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New-runs, re-runs, half truths and market speak

Universal Press is apparently working hard to get the word out to editors regarding the For Better or For Worse transition from new material to “new-runs” material. After last years transition to the “hybrid” that left both editors and readers scratching their heads, they have good reason to make sure everyone is prepared. Not to mention that according to one paper editor, other syndicates are allegedly spreading half-truths about the feature’s future in hopes of shaking free the slot for one of their offerings.

Like candidate George W. Bush who successfully changed the image of his 2000 campaign by relabeling himself as a “compassionate conservative” to break the association of a typical conservative, the term “new-runs” has a similar marketing feel. As the syndicate battles to maintain as many of Lynn Johnston’s slots as it can, the new definition is an attempt to convince editors that For Better or For Worse is indeed “new” (not just redrawn re-runs) and as such it shouldn’t be dropped (or question the price that it is being asked to pay for essentially re-runs). The question will be whether editors will see it for what it is – a recycled product with a “NEW” label slapped on it.

Community Comments

#1 josh shalek
August/20/2008
@ 10:03 am

I know this has been discussed to death here, but I think Lynn’s idea is a solid one – it just doesn’t belong in newspapers. She should release book collections of these “new-runs.” That way, she can take all the time in the world to work on them, and the readers could enjoy the stories in batches.

I’m not sure if the syndicate gets a portion of book’s profits, though. Is that why they would be pushing for a continued existence in the newspapers? Does anyone know for sure?

#2 Alan Gardner
August/20/2008
@ 10:20 am

Iâ??m not sure if the syndicate gets a portion of bookâ??s profits, though. Is that why they would be pushing for a continued existence in the newspapers? Does anyone know for sure?

The syndicate has A LOT of money tied up in the For Better or For Worse slot (2500+papers). They are not going to give up that slot/money. While they might make money off of the book, it wouldn’t compare to the amount they’re making with newspapers. It’s all about the money.

#3 steve s
August/20/2008
@ 10:24 am

I would love to see a new Seinfeld episode, a new Calvin & Hobbes strip, or another Fawlty Towers season. This may be about the money, but others have shown it’s not always about the money.

#4 josh shalek
August/20/2008
@ 11:05 am

Thanks for answering, Alan. In a way, that response is heartening. It’s good to know there’s still enough money to be made that makes newspaper space worth fighting for. For those of us who are “unsigned artists,” it means the dream is still alive.

#5 Rick Ellis
August/20/2008
@ 11:14 am

What’s Universal’s backup plan if the FBOFW new/old/newer version doesn’t work? That’s a lot of money to just give up on.

#6 Quint Nelson
August/20/2008
@ 11:30 am

It’s all about money, plain and simple.

Universal Press has confused editors on this situation for over a year now. They have developed a new language in handling the status of this strip. My favorite is “hybrid strips” and now “new-reruns”.

Common sense says follow the money. Give me a break.

#7 Steve Greenberg
August/20/2008
@ 11:38 am

Much as I have loved FBOFW, i just can’t generate any enthusiasm for the “new-runs,” any more than I could for the jarring hybrid throwbacks from the past several months. They would make a fine book collection, but newspapers should move on and go with something new — my newspaper has already decided to do so.

#8 Bill Kellogg
August/20/2008
@ 2:12 pm

I read the article and while there very well may be some out there intentionally spreading half-truths, I think a lot of the half-truths are coming about because the status of FBOFW has changed so many times. I read a newspaper article not too long ago that said FBOFW will be doing one month of new stuff followed by re-drawn reruns. I have also received several e-mails from newspaper editors since March letting me know that FBOFW is ending at the end of August.

This is copied word for word from an e-mail I received from an editor on March 11th.

“bill: you are on my list…
and you know that For Better or Worse is going to end in September, don’t you?
how’s it going up there?”

I certainly don’t fault Lynn or Universal for wanting to keep the strip going. They have built it into an impressive empire. In my humble opinion though, you can’t fault the other syndicates or cartoonists for going after that spot either, especially since most thought it was ending soon until recently.

#9 Bryce Baker
August/20/2008
@ 2:55 pm

Saying the strip is ending or that it’s redrawn re-runs are both true as there will be no new FBOFW strips. Either way newspapers will mostly keep the strip, out of playing it safe. Just think how many papers still carry Peanuts classics after all these years instead of trying out newer edgier strips.

#10 Garey Mckee
August/20/2008
@ 8:08 pm

“Whatâ??s Universalâ??s backup plan if the FBOFW new/old/newer version doesnâ??t work? Thatâ??s a lot of money to just give up on.”

Classic FBOFW

#11 Quint Nelson
August/20/2008
@ 11:37 pm

Actually, United Features built FBOFW into the “impressive empire” it is today. Lynn only went back to Universal Press about three years ago. United handled the strip for many years before that and grew the strip to the size it is today.

Universal has just been using smoke and mirrors to keep the list intact since her return to them.

#12 Bob Quick
August/21/2008
@ 7:01 am

Just in case Lynn is reading this…
LYNN DON’T DO THIS!!!

#13 frank white
August/21/2008
@ 11:12 am

I would love to see another Some Mothers do ‘ave ’em Steve……ooooh Betty!!

#14 Malc McGookin
August/22/2008
@ 12:01 am

Lynn should just retire. Yes, it’s easy for me to say, but I have no sympathy with syndicates who have been sitting on their big fat arses for years without proactively developing the big hit newspaper features of the future.

As gatekeepers to the industry, they chose to adopt the role of innocent bystander in the continued plummeting rates of pay in newspaper cartooning.

#15 Rick Stromoski
August/22/2008
@ 6:15 am

>>>Actually, United Features built FBOFW into the â??impressive empireâ? it is today. Lynn only went back to Universal Press about three years ago. United handled the strip for many years before that and grew the strip to the size it is today.

Um…not accurate.

Lynn left Universal with over 2,000 papers under her belt. She was at United for maybe 2 years or so but left due to creative differences.

#16 Phillip Marks
August/22/2008
@ 2:27 pm

Actually, United Features handled FBOFW for over six years and grew the strip’s list. So I guess Mr Stromoski doesn’t know everything.

#17 Alan Gardner
August/22/2008
@ 2:56 pm

Actually, United Features handled FBOFW for over six years and grew the stripâ??s list. So I guess Mr Stromoski doesnâ??t know everything.

Without any documentation or citation for your claim, how do we know it’s not you that doesn’t know anything?

#18 Rick Stromoski
August/22/2008
@ 3:09 pm

FBOFW had pretty much saturated the newspaper market by the time she left Universal to go to United. United gave her a larger cut of the revenue but she missed her Universal “family” and even told Lee Salem “I want to come home”…anyone who knows Lynn knows this story.

I may have gotten wrong how many years LJ was at United but to say United grew her list substantially is an exaggeration.

I think the Lynn bashing is gotten to the point where history is being altered.

#19 Drew Beran
August/22/2008
@ 3:12 pm

How difficult could it have been to grow the list of a comic so popular it was already in 2,000 papers? That seems like trying to get a grocery store to carry Coca-Cola or a local affiliate to air Seinfeld re-runs. You’re selling the leading brand.

And I don’t think any syndicate could afford to be an “innocent bystander in the plummeting rates of pay from newspaper cartooning.” Syndicates couldn’t survive without newspaper money.

#20 Quint Nelson
August/22/2008
@ 9:17 pm

Excuse me, no one is bashing Queen Lynn. However, there has been a lot of mis-direction & mis-information created by her and her syndicate about this mis-adventure. I think there are plenty of people in the newspaper industry that are fed up with this little FBOFW charade.

I think the ever changing plans for FBOFW’s new-reruns has brought about a lot of justified anger. As the old saying goes, one reaps what one sows.

#21 Malc McGookin
August/23/2008
@ 7:00 am

“And I donâ??t think any syndicate could afford to be an â??innocent bystander in the plummeting rates of pay from newspaper cartooning.â? ”

They’re not. I said they choose to adopt that role.

In fact they’re guilty and complicit bystanders. They peddle what are (for the most part) outdated, irrelevant or simply unfunny features which newspapers use for filler.
Newspaper editors, who never even look at the comics pages, use syndicates to make sure the product arrives on time, and without language that would spook the horses.

The blind leading the bland, in fact.
FBOFW is an ok product. Well written and genuinely popular, but it shines because it’s surrounded by dross. It wouldn’t be hard to create two, three or four FBOFW rival strips if the pay for cartoon features was better, but it’s not. Syndicates know they would never, ever be able to re-create the income that FBOFW presently brings in. It was launched nearly 30 years ago, when newspapers paid better for strips, and the feature has held its audience and its value well. Nothing launched today could come anywhere close to achieving what FBOFW has done.
Anyone who agrees to undergo the development process offered by syndicates these days must have rocks in their head. They’ll be required to supply endless examples of their feature for an indeterminate length of time in the uncertain hope that they might earn some money sometime.

Those are not the conditions which attract talented professionals, merely amateurs saddled with a psychosis, and even they won’t keep banging their heads against that brick wall long.

In the meantime the ideas-bankrupt syndicates try to milk the pathetically few cash cows like Peanuts and FBOFW until the teats run dry.

#22 Wiley Miller
August/23/2008
@ 7:05 am

When one publicly expresses an opinion on any given issue, it’s generally a good idea to have some knowledge and/or experience regarding that issue. What I’ve seen here is a lot of people pulling things directly out of their butt and trying to pass it off as imperial fact.

May I remind folks here that you’re talking about a person and her life… a person that clearly most of you have don’t know nor have even met. Expressing your opinion on the quality of someone’s work is one thing. We all have our personal likes and dislikes, and when we put our work out for public consumption, reaction, whether negative or positive, is all part of the game. And we accept that. But many of you are talking about, and passing judgment on, a highly personal issue. Whether Lynn chooses to retire or not is none of our business.

Lynn has been a close friend of mine for many years, and like all her friends, we know the real story. She doesn’t owe any of you an explanation, nor will I pass along any personal information to help you understand the decisions she’s made. But what I will give you is some broad strokes on things she has made public.

Life has dealt Lynn a series of blows over the past several years which forced her to change the way she went about creating her feature, which she has done without taking any sabbaticals as others have done. And more recently, life dealt her quite a devastating blow, particularly at her age, which would have crippled most people. But not Lynn. This last blow forced her to change all plans she had for retirement.

Now, whether you like her decision or not is a moot point and your opinions on it aren’t just presumptuous, their downright arrogant.

And one last thing regarding her going to United and returning to Universal… Lynn’s decision to go to another syndicate had nothing to do with the sales of the feature, as she was in over 1800 papers when she went over to United. She learned after a while that she had made a mistake in her reasoning and came back when her short contract was up. I won’t go to any more details than that as it’s her business, not any of ours.

So if you don’t like what she’s doing now with her feature, here’s some advice… don’t read it.

#23 Phil Wohlrab
August/23/2008
@ 7:36 am

“Anyone who agrees to undergo the development process offered by syndicates these days must have rocks in their head. Theyâ??ll be required to supply endless examples of their feature for an indeterminate length of time in the uncertain hope that they might earn some money sometime.

Those are not the conditions which attract talented professionals, merely amateurs saddled with a psychosis, and even they wonâ??t keep banging their heads against that brick wall long.”

That’s what I figured out not long ago. That, coupled with this creeping feeling I had that comic strips have devolved to the point where newer readers are not being added. Specifically, children. Schulz is so praised because everyone read his stuff when they were growing up. I don’t think kids are growing up with comic strips so much. At least not the ones in the newspaper.

#24 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 8:35 am

â??Anyone who agrees to undergo the development process offered by syndicates these days must have rocks in their head. Theyâ??ll be required to supply endless examples of their feature for an indeterminate length of time in the uncertain hope that they might earn some money sometime.”

Well, I suppose that if you’re in a band you won’t want to gig for 15 years before you get a break to open for the sex pistols. Or if you’re a writer, you tear up your manuscript when it comes back from the editor with little notes in the margins. Or, if you’re an Olympic athlete, you give up when get to Beijing because you don’t want all that pressure.

Gimme a break. Success isn’t easy.

#25 Corey Pandolph
August/23/2008
@ 8:54 am

â??Anyone who agrees to undergo the development process offered by syndicates these days must have rocks in their head. Theyâ??ll be required to supply endless examples of their feature for an indeterminate length of time in the uncertain hope that they might earn some money sometime.

Those are not the conditions which attract talented professionals, merely amateurs saddled with a psychosis, and even they wonâ??t keep banging their heads against that brick wall long.â?

Yes, because every other venture/risk in life has a 100% guarantee of success.

There seems to be a wave of arrogance washing over a lot of folks in comics… More so than usual. Apparently folks think that their work is so good, so polished, that they are without the need of critical eyes or adverse opinions of their feature.

Syndicates may not be the answer for all, but writers need editors. Just because you built a nifty site for your feature and your fellow cartoonists pat you on the back each time you “find time” to post a comic, doesn’t mean you’re any good. You may be great, but it’s not an automatic epiphany just because you learned CSS and Comic press.

Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can be a benefit for your creative juices, but throwing the right educated asshole in the mix may help you convey your thoughts in a fresh and hopefully, comical manner.

And I’m not starting up a new debate of the old debate, here. I don’t care what medium of entertainment you’re in, if you can’t take criticism, or outright rejection, and use it to improve your work, then get out of the industry. I’m sick and tired of gaggles of cartoonists crying foul each time someone critiques their work, or an “editor” rejects them. Stop cry-assing and flipping over the monopoly board in a hissy fit. If you had one good idea, chances are you have ten… Get back to work and shut up until you have something better.

I may be an unlikable jerk, but I’m man enough to listen when someone other than my wife or father has a legitimate critique â?? My dogs have remarkable insight when it comes to the nuances of inking a page.

And for the record, I like having editors and I like being part of a newspaper syndicate. I may have rocks in my head, but they are candy-coated rocks filled with cowboy whisky and smoked bacon.

Here’s to the evisceration of the meek,

Das Faketh Rockstario Pandolph

#26 Mike Lester
August/23/2008
@ 9:17 am

Wiley, If I read you correctly, you just called for limits on speech if you don’t think the speaker knows what he’s talking about.

Or more simply: you won’t tolerate intolerance.

#27 Wiley Miller
August/23/2008
@ 9:18 am

“I may be an unlikable jerk…”

Aw, c’mon, Corey… don’t be so hard on yourself.
You’re likable! :-)

Seriously, when it comes to the need for editors (which we do), I like the Star Wars analogy. The first three Star Wars movies were produced by a studio, where George Lucas had to deal with the studio brass in making his movies.

When he came back years later, he was able to finance the movies himself, bypassing the studio suits. I remember when I first heard about it and thought how great the renewal of the series was going to be now that Lucas had complete creative control. Well, as we all found out, it’s important to have someone along the way to help reel you in sometimes or steer you in another direction.

In time, you can (and should) get to a point where you need very little editorial input. But you still need someone there on occasion to let you know something doesn’t work. We usually fight against that, but usually see later on that they were right. It’s a matter of trust, though, as not all editors are created equal.

#28 Wiley Miller
August/23/2008
@ 9:20 am

“Wiley, If I read you correctly, you just called for limits on speech if you donâ??t think the speaker knows what heâ??s talking about.”

No, you read that incorrectly, Mike. I’m simply saying that one should think about what they’re opining about before they post it publicly and ask themselves if they really know what they’re talking about before they make an ass of themselves.

Now shut up.

#29 Josh McDonald
August/23/2008
@ 11:11 am

“In time, you can (and should) get to a point where you need very little editorial input. But you still need someone there on occasion to let you know something doesnâ??t work. We usually fight against that, but usually see later on that they were right. Itâ??s a matter of trust, though, as not all editors are created equal.”

I know I’m nowhere near the point Wiley is talking about here, but I’ve certainly found that what he says is true. It’s easy enough to BS myself into believing an idea works, or is good enough, or nobody will notice those flaws that I just don’t feel like reworking. But a good, brutally honest second opinion is probably any artist’s greatest asset.

#30 Wiley Miller
August/23/2008
@ 12:42 pm

“Itâ??s easy enough to BS myself into believing an idea works, or is good enough…”

Anytime a cartoonist thinks that an idea is “good enough”, it isn’t.

#31 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 1:38 pm

That’s not necessarily true. One of the most difficult things about writing is you have to ultimately make yourself laugh, and just hope others might too. But one of the more interesting phenoms that I have experienced is when you deliver 6 strips on Monday and you think you have 3 really good ones, 2 good ones, and one that you’re not sure of, but here is the deadline. Then, someone tells you after they’re all printed that they loved the one you weren’t sure of. I’ve learned to never be sure.

#32 Wiley Miller
August/23/2008
@ 2:11 pm

I think you missed my point anonymous-Steve (you might want to check out the rules of this forum and not be rude to the host).

#33 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 2:49 pm

Since when is it rude to disagree with a blanket statemnt?

I assume of course, you are joking.

Just click on my name to see who I am. I ain’t hidin nuthin.

#34 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 2:50 pm

Since when is it rude to disagree with a blanket statement?

I assume of course, you are joking.

Just click on my name to see who I am. I ain’t hidin nuthin.

#35 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 2:52 pm

I think I might be crabby because it’s a beautiful Saturday and I’m inside working on a deadline.

#36 steve s
August/23/2008
@ 4:22 pm

Wait. How can I be crabby? It’s Obama/Biden!!!!!

#37 Mike Peterson
August/23/2008
@ 4:23 pm

As an editor and fan but not a cartoonist, let me suggest that cartooning is one of those career fields that doesn’t divide very neatly into the personal and the professional, given the level at which many cartoonists invest their work with elements of their own lives. There are certain strips where it’s very hard to criticize the strip without criticizing the author on a personal level, and certainly FBOFW is one of those strips.

I’ve interviewed Lynn Johnston and we had some friendly exchanges afterward. It was not a “friendship” but it was an enjoyable professional relationship and I have great respect for what she’s done, not only with FBOFW but also in terms of some mentoring I know she has done with younger cartoonists. She is a thoughtful, creative, pleasant and engaging person.

That said, when a strip reaches the heights of FBOFW and then begins to falter, it’s going to get harsher criticism than when a mediocre or insignificant strip starts to fall apart. Not only is it too important to be ignored, but it also has a long way to fall creatively … and that’s where the Star Wars analogy comes into this.

The past three years or so of the strip have been self-indulgent, illogical and heart-breaking. I don’t know how to say that without it becoming personal.

And I think the strip should end. I think it’s run its course, and reading it now is like watching Willie Mays fading from glory instead of walking out on top.

Whether that means Lynn “retires” or tries a new strip or creates a FBOFW world of TV movie specials, web site features, stuffed toys and memorabilia isn’t part of the issue. I wish her the best, and I mean that honestly and sincerely.

But it’s time to step aside and hand that valuable real estate over to someone else.

#38 Josh McDonald
August/23/2008
@ 5:31 pm

I don’t know Ms. Johnston, and of her recent personal difficulties I only know what has been reported publicly — and from some personal experience I can only imagine how difficult it has been for her. If the quality of her work has suffered some recently, it’s certainly understandable. I for one don’t mind giving her the opportunity to work through what she has to work through. People recover from these tragedies, usually coming out stronger for it; I’d like to think her best work is still yet to come.

#39 Phil Wohlrab
August/23/2008
@ 6:44 pm

Wasn’t there some call for Schulz to give it up as well? She’s earned the spot, She should stay there as long as she feels she’s got something more to say.

I mean everyone wants to give these wannabe cartoonists that struggle to draw in perspective a chance in to be in the paper, why not give a pro another chance?

She was a medical illustrator for petes sake. She went to medical school, and took anatomy courses. There’s a lot of skill that lies behind that strip. She’s a pro. I have a real problem with non-pro’s telling a pro when to shut it down.

#40 Mike Peterson
August/23/2008
@ 7:34 pm

The calls for Schulz to hang it up that I recall came between his stroke and his death, and were more along the lines of “Don’t beat yourself up with this — You’ve got nothing more to prove.” Very different.

(And, by the way, if you have to be a peer to criticize somebody, there aren’t many cartoonists out there who have the standing to criticize Lynn Johnston.)

Johnston’s situation is unique and is of her own making. Part One is that her strip is unique not in that the characters age and change but because the strip is about those changes. Other strips have characters grow older, though rarely in real time. But FBOFW is about the changes in the Patterson family.

Part Two is that she had the ambition to follow the kids when they left home — really follow them, not just have them drop in on holidays. That was a very difficult thing to do and it required her to essentially write three or four strips at once and interweave them — Mike’s life, Liz’s life, John and Elly’s lives, could have each been standalone strips.

And Part Three is that she made the decision to retire, and the accompanying plan to bring all those disparate threads together.

If beloved old Joe Artist announces his retirement and then either changes his mind or finds that for personal reasons he has to keep working, his long-running strip, Gag-Laffarama, can simply keep going with the main character continuing to step on rakes and wash his car just before it rains and rush off to work late only to discover it’s Saturday.

But that complex, continuing storyline of FBOFW is coming to a conclusion, and there have been a lot of somewhat contrived things happening to the characters in the past five or so years in order to tie up all the loose threads that, however you judge them critically, really do lock in that end point.

The idea of the hybrids doesn’t seem to work because what was groundbreaking in 1979 has been imitated and built upon in the intervening decades and the strips are not fresh, whether they are redrawn or not.

It’s got nothing to do with her talent, except to the extent that, if she weren’t such an incredible creator, well, then, yeah, the strip could pretty much go on forever. As many lesser artists have proven.

#41 Garey Mckee
August/23/2008
@ 10:23 pm

“but throwing the right educated asshole in the mix may help you convey your thoughts in a fresh and hopefully, comical manner”

That’s probably the greatest thing I’ve ever read on this site.

#42 Malc McGookin
August/24/2008
@ 2:52 am

Lynn should retire, and I don’t have to be a pro to say that. I could just be a fan.

As it happens I’m a pro cartoonist and have been for a long time.

I believe Lynn wants to retire, she seeks the peace and contentment that retiring could give her, without the responsibility of providing for other people.

Problem is, there are people out there playing on her loyalty, her good nature and her finer feelings.

No, Lynn will not be “back” the way Sparky bounced back. He didn’t stop drawing and kepr his humour muscles toned. I was a critic of the way Peanuts had dropped in standard, but in the years prior to his passing we saw the old magic return.

Neither will Watterson be back, nor Larson. They have done their dash. I repeat that those “in charge” have been woefully inadequate in their stewardship of this industry, and lazy, unimaginative, uninspired editors are complicit. There will be no more newspaper features of the stature of FBOFW or C&H. Those days are gone.

#43 Phil Wohlrab
August/24/2008
@ 10:08 am

“Lynn should retire, and I donâ??t have to be a pro to say that. I could just be a fan.”

Fair enough, I wasn’t contesting anyones freedom of speech. But you say there won’t be anymore great strips like C&H or FBOW, so whats the rush to end FBOW, if there’s nothing new that’s equally as good coming down the pike?
I agree with you. There are a couple of recent features being launched that are just hideous.
I’ve no problem making room for new talents like Cul de Sac, but lets not make room for no-talents.

Some of these strips actually last. “Housebroken” has been in my paper for a while and I don’t know who thought that was a good idea.

#44 Mike Cope
August/24/2008
@ 10:20 am

While I dare not pretend to know Lynn Johnston as well as some of the other Daily Cartoonist regulars, I was honoured (and literally speechless) when she phone me from her house on a Sunday afternoon earlier this year to chat about some work that I’d sent her.

Being a 31-year-old Canadian cartoonist, I grew up admiring Lynn’s work on many levels. Although I still consider myself a ‘young’ cartoonist–and hesitate wielding the title ‘professional’ despite facts to the contrary–that phone conversation will always remain one of the most memorable moments in my entire career. At best, I was hoping that Lynn might scratch a few notes and return my cartoons in the SASE that I had provided. And so, when she took the time to call and personally offer a critique (both good points and bad), well, that was perhaps the most inspiring â??reality checkâ?? I could ever hope for.

I donâ??t remember how long our conversation lasted (my heart was racing from the moment she introduced herself), but the only reason why Iâ??m sharing this is because I cringe reading all of this public bashing from fellow ‘professional’ cartoonists. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, and I appreciate the fact that Alan equally provides everyone here with a soap box, but Wiley was spot on for reminding folks that theyâ??re talking about a person and her life.

Many of the snide comments seem to come from those who would seek to supplant FBOFW … Yes, thereâ??s no doubt that current state of the newspaper print industry sucks for many aspiring comic strip cartoonists, but how many times do people need it be reminded that Lynn has spent her entire career (and life) getting to where she is today?

I think sheâ??s earned the right to do whatever she wants with HER feature.

And itâ??s none of OUR business.

#45 Malc McGookin
August/24/2008
@ 3:39 pm

“I think sheâ??s earned the right to do whatever she wants with HER feature.”

Including retire it.

#46 Wiley Miller
August/24/2008
@ 4:30 pm

>>â??I think sheâ??s earned the right to do whatever she wants with HER feature.â?

Including retire it.<<

Precisely. And she has opted to not retire it. So how is this personal decision on what she’s going to do with her life any of our business and worthy of even discussing here? You don’t like the direction she’s taking with the strip? Fine. That’s all fodder for discussion on these forums. So the only options you see is for her to do her strip the way you want or to retire? Just a tad egocentric there, don’t you think?

Her strip is no different than anyone else’s. If you don’t like what she’s doing, then don’t read it.

#47 Malc McGookin
August/24/2008
@ 4:50 pm

I DON’T read it, Wiley.

I know enough about it to see why it’s popular, but I don’t read it. Don’t know the names of characters, how they relate to each other, nothing.

I’m not basing my opinions on how much I like the strip, or (and take note) how much I like Lynn. It’s the principle of the thing.

I don’t count Lynn Johnson amongst my personal friends, and I’ve never had a conversation with her face to face OR by phone. I don’t need to to have an OPINION on this issue.

That opinion is based on what she has said publicly, not on what I have manufactured out of my imagination.

Lynn said: “Initially that was my plan (to retire like Watterson, Larson, etc), and I had sort of speculated on what type of work would fill that space, because that little piece of real estate in the newspaper is a pretty coveted one. Then when Universal Press said that they felt there was real opportunity to run the older strips, I thought about it and decided that their argument was a good one”.

So she wanted to retire but her syndicate persuaded her to keep going. Fine. I think she should have stuck to her guns, because I think carrying FBOFW on in the proposed manner will lessen it, lessen her and ultimately take away everything she has achieved.

But hey, I’m not her friend, right?

#48 Wiley Miller
August/24/2008
@ 5:22 pm

There was a lot more to her decision making than just the syndicate posing an option for her. She wasn’t talked into anything, just given an alternative to deal with situations that unexpectedly came up.

Again, it’s a personal decision that we all make in our lives (except for those who are forced into a mandatory retirement). Sometimes events postpone retirement plans. But it’s still a personal decision, not an artistic or ethical issue. It has nothing to do with any of us anymore than what clothes she chooses to wear would be.

#49 steve s
August/24/2008
@ 6:48 pm

None of this should even matter. If a strip is featuring repeats or rehashed versions of already run strips, the newspapers carrying it might want to (should) look at carrying another strip. If a product isn’t up to snuff, then don’t buy it. But then again, this doesn’t really happen. If it did, I’d see strips like Cul De Sac and On A Claire Day in my paper instead of Peanuts and Garfield. The Gatekeepers should be the newspapers themselves. Perhaps there are still enough readers of FBOFW in this new form that they want to keep carrying it, which is a simple business decision.

#50 Malc McGookin
August/24/2008
@ 7:57 pm

Wiley, you know I’ve got the greatest respect for you, but I have to disagree on this one.

It has everything to do with us whether a feature like FBOFW sees out its time in dignified fashion or whether it’s propped up by artifice to keep the shelf space for the syndicate.

Let there be no mistake here, this is purely about business – cold hard cash is the motivation, not any concern for Lynn’s welfare or her reputation, and beyond that it is detrimental to cartooning as an art form and a profession.

The whole concept of posting old FBOFW strips is an interesting one, but (as has been mentioned before) it should be in book form, in a collection for the FBOFW purists.
I think there are legions of them, but I doubt if they are interested in seeing these archival, historical strips scattered piecemeal amongst later work in newspapers by a team of admin workers.

#51 Wiley Miller
August/24/2008
@ 8:21 pm

I think we’re looking at this from two different angles, Malc.
You’re looking at it from the syndicate’s perspective, and I’m looking at it from Lynn’s perspective.

It still boils down to it being Lynn’s feature to produce, or retire, in the manner she sees fit. And she’s going to do what’s best for her life, just as anyone else would do. Time will tell if she’s made the right decision or not, as there have already been several reports of newspapers not liking the idea and getting ready to drop it. Then its a matter of how they’ll deal with the reader response.

In any case, she chose not to retire. And that’s pretty much the final answer. Her life, her decision.

#52 Malc McGookin
August/24/2008
@ 9:33 pm

I think I’m seeing it from an independent cartoonist’s perspective, and that (once again, imho) has to be the most dispassionate, objective and clear view. Once personal friendship comes into it, the lines become a little fuzzy, that’s human nature and unavoidable.

Lynn Johnson flagged as early as 2001 that she was ill, she felt she had lost her perspective and that she wanted to retire – no, even more than that, she was GOING to. She set the date and the clock was ticking.

What happened after that was she was got at.

I wasn’t there in the meetings, or in the room when Lynn took the phone calls, but I know she was persuaded to carry on after her projected retirement, with promises that she need not actually lift a finger.
It would be all down to her team of artists and the syndicate’s marketing department. The feature would continue on in the same way El Cid did when they propped up his dead body on his horse and sent him to battle the Moors.

Still, that was apparently his decision too.

#53 Wiley Miller
August/25/2008
@ 6:37 am

“I wasnâ??t there in the meetings, or in the room when Lynn took the phone calls, but I know she was persuaded to carry on after her projected retirement, with promises that she need not actually lift a finger.”

Ok… if you weren’t there, or in the room when Lynn took the calls, or even know Lynn, then how could you “know she was persuaded”?

But, yes, she was persuaded, but not by the syndicate. She was persuaded by drastic and unexpected changes in her life, Malc. As long as she’s doing her feature, she can produce it any way she wants. Your El Cid analogy would be apt if she died or retired and the syndicate kept it going.

#54 Wiley Miller
August/25/2008
@ 7:02 am

I forgot to mention that my knowing Lynn personally has nothing to do with my position on this matter. I opinion on it is the same as with other features where the creator of the strip has assistants helping produce it. I have no problem with that, as that’s their personal and business decision. Once they’re dead, however, it becomes another issue. Yes, I know it’s a fine line, but it’s a distinct one, as the creator is no longer around to oversee the final product.

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