As we hit the week of Lee newspapers’ cuts to their comics pages, we also come to the week
that News Corp Australia newspapers cut not most but all the comic strips they were carrying.
Gary Clark is the creative genius behind the comic strip, Swamp. First published in 1981 by the Sunshine Coast Daily, the strip is seen in newspapers throughout Australia and Europe, including Scandinavia.
If you’re a tragic devotee of comic strips, you may find yourself disappointed when rifling through the newspaper.
The final funnies section has been printed, with News Corp Australia dropping its cartoon strip from all its mastheads.
Gary Clark is the creative behind the iconic Swamp Cartoon Strip and has featured within Queensland papers for decades.
He says while it may be the end of an era for newspaper cartoons, the future of comics is far from dead.
Swamp creator Gary Clark talks to Australia Broadcasting Corporation (radio) about the loss of so many client newspapers, his process of creation, and how he sees the future of his profession.
Has News Corp Killed the Newspaper Comic Strip?
It’s a habit that is still going strong today.
Every morning as I’m sitting down having my breakfast I fire up my Herald-Sun App, go to the comics page then to the “Today’s Paper” section and read the comics as they would appear in the day’s physical copy. Then if I have time, I’d read some sport and maybe a general article.
In the past the Herald-Sun has published comics such as Blondie, Robot-Man, Hagar the Horrible, Andy Capp, Snake Tales and Garfield. In more recent years Ginger Meggs has gotten a guernsey and in 2013 The Phantom returned to the comics page. This was a cause of much celebration in the Victorian Phan community!
However, even though Comic Strips have long been synonymous with newspapers, News Corp (who owns the Herald-Sun amongst others) is cancelling their comic strip page!
While De Paul and Manley were burying The Phantom, News Corp Australia was burying comic strips. It wouldn’t be surprising to find The Phantom
is was printed in more newspapers there than in America.
Stephen East for the Chronicle Chamber (“By Phans, For Phans”) contacted the current Phantom force of Tony DePaul, Mike Manley, and Jeff Weigel about the newspaper situation Down Under.
Tony DePaul: I suppose News Corp has made a judgment that the readers most likely to cancel over comics are being canceled by time anyway, and at an ever-accelerating rate. That probably explains why the company’s doing away with comics altogether and not simply moving them over to its websites. If readers who get their comics from newspapers are bowing out on the obituary page, money once spent appealing to them can just as well go to shareholders.
Jeff Weigel: I’m not sure anything can do that today for an industry as antiquated as the print newspaper. Comics will survive and thrive in the future, but I doubt newspapers and their comics sections will. I expect that ten years from now you’ll be getting your Phantom fix someplace other than a daily sheet of inky newsprint. The world continues to spin. The Phantom will have to find a way to keep pace (but he’s always been pretty good at adapting to his times).
Mike Manley: Comics are more popular globally than ever and while comic books like Spidey sell less and less Kid Lit has exploded! Schoolastic has a Spidey book that way outsells Marvels. So, I see comics as healthy and these old models like newspaper strips and even direct sales comic as days numbered.
These comic creators, and the Australian publisher of The Phantom comic books in Australia, had much more to say. Read the full article and comments here.
But newspaper comics are not dead yet. The hope is that reader outcry will change News Corp’s errant ways. And there are more than just Murdoch papers in and around the island-nation-continent.
Tasmanian newspapers: while the Mercury drops its comic strips, the Examiner and the Advocate retain theirs.