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More comic trials and two big features dropped

» The News Observer has added two new features in their paper (in trial mode). They’ve started to run Dog Eat Doug and Tina’s Groove. The two will run through September 6.

» The Daily News (WA), is replacing outgoing Diesel Sweeties with It’s All About You. They also decided to permanently drop Doonesbury citing how expensive it was and how it had polled poorly.

» The Atlanta Constitution Journal has already reported that after For Better or For Worse ends its original story-line material at the end of this month that it will drop the feature. Taking its place will be Daddy’s Home.

Community Comments

#1 Jesse Cline
August/11/2008
@ 11:08 am

I hope this trend continues. I would love to see a “changing of the guard” amongst syndicated comics.

#2 Jim Thomas
August/11/2008
@ 12:19 pm

My local paper still runs Peanuts (one of the finest strips ever no doubt, but it belongs in online archives and those beautiful reprints), Beetle Bailey (is it too controversial to address a current war in a strip about the armed forces?), Garfield (Get Fuzzy is more original than this predecessor and Garfield minus Garfield is bringing it new life online), Marmaduke (Has this ever been funny?) and so many other “Legacy strips”.

The comics page is both a literal sign and metaphor for why people in their early thirties and younger do not read the newspaper. I have read much made about whether or not newspapers are dying and the differences between web comics and traditional print and I have been confused as to why there is so much debate. To even the most casual observer to this changing of the guard, the answer seems so clear. Newspapers WILL continue to die out for three reasons: 1. Newspapers are surviving now only because of the faithful, conditioned readership that grew up before the digital age 2. They are doing nothing to bring in new readers. All of the content and format seems stuck in the past; so desperate not to lose their current readers the newspapers have neglected the future. Newspapers, as they exist now, created their own downfall. 3. The future talent that will be the content providers, not just in comics, but in all areas are moving on to newer media where their voice is more accepted and wanted. The newspaper is old media, designed for older readers, with day late news and comics that don’t speak to this generation, or the previous one.

Bring on new features and don’t be afraid to piss off your old readers to gain new ones. The window of opportunity to condition kids into the habit of reading a newspaper instead of/or along with the internet is quickly closing. You have already missed those of us in our 20s and 30s.

#3 anne hambrock
August/11/2008
@ 1:34 pm

In this never ending debate about older strips vs newer ones I seldom see reference to the true answer to the dilemma. EXPAND THE COMICS. Keep the older strips that please the current readership and add newer ones to attract new readers. If needed they could even be in different sections of the newspaper so that the one group would not have to put up with the sensibilities of the other. All the complaining about falling revenues and the expense of running comics is pointless – comics don’t really cost the paper that much overall. At least newer features don’t because I see on our monthly statement what each paper pays per week and it’s a drop in the bucket. I also know what their ad rates are (having run ads for my other business) and those rates are NOT a drop in the bucket.

Readers have said the comics are important to them and every editor I have ever spoken to admits that they get more mail about comics than any other part of the paper (except possibly the editorial cartoons!) so why this stubborn refusal to add more comics? I also don’t buy the “cost of newsprint” arguement – I mean we’re talking about 1/2 a page to 1 page here. If the papers are so afraid that they are on the way out anyway, what could it hurt to try it?

#4 David
August/11/2008
@ 2:38 pm

Newspaper’s have Sunday comics sections, all comics + a few ads and such. Why can’t they do the same during the week, giving the comics their own section and thus adding an extra 2+ pages of comics!

And since the comics probably the most popular section in the paper, newspapers could charge a premium for advertising in the comics section.

#5 Scott Metzger
August/11/2008
@ 2:42 pm

[i]Readers have said the comics are important to them and every editor I have ever spoken to admits that they get more mail about comics than any other part of the paper (except possibly the editorial cartoons!) so why this stubborn refusal to add more comics?[/i]

This baffles me too. I can only assume that most editors view comics as “kid’s stuff” — not something to attract adult readers.

A few weeks ago, the SF Chronicle tested some new comics, asking readers for feedback about which ones they should add. (They also asked for feedback about which comics they should drop.) They were FLOODED with responses. (Hmmm…what does that tell you?)

It seems that most newspaper editors haven’t learned this simple lesson: [b]people LIKE comic strips — and a good, eclectic comics page will help them build and retain readership.[/b]

#6 Mike Sieber
August/11/2008
@ 3:40 pm

I have to agree that getting rid of legacy strips isn’t the answer. The reason those strips are around is because there’s a large enough readership who enjoy them. My dad still loves Beetle Bailey, but would simply blanch at something like Pearls Before Swine. Sure, there’s going to come a time when Beetle’s audience is completely gone, but until then, the papers can’t alienate their current crop of readers.

I think that one answer to bring in younger readers is to expand the comics, as a previous poster stated.

One thing I could never understand is, if the comics are one of the most read pages in the paper, why not sell ads on those pages? You may have to split the comics over a few more pages, but you wouldn’t have trouble selling premium ad space on those pages.

It’s true that the newspaper industry is in a state of evolution, and some papers just won’t survive. The ones that do will do so because they offer readers content they can’t get anywhere else – ie more local news coverage as opposed to AP stuff that anyone can get off the web.

#7 Rod McKie
August/11/2008
@ 4:45 pm

Editors are not the sharpest tools in the box.

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