselves … in which case they do so over the B&W halftone version.

So when you see the “double-rendered” effect you’re talking about, it’s more than likely the newspaper’s handiwork as opposed to the cartoonist.

#40 Chris H.
@ 9:16 am

Thanks, I must have missed that.

#41 Eric Burke
@ 1:11 pm

I’ve never liked seeing colored dailies. I like my strips black and white. Call it tradition or whatever you want but there’s just a certain charm to b/w strips that gets dulled with color… color for the Sunday’s…

#42 Dawn
@ 1:38 pm

I’m with you, Eric, when it comes to newspaper comics. But I think color generally works better than b/w online. It just tends to look muddy in print given the size of daily comics.

Digital comics have the benefit of light shining through them, which makes color work well on the Web and for mobile.

#43 Wiley Miller
@ 2:26 pm

The point is, the daily comics aren’t drawn with color in mind, as opposed to the Sunday comics, where color can play in integral part of the design and gag. Slapping color on top of line art doesn’t just muddy the art (particularly because of how small the daily comics are run), it actually detracts from the cartoon, as the color (which, with few exceptions, is NOT done by the cartoonists) misdirects the eye around the cartoon rather than maintaining the focus intended.

Again, there are so many reasons why colorizing dailies is a bad idea and shouldn’t be done, and I have yet to hear even one valid reason why it should continue. Nor can I understand why cartoonists continue to allow their work to be ruined with this artificial process.

#44 Dawn
@ 2:42 pm

Remember when coloring old black and white movies became a fad? BLLAAEEKK.

#45 Eric Burke
@ 4:39 pm

For Wiley, Norm, and any other syndicated peeps here:
Is it a mandatory clause in your contract that your dailies will be colored when needed, and at whose expense? What if a paper wants them colored and the cartoonist says no?

Am I pretty accurate in thinking that King seems to color their dailies more than other syndicates. Does each syndicate have a company stand on coloring dailies?

#46 Norm Feuti
@ 5:48 pm

My contract requires me to produce both a B&W and color version of every daily. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m fairly certain it’s a standard clause for new artists at King Features. Other syndicates, I have no idea.

I color my dailies in Photoshop, so there’s no real cost involved … other than time.

I’m fairly certain that the newspapers that color their own dailies do it at their own expense. I have no say in whether a newspaper colors my strip. Personally, I don’t care if they do it or not.

I think King mostly insists on having color versions of their dailies for the internet. I don’t think it has much to do with print. That’s just a guess, though. I have no idea what their “official” position is.

#47 Garey Mckee
@ 6:30 pm

I’m with Eric, I don’t particularly like colored dailies. I prefer them in black and white. When I draw a strip, I’m always mindful of the flow of the entire strip and the balance of light and dark in the black and white artwork to enhance that flow. I always produce black and white artwork that enhances that flow. Adding color to a strip that was created with black and white art in mind seems to detract and interfere with that flow and balance.

#48 Wiley Miller
@ 6:46 pm

I’m sorry to hear that you’re contractually obligated to produce color dailies along with the regular work, Norm. I’m not surprised that King has inflicted this on new cartoonists breaking in. I don’t know if other syndicates are doing this in their contracts now as well, but I’m pretty certain Universal doesn’t.

But for those of us who are not new (meaning old), we are NOT obligated to go along with this nonsense, and I have NEVER allowed my work to be colorized from the outset. The way I worked around it to be technically colorized is that I only allow them to slap color on the caption boxes. That’s it. They are not allowed to color my art, as they have no idea how to color. But all the rest of the cartoonists go along with it out of fear of losing clients. I’ve proven that’s not the case. Sadly, the only thing more spineless than a Democrat in Congress are cartoonists.

#49 Pab Sungenis
@ 7:43 pm

Wiley, as someone above said, we’re not all Wiley Miller. Most new guys breaking in don’t have the leverage to demand that their stuff doesn’t get colorized. We don’t have the track record or the power to issue that kind of demand.

Plus, ever since Bill Watterson, the syndicates seem to be deathly afraid of artists who don’t want to give up some measure of creative control. I can only half blame them.

I know my contract with AMU allows them to colorize it as they see fit, and if they want to do it they can go ahead. I don’t have the time or desire, but it’s not like I created my characters, either. :)

#50 Eric Burke
@ 7:46 pm

Sadly, the only thing more spineless than a Democrat in Congress are cartoonists.
There really should be some sort of cartoonists union to address issues like this and the topic of giving away free content on the web.

I understand that cartoonists are basically independant contractors in business wwith the syndicates, but it just seems that cartoonists put in too much effort and don’t get enough back.

Mandatory colored dailies for every daily? Criiiipes. Even for someone that’s efficient with photoshop that’s alot of extra work for not much-if any– extra coin.

Thanks for the answers fellas…

#51 Mike Cope
@ 8:02 pm

Not sure if someone can answer this, but are there any considerations with respect to how much time is actually required to colour one syndicated feature vs. another? I’m thinking about the differences between drawing styles here …

For example, a minimal strip with “closed” shapes is simply a matter of point-n-click.

But for those strips where the cartoonist draws more loosely, a lot more time is spent doing things like “closing gaps” or even freehand colouring. I know that vector painting has advantages here, but even Adobe Illustrator isn’t perfect.

Just curious.

ps.. Thanks for the info about my “double-rendering” question.

#52 Norm Feuti
@ 8:09 pm

Mandatory colored dailies for every daily? Criiiipes. Even for someone thatâ??s efficient with photoshop thatâ??s alot of extra work for not much-if any- extra coin.

It takes me about an hour to color an entire week of dailies. It’s not that big of a deal

Sadly, the only thing more spineless than a Democrat in Congress are cartoonists.

Not sure why I deserved that, but whatever. When it came to negotiating my contract, coloring the dailies didn’t even enter into the conversation. There were far more important points to consider.

#53 Wiley Miller
@ 8:54 pm

“Not sure why I deserved that, but whatever. ”

That wasn’t directed at you, Norm. You had no choice in the matter. I was referring to the cartoonists who do have a choice. Sorry for the confusion.

#54 Anne Hambrock
@ 10:53 pm

Because of John’s loose drawing style each Edison daily takes me 40 minutes to an hour and a half – depending on the complexity of the strip. Sundays can take from an hour and a half to 3 hours – again depending on the complexity of the drawing and the number of gaps to be filled. With John still working his other job full time, there is no way he could produce 365 strips in color without help. I am glad to be able to do it.

As I stated above, and Norm confirmed, this was a part of the contract. After 13 1/2 years pursuing syndication, it didn’t seem worth making into a major issue.

#55 JeffM
@ 12:03 am

Anne, I know I am a day late, but happy one year anniverary to you and John on the strip. Here’s to many more!

#56 Anne Hambrock
@ 7:06 am

Jeff, thanks so much! It’s hard to believe it’s been a year already!

#57 Charles Brubaker
@ 7:13 am

Let me second the congratulations. Here’s to another year!

#58 Norm Feuti
@ 7:19 am

That wasnâ??t directed at you, Norm. You had no choice in the matter. I was referring to the cartoonists who do have a choice. Sorry for the confusion.

My mistake. Thanks for clarifying.

#59 Mike Cope
@ 1:27 pm

Anne, thanks for sharing those “stats” and other details. You do a really nice job of balancing those flats and gradients … Congrats re: the anniversary!

#60 Anne Hambrock
@ 2:00 pm

Thanks so much Mike! I work pretty hard to get the right balance to the strip in color. It has the potential for a lot of nuance the way John draws it. Some of that time I mentioned is spent really seriously analysing what to pop and what to drop back. It takes me a long time to color each one because I often change my mind about the particular color family to use on a certain strip so that it feels just right. John is pretty particular about color and always has the final say on any color choices I make so sending the strip out to have color decisions made by someone else would be hard.

One of the artists who I think sets the gold standard for color is Patrick McDonnell of Mutts. If I can accomplish even half of the nuance and artistry that he does, I can die happy. Sometimes, after I have read through one of his Sundays and enjoyed the joke, I just look at the thing for another 5 minuttes enjoying the beauty of the art.

#61 josh s.
@ 4:00 pm

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has enjoyed reading this conversation. Is there a way to contact the various syndicates to see what prompts them to run some features in color on a daily basis? My guess is to increase sales, but some strips look better in black and white, while others lend themselves to color more readily.

My questions would be: which syndicates require new comics be available in color everyday, and why was this decision made in the first place? And – has there been a noticeable effect in sales on the color dailies? Do more papers pick up the “colorized” version?

#62 Alan Gardner
@ 4:05 pm

I agree. This is a pretty good topic and one which I’d love to get some syndicate authoritative information. Give me a couple of days and I’ll report back what I learn from my contacts at the synds.

#63 Cam
@ 4:21 pm

I’m sad to see any comics axed, especially from a paper that seems to have gone out of its way to promote them.

That said, please reread the list of the axed. There are a few that deserved to live — My Cage, for example, or Spot the Frog — but most of the rest of these have been phoned in for years. Wizard of Id? Crock? Marmaduke? Who cares?

At least they had the good sense to keep the newer strips, like PBS and Get Fuzzy, that actually try to amuse.

#64 Mick Mastroianni
@ 9:37 pm

Wow, dropping an entire page of comics… FUBAR

#65 David Horelica
@ 11:44 am

The comics pages was one of the main reasons I bought a Houston Chronicle every day. I say foget the color and go back to the extra comic strips. I may start reading the Dallas Morning News again. When it comes to news they have a way better format anyway.

#66 Glen Radcliffe
@ 8:35 pm

Now comics are missing from the online Chronicle as well…what is going on?

#67 Richard Polunsky
@ 10:25 am

I normally go to Yahoo Comics for my fix, and read the Chronicle on Sundays. I just looked at the Chronicle’s online comics page – very impressive! And with that bookmarked I’m a bit more likely to go back to their online news site which, frankly, used to be abysmal (timeout links and the like).

#68 Laurece Maresh
@ 12:15 pm

I was so disappointed that you dropped The Lockhorns from your daily comic section. We have taken your paper for 4o+ yrs. & have always read the comic section. Is is possible to return The Lockhorns or how can I get this to appear on my e-mail? I would love to read The Lockhorns daily,
Laurece Maresh

#69 Travis Hunt
@ 7:20 pm

Its good that they are keeping the dropped comics on their web page; however, you can’t get to them. There is a stupid advertisement that won’t let you get to the comics. I have gone through the entire ad list (40 or 50) and still could not get to the comics.
What is this garbage for?

#70 Glen Brooks
@ 12:01 am

The Houston Chronicle printed a page of advertisement on the back of it’s Sunday comics page, and in addition, attached a fold-over half page of additional advertisement. They’re not likely to give up that revenue, so an equal amount of newsprint will have to go elsewhere (is the Editorial section next?)
Additionally, they DO NOT web publish the Sunday comics.

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