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Comic page changes for the week

» San Jose Mercury News has picked up Baby Blues, Candorville, DeFlocked and The Duplex. Outgoing strips include: Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Hagar the Horrible and Frank and Ernest.

» The Oshkosh (WI) Northwesterner is starting a poll asking three questions: Which two comics in The Northwestern are your absolute, cannot-do-without strips?, which two comics would you kill without remorse? and which two comics would you like to see added to the paper?

» The Duluth News Tribune has reduced their Sunday comic section from six to four pages, but with some redesign work they were able to add Foxtrot only only have to drop only a couple of kids features: Magic Eye, and Ask Amy. In their daily selections they have dropped Gil Thorp and Judge Parker and added Beetle Bailey and Hagar the Horrible

The fine folks at United Media tell me the following papers have picked up some of their features:

» New Britain (CT) Herald and Bristol (CT) Press will begin running Frazz dailies starting today.

» Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ) and The Tri-City (WA) Herald will begin running Luann dailies beginning on June 21 and 22 respectively.

Community Comments

#1 Wiley Miller
June/1/2009
@ 8:01 am

“Which two comics in The Northwestern are your absolute, cannot-do-without strips?, which two comics would you kill without remorse? and which two comics would you like to see added to the paper?”

Why is it that you never, EVER, see this same poll question asked of the readers regarding columns… or ANY other features?

#2 Scott Stantis
June/1/2009
@ 9:41 am

Because, Mr. Miller, as you and I already know, most editors HATE cartoons. They resent them. They are popular. Far more popular then anything else in their publications. They are not the written word which is sacred. The popularity of cartoons and comic strips only serves to confirm what editors truly think; their readers are idiots.

Hard to believe a business model based on the notion that the managers of the business hold their consumers in contempt while cutting the things the consumers enjoy most is failing…..

#3 Wiley Miller
June/1/2009
@ 10:08 am

The irony, as I’ve stated here many times before, is that comics were created by editors for a very sound business reason. And it worked. Today’s editors have absolutely no clue why they carry comics and, as Scott correctly points out, openly resent their popularity, as well as their readers.

#4 David Reddick
June/1/2009
@ 11:12 am

This is why I find independently-produced webcomics so refreshing… because it cuts out the ill-informed, demographically-biased view of the newspaper editor who, as stated, HATES comics (and editorial cartoons, because they make readers call in and gripe, and no editor wants to deal with that) and views them as taking up “valuable” space that could otherwise be taken up by the same national 1-2 day old drivel that every other newspaper in the coutry is printing (excluding small hometown newspapers who focus on local news). They do not possess the accurate view that this wonderful form of entertainment is what DRIVES most readers to even OPEN their publication.

#5 Milt Priggee
June/1/2009
@ 11:17 am

As I said in an earlier post….

Comics are THE third rail of newspapers becauseâ?¦ managers of newspapers HATE comic strips. They hate comic strips because they donâ??t know their market, their product OR their customers.
When you score that kind of hat trick you have companies going bankrupt faster than they can downsize.
Newspaper managers hate comic strips because they represent money going out where money could be coming in to their bottom line.
Newspapers are no longer platforms of mass communication run by their builders, they are now financial instruments mismanaged by investors.

#6 Darrin Bell
June/1/2009
@ 11:42 am

Just a correction: The first item should be the “Santa Cruz Sentinel,” not the “San Jose Mercury News.”

#7 Wiley Miller
June/1/2009
@ 12:07 pm

@David Reddick:

I don’t think you understand, David. Comics were created to help sell a product, newspapers. And it worked beyond their wildest dreams. So well, in fact, that the comics quickly became, and remained, the most popular and widely read section of the paper. Over time, this became a sore point for editors who think comics are beneath their editorial dignity and began to neglect them. It is not mere coincidence that the more comics shrank, so did circulation. Editors simply refuse to connect the dots.

Newspapers aren’t in business to sell comics. Comics are in business to sell newspapers. The analogy of the stand alone web comic simply doesn’t fit here.

#8 Darryl Heine
June/1/2009
@ 2:10 pm

You can’t get Garfield in San Jose, California’s Mercury News anymore? Does the San Jose Mercury News still carry Classic 1962 Peanuts? In the San Francisco/San Jose/SF Bay Area you can still get access to Garfield in the San Francisco Chronicle.

#9 Darryl Heine
June/1/2009
@ 2:12 pm

OOPS! Sorry, Garfield still lives in the San Jose Mercury News!

So the San Francisco Examiner and the Santa Rosa papers in the Bay Area might carry 1962 and 1996 Classic Peanuts strips still…

#10 Darryl Heine
June/1/2009
@ 2:16 pm

How many newspapers have dropped For Better or For Worse since the Fall 2007 hybrid and/or since the Fall 2008 all flashback mode now that Santa Cruz and not San Jose has joined the list?

#11 Ted Dawson
June/1/2009
@ 8:03 pm

I say we pool our money and buy some newspapers…

#12 Charlie Azzara
June/1/2009
@ 9:05 pm

What’s the over/under on Judge Parker getting a reprieve at the Duluth, MN paper?

Guesses? Anyone?

#13 Brian Fies
June/2/2009
@ 9:37 am

Darryl: The Santa Rosa Press Democrat carries the older Classic Peanuts and will no doubt be the very last paper in the world to do so. With good reason, I think . . .

Alan, Darryl’s right. I see how you got mixed up (does the Mercury News own the Sentinel?), but the comics changes in that article are in the Sentinel, not the M-N. Big difference in circulation there.

Wiley, it seems to me that your carefully and correctly explained point about comics existing to sell newspapers is one that eludes most editors, readers, and even syndicates and cartoonists these days. I have mixed feelings about that: on one hand, I think that misunderstanding leads to some fundamental errors that hurt the business, such as syndicates giving comics away free online. That has never made any sense to me at all. On the other hand, as an appreciator of comics as an artform, I kind of like the idea that they’re worthy creative products in their own right, able to stand on their own and support themselves. Except that most of them can’t, which is your point about standalone webcomics representing not just another business model, but almost a different product.

#14 Wiley Miller
June/2/2009
@ 9:49 am

The Portland Press Telegram (Maine) still runs Peanuts Classics.

And I remember back in the 90’s when syndicates were first developing web sites (as were newspapers). Back then, the syndicates posted the comics on a delayed basis, two weeks or more, so that they wouldn’t compete with newspapers and undermine their own sales. This made a lot of sense to me.

In addition, I seem to recall that newspapers made their content available only to paid subscribers at the beginning. This, too, made sense. What doesn’t make sense is why it all changed and everyone gave away their product on the web.

#15 Brian Fies
June/2/2009
@ 1:36 pm

Typo: “Darryl” = “Darrin” in my paragraph 2. Sorry, Darrin. Fuzzy brain, fast fingers.

#16 Jennifer Ware
June/5/2009
@ 1:35 pm

I’m glad to see my old hometown newspaper is running Deflocked. I read it everyday online and I think it’s one of the funniest comic strips in years. It’s now a top three with my other faves – Pooch Cafe and Cul de Sac.

#17 Toni
June/5/2009
@ 8:23 pm

The Duluth News-Tribune took a poll. 2700 peoples voted to bring back Hagar the Horrible and Beetle Bailey. Many other comics were offered up as new comics (Argyle Sweater, Cul de Sac to name a few). None made it in.

Instead they brought back Beetle and Hagar and dropped Judge Parker and Gil Thorp.

Can says it all doesn’t it? I think my fellow Northlanders up here have their brains permanently frozen.

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