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Check out comics page from 1947

Herald Journal comic page from 1947
Herald Journal comic page from 1947

I found this Herald Journal comics page from 1947 from a link provided by Tom Spurgeon. I think Tom’s point was the use of the word “butthead” in the Archie comic strip. As I looked at the page, a couple of things strike me. Despite having a much large page size, content is really, really crowded. Apparently “white space” was an undiscovered principle then. Next – most of the comics are serials (not a big surprise, actually) and lastly – advertising in the same space as the comics – in fact having the same placement and dimensions as the other comics – like an in-line Google Ad.

Community Comments

#1 Stephen Beals
April/27/2012
@ 9:38 am

It’s funny you mentioned the lack of white space. I think this actually looks better than some of the 1950s comics pages from The Los Angeles Times (which they’ve posted somewhere on their site).

The comics were so crammed together that I found them very hard to read. Of course, I was looking at a .pdf. Maybe it was better full size.

#2 Michael Pohrer (MJ)
April/27/2012
@ 10:23 am

Ha! The advertising as you mentioned was not a huge surprise to me. I have pages from newspapers that did this alongside my published cartoons from the 80’s. In some cases I noticed the ads were of the same size or even larger than the cartoons.

#3 Rob Zagrobelny
April/27/2012
@ 11:10 am

It looks like the comics page being crowded with older strips isn’t just a modern complain. Except for Steve Canyon and Archie, all of these strips are 10-20 years old.

#4 Darryl Heine
April/27/2012
@ 12:39 pm

No Blondie on this comics page?

#5 b.j. dewey
April/27/2012
@ 4:17 pm

White space would relieve the crowded look, but it is surprising. Wonder what the Sunday pages looked like? I’ve got a “Peanuts” strip from the Sunday comics page in the 1971 Milwaukee Journal and it takes up half a page.

#6 Mike Peterson
April/29/2012
@ 4:09 am

Probably a significantly larger page to begin with, remember. Papers began going to narrower web widths about two decades ago and have accelerated recently. So the page seems crowded but there’s more real estate involved and the strips are larger, which alleviates some of that.

Selling ads to go with comics makes sense, but my experience was that, at a lot of papers, the comic page is advanced (in the layout, not the actual printing, of course) and so last minute ads can’t be dropped in, nor can last minute cancellations be yanked without a hassle.

It’s a combined impact of automated programs that insert the ads in the layout and a cutting of staff which makes it more compelling when people whine that it’s too much work.

#7 Alex Hallatt
April/29/2012
@ 11:35 pm

I was struck by how wordy most of the strips are. My editor would never let me get away with that on a regular basis as most readers wouldn’t have the time to read it.

#8 Mike Peterson
April/30/2012
@ 3:54 am

Well, there’s that, Alex.

People go on about how the Internet killed newspapers, but TV had a lot to do with it — the more media came into the house, the more divided our attention became. In 1947, radio had been around as a mainstream medium for about 20 years, but, while TVs existed, there wasn’t a lot to watch yet. For the white collar worker getting updated before work with a morning paper or the blue collar worker debriefing at night with an afternoon paper, that was their contact with the outside world. A generation earlier, they’d have had chapters of serialized novels in there, too.

#9 Marc Davidson
April/30/2012
@ 5:05 am

If it’s your favorite comic strip, your eyes forgive the lack of white space.

#10 Michael Pohrer (MJ)
April/30/2012
@ 8:44 am

@Mike Peterson – That is extremely odd you mentioned chapters of serialized novels. I also have newspapers that ran a feature like this from the 80’s also alongside my cartoons. The chapters were condensed, but it still happened.

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