News briefs for August 10, 2009

I’ve got a big deadline to meet today, that and couple it with the server issues this morning, I ran out of blogging time. I’ll be posting back here tomorrow. Until then, here are some of the headlines.

Comic Strips

» The Fusco Bros has turned 20. The strip is done be JC Duffy.

» The Denver Post is conducting a poll right now of their comic line up.

» The Ukiah Daily Journal is announcing a comic poll? Or maybe just talking trash about older comics? Can’t tell, but this is the second such writing from a journalist who pulls off the glove when talking about their views on the comics.


» Scott Nickel interviews Mark Parisi about his panel Off the Mark.


» The Comic Seminar (see the ad on the homepage of this here blog) is down to it’s last remaining 16 seats (out of 60). If you’ve been thinking, toying, debating about attending, better get your seat reserved before someone else does.

42 thoughts on “News briefs for August 10, 2009

  1. For obvious, self-promotional reasons, I’ll excerpt the section of the Ukiah Daily Journal article that addresses comics — it’s way at the end of a long article, and anyone could be forgiven for giving up before reaching it:

    ‘Now that we’ve all had time to get over the loss of Blondie and Peanuts and Beetle Bailey and the rest of those stale old comics the Daily Journal ditched a few months ago, can we agree the replacements are a great big improvement?

    Editors know that when they drop comics readers go berserk, or at least pretend to. There are always a lot of threats to cancel subscriptions, etc., when some moldy old non-funny comic like “Family Circus” gets tossed. It happened at the Daily Journal when those tired old duds were let go.

    All I’m saying at this point is give the new ones a look ­ they’re actually way better than the terminated strips. “It’s All About You” and “Home and Away and “Watch Your Head” completely smoke the 1950s era comics they replaced. Give them a try for ten straight days and you’ll see.’

    The point here is not to diss older comics but to point out what’s possible if editors of all persuasions actually get behind newer material. It’s no secret that many “older” comics are out of steam — not because of their age per se but because the creative inspiration that was once behind them is gone. Especially if the work is now delegated to hired hands.

  2. Heh… While I agree that getting rid of stale old strips is a good idea, I don’t necessarily agree that “Home and Away” and “It’s All About You” are good replacements for anything. “Watch Your Head” is quite good, though. Good choice there.

    Still, why should “Peanuts Classics” still run in ANY paper? I love Peanuts to death, and Charles Schulz is one of my heroes, but there’s no reason for a paper to run a strip that everyone knows is never going to have anything new or fresh or even remotely topical. I think it’s fine for sites like and that run classic strips, but newspaper space is precious. Newer strips and cartoonists should be given a chance, even if they’re as bad as “It’s All About You” and “Home and Away.”

    In short, nostalgia has no place in the funnies these days.

  3. <>
    Darn tootin’ Ben. Excellent point…wait, I’m still reading….<>….DOH! Oh well, permission to use that glowing testimonial in my sales kit:)

  4. Tony Murphy writes “There are always a lot of threats to cancel subscriptions, etc., when some moldy old non-funny comic like â??Family Circusâ? gets tossed.”

    The Family Circus has probably introduced more children to the comic pages than any other strip in the last 60 years. Simply because it is written and drawn so that young children beginning to read can understand it and get the humor. It’s the first strip they can actually relate to. When my daughter Molly was young the first comic she read and loved was the Family Circus. It’s still the first feature she reads every morning. The Great Lynda Barry adores Bil and the Family Circus and wept when she first met him. As children age and begin to understand the more subtle nuances of other features, they still can appreciate how Bil and now Jeff have brought the comics to life for them. For this reason I greatly admire what the Family Circus does for the comics pages and believe it has earned it’s place wherever it appears.

    Just as the Dick Jane and Sally books brought a generation to learn how to read, the Family Circus has done and continues to do the same for comics appreciation.

  5. I think Blondie is the best “classic” strip being produced today. Great artwork and some good gags mixed in.

    But Beetle Bailey…really?……seriously, really?

  6. Did my regional civic duty and completed Denver Post poll. I wonder how much weight that actually carries when it comes to making the cuts? Do the editors make mostly-populist-driven decisions to avoid “…threats to cancel subscriptions, etc., …” ?

    All I know is I’d like to see more of what we have in the dailies show up in the Sunday colors.

    And…yay Fusco Bros!….they are hiLARious!

  7. Rick

    Look at the quote again. Those were not my words, they were the words of the Ukiah Daily Journal writer. I’m somewhat challenged when it comes to HTML, so I didn’t bold or ital it, but I did put that section in single quotes. (I also made the point that I was excerpting that section — the clue is in my use of the word “excerpt”). The last, un-single-quote-surrounded paragraph was mine, where I made it clear that my intention was not to diss people but to have the comics page opened up.

  8. As Rick correctly points out, all comics are geared for different demographics of readership. Just as you don’t compare Ann Landers with George Will, you don’t compare all comics with other on the same playing field. Otherwise, you wouldn’t need more than one comic strip.

    The dead cartoonists are one thing, and (I think) a legitimate target for cancellation, given the dire straights of our market today. But strips like the Family Circus and Garfield are still being done, or overseen, by the very much alive creator of the feature and are aimed at the very young reader, as well as having strong followings of older readers.

    All comics, like columns, should be assessed on the quality of the feature itself in its effectiveness in reaching and holding its intended audience.

  9. Rick’s point was not “correct” because he thought I was calling Family Circus moldy. I was doing nothing of the kind.

    I found his impassioned defense of Bil Keane interesting, but he wasn’t responding to what I was saying. Your initial response was more on the mark when it came to the point I was actually making.

    The target of my post was CLEARLY editors, not other cartoonists. I happened to use a quote by one editor who was putting down some strips. That’s his opinion.

    For what it’s worth, I like Garfield. Amongst many cartoonists, it’s become iconic as a crassly produced product. I can see why someone would feel that way about it, but I think it’s well done. The joke construction in that strip should be studied by other cartoonists.

  10. I find it funny how quick Wiley Miller is to defend Rick Stromoski. Rick roams around the web constantly causing trouble and then quietly crawls away. His only point is to “shake things up.” Perhaps he should go see a therapist and save us all the drama.

  11. I wasn’t “defending Rick Stromoski”, I was agreeing with him. I also agree with the editor in dealing with the old comics on their page, although not specifically with his choices. I’m just glad to see an editor do their job without resorting to idiotic comics polls.

    And I didn’t see Rick’s post as being combative in any way. He was simply posting an opposing opinion. Why is that disagreement seen as “causing trouble”? I think he had a very valid point and he stated clearly without any rancor. It seems to me you’re the one trying to pick a fight here, Tom.

  12. My intent in posting was not to take Tony to task but to defend The Family Circus as a legitimate strip still worthy of its space on the comics page. I had no intention of “stirring” anything up other than to give voice to and support an exceptional strip against a quote that labeled it moldy.

    How Tom or Tony can take offense at this is beyond me.

    Now back to my webcrawling constant trouble causing activities.

  13. “I find it funny how quick Wiley Miller is to defend Rick Stromoski.”

    In which case, maybe you need to pay special attention and try to figure out why such an untoward event came about. In this case, it was because Rick was unmistakably, clearly correct.

    (I found it kind of funny to see Wiley defending Rick, too, but since I’d read what Rick posted, I had to agree.)

  14. “…roams around the web constantly causing trouble and then quietly crawls away.”

    If that description was about the lead character in a new comic strip I’d read that strip.

    Would he carry a gun, too?
    Maybe a pick axe or an inner tube full of steel shot…

  15. Can Wiley Miller and Rick Stomoski please just go away? Enough of their tiresome foolishness. Their self-importance is laughable at best. The only one who cares about their silly rants are themselves.

  16. Alan, would it be possible to allow only posts with thoughts and opinions that I completely agree with? Because this having to consider new ideas, especially from the likes of Miller and Stromoski, is terribly inconvenient….

  17. “For this reason I greatly admire what the Family Circus does for the comics pages and believe it has earned its place wherever it appears.”

    No strip can be said to have earned its place. Each strip must do that on a daily basis. It’s no secret that comics are the only medium where that fallacy endures, to the detriment of the entire medium.

  18. Just a note of clarification:

    While GARFIELD is certainly read and enjoyed by children, it’s not aimed at that audience.

    GARFIELD is written as an all-ages strip.

  19. Actually, Scott, the primary audience for Garfield is young readers. It didn’t start out that way, but that’s what it evolved into over the years and how it’s marketed today. That doesn’t mean adults can’t enjoy it as well.

    I’m sorry… did I just post another tiresome, foolish, self-important rant again? Dang…

  20. Actually, the Garfield property is marketed to all segments of the population — kids, tweens, adults, families.

    Thus its huge success.

    Certain parts of the program are geared specifically to kids; but others — like the strip, calendars, greeting cards, many of the books — are created to be enjoyed by all ages.

    Trust me. I work for the Cat. 🙂

  21. >>>No strip can be said to have earned its place. Each strip must do that on a daily basis. Itâ??s no secret that comics are the only medium where that fallacy endures, to the detriment of the entire medium.

    Hi Ted…I guess I should have succinctly clarified what I meant by the quoted statement. (I seem to have to do that a lot lately)

    I in no way intended to imply that FC earned its place so it can just rest on its laurels. No strip or feature should. And those that do should be weeded out.

    I think FC continues to draw young readers to the comics pages and does it effectively.

    Perhaps if I worded it this way :

    â??For this reason I greatly admire what the Family Circus does for the comics pages and believe it has earned its place and CONTINUES to earn its place wherever it appears.â?

  22. I appreciate that F.CIRCUS, GARFIELD, etc. recruit young readers to comics w/ entry level content. -a common marketing practice. But the game has changed: Newspapers are under assault and if it’s true that the comics rank as a major attractant for the over served consumer, it strikes me as unwise for newspapers NOT to create/promote/give an audience to an adult audience w/ newer content. That’s the television model.

    I also reserve the right to be completely wrong and have Rick and Wiley smite me w/ their might swords of righteousness (the “w” isn’t silent in the South).

  23. I’m not sure it’s a sword, Mike, but it is dangerous nonetheless. Their (Wiley and Rick’s) “righteousness” is suffocating and unfair to the others on the blog. They – like all of us – have a right to their opinion. It’s the tag-teaming that I hate. Also, I would love for someone to really make a case for what makes “Family Circus” so great. I don’t remember liking it as a kid… only Garfied. Did any of you? And how many times can we see “Dead Grandpa”? Why can’t he just die already???

  24. Wiley said:
    “I said the PRIMARY market is young readers, and Iâ??m referring to the strip.”

    Wiley, can I ask, what do you base this on?



  25. @Tom Calderon – I think the Family Circus was the first cartoon collection I ever purchased with my own money at my elementary school book fair – I was probably in the 1st or 2nd grade. I also purchased Garfield’s first collection too. FC doesn’t do it for me now (my humor has changed), but many people find it endearing. It’s been said over and over and over – just because it’s not your kind of humor, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same. The faster everyone appreciates this fact the faster we can move past the pompous “that comic sucks” discussions.

  26. “Wiley, can I ask, what do you base this on?”

    How the syndicate markets it to newspapers.
    I agree with you on that it is also marketed to all other age groups, as it does go across the board, and it is enjoyed by all age groups. But the focus by the syndicate in selling the strip and keeping it in papers is its appeal to, and attraction of, younger readers.

    I don’t think we’re really disagreeing on anything here, Scott.

  27. I miss those old pocket paperbacks of Family Circus, Peanuts, Hi & Lois, Dennis the Menace, etc. I still have a few & now my kids are discovering them. I guess the new $50-$200 hardbacks are cool, but I have to say that comics just don’t look right if they’re not on newsprint.

  28. Speaking from the consumer/client side, rather than as creator or reader:

    I don’t really care who Garfield is intended for. It appeals to kids. If I were designing a comics page (and I have in the past), I would bring in Garfield because it’s very popular with little kids. If that’s not the intention of the corporation that produces it, I’m sorry. Would you feel better if I didn’t buy it, rather than buy it for the wrong reason???

    As for the idea that newspapers shouldn’t carry comics that appeal to children because of some crisis they’re in, that’s just silly. It is entirely possible (brace yourselves!) for a single newspaper to carry Garfield, Cul de Sac, Pearls Before Swine, Judge Parker, Watch Your Head and Doonesbury on the same page on the same day. And if that’s not astonishing enough, the same newspaper can cover sports, entertainment AND politics on the very same day!

    Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Ya’ll should look at a newspaper some time. They’re quite interesting.

    And I’m still chuckling at the thought of Wiley Miller and Rick Stromoski as a matched set. Yeah, sure — written by Bunny Hoest, illustrated by John Reiner.

  29. Tom, I don’t think any one dominates any of the threads on TDC, but I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage active, well-known, good, syndicated cartoonists from discussing things on this forum. I think their insights add validity and interest to this site (for me anyway). I think, you and many others (including Rick and Wiley and Mike and the texas chainsaw guy and …) on the forum have strong opinions and defend them, but I don’t see anyone dominating the discussions. Bottomline is I hope everyone, including you keep posting their opinions. The key is to keep the personal issues aside and focus on the subject matter at hand. My 2¢ anyway.

    BTW – what were we talking about, oh yeah, shark week …

  30. I’ve managed to hold on to two Family Circus paperbacks for about 30 years. I think I was about nine when I stopped appreciating the strip. Then I was about 30 when I started appreciating it again. Everyone in the Keane family is so talented and I just can’t knock a strip known for consistent, yet very mild, family humor. The people who seem to like it the most are those who never had a stable family life. A dear friend of mine borrowed my two paperbacks when we were about 16. He had a severe learning disability and could not read that well at all. His stepmother gave him Lonesome Dove to read (I still laugh at that …. great book, but what an awful thing to make a beginning reader wrestle). Needless to say, he read the Family Circus a lot and skipped Lonesome Dove (his story has a happy ending, but it took a long time). Family Circus represented everything that his life wasn’t. I don’t think we’ll see that audience speaking out when Family Circus gets slammed on the Internet. So, yeah, it’s earned its place in the paper and has built a nice following.

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