Is this the beginning of the end for the daily printed comics page in many American towns and cities?
Michael Cavna and The Washington Post cover the disturbing trend of U.S. newspapers kicking comics to the curb (or to the their websites), in particular the recent Lee Enterprises decision to standardize their funny (half) pages.
Comics sections in many papers have been shrinking for years, but [Dan] Piraro says the across-the-chain changes by Lee Enterprises feel less gradual. “Seeing the dominoes begin to fall at such an accelerated pace is scary”
Cavna contacted a number of cartoonists.
“I long for the days when all editors could make their own decisions about their comics lineups,” [Rick] Kirkman says. “They number fewer and fewer these days.”
Patrick McDonnell, creator of the strip “Mutts,” underscores why comics are a popular staple of the newspaper, with readers developing long-term relationships with their favorite comics: “Over time, the characters are like family. Newspapers should consider this bond before they decide to make drastic changes.”
“Comic strips were created — by editors and publishers —for a very good business reason: to attract and hold readership in order to beat out the competition,” says Wiley Miller.
The Cavna’s WaPo report reveals that the non-daily Lee Enterprises newspapers are dropping their comics page entirely:
Other Lee newspapers will drop their print comics sections entirely. The biweekly Franklin News-Post in Virginia wrote that as of Sept. 14, it would cease to publish comics and puzzles.
It also covers the Dilbert situation:
The shift made headlines when cartoonists such as “Bizarro” creator Dan Piraro and “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams said that they had lost Lee client newspapers. Adams said he had lost 77 papers. Creators are still working to determine the full impact of these changes, including how their strips’ online presence is affected.
The claim by Scott Adams that Dilbert lost all 77 papers of the Lee chain doesn’t hold up. As seen above neither The Franklin News-Post (left) nor The Opelika-Auburn News (right) carried the Dilbert comic strip. Checking the first dozen papers listed at the Lee site shows a third of the papers didn’t carry Adams’ comic strip (Opelika-Auburn News, Dotham Eagle, The (Munster) Times, The Pantagraph).
Despite what some may think no comic is carried by every newspaper, not even Garfield or Blondie.