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LA Times Story On Newspaper Comics Crisis

Nothing new in this piece about an upcoming panel on newspaper comics but it's a bit... galling to hear a bunch of established cartoonists quoted as saying nothing new is every going to be any good.  I guess I'm specifically reacting to this quote from Cathy Guisewite:


To me a strip should run forever because it's a classic.  They have meaning to me, and no new newspaper strip is going to earn that place in my heart.


Leaving aside lots of additional snark I could write about this piece, a few thoughts on the neverending story of the newspaper comic "crisis".  Of course newspaper comics are in trouble - the entire newspaper business while still generating profits every year is not growing.  Many newspaper companies though are starting to get the fact that they're in the news business - not the newspaper business.  Either they are trying to adapt or they're planning on squeezing as much cash as possible out of the papers until they die.

Webcomics are still a messy and chaotic place but it is growing.  Maybe we'll never have a Calvin & Hobbes again in terms of sheer audience but that's no different then most mediums - we'll never have a M*A*S*H-size audience for most television shows again either.  That doesn't mean we won't have television, or comics, that is as good or better but with so many more choices around the audience will by definition be smaller.

Egon says "print is dead" so

Greg Carter's picture

Egon says "print is dead" so the hell with newspapers anyway. Damned tree killers!

Greg Carter
UpDown Studio

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

To me a strip should run

To me a strip should run forever because it's a classic. They have meaning to me, and no new newspaper strip is going to earn that place in my heart.

Absolutely not. This only leads to anachronism. Newspapers are supposed to be about NEW stuff, not stuff from the 1930's.

anachronism in comics

EricMillikin's picture

I have no problem with anachronistic comics. It's not like that's all newspapers run. And I'm not at all surprised that there are some readers who enjoy "classic" comics, just as there are people who like reading literary classics, watching classic movies, or listening to classical music or classic rock. The newspapers here in Detroit do a pretty good job of balancing older feature with the latest offerings -- you can read Pooch Cafe right below Zippy the Pinhead which is between Peanuts and Rex Morgan, M.D.

As much as I'd love to have a newspaper that was perfect for just me, I'm guessing that might piss off most of the other million readers.


Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

I have often wanted to refer

Iain Hamp's picture

I have often wanted to refer to most of the papers currently in print as "oldspapers". Certainly seems more accurate.

Out of context a bit

LineItemVito's picture

Not to start a flame war, now that everyone has comfortably expressed their outrage, but I think Guisewite's quote was taken a bit out of context. She was expressing HER feelings about the comics she grew up with and how new comics won't replace the feeling SHE has about them. That's why she said she wants the classics to run forever. In the next paragraph she says she wants more space for comics in the paper to make room for the new cartoonists while still retaining the older ones that people still enjoy reading.

And, in the bulk of the article all of the cartoonists who were interviewed agreed that newspapers were hurting the development of comics / cartoons and hurting themselves in the process.

We're in violent agreement.

Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Listen to Eddie, he makes

Listen to Eddie, he makes sense.

However, I think the problem is that too much of the business is run by people like Guisewite in their tastes. They may KNOW that new cartoonists are needed to replace the old, but they don't FEEL it in their bones, and too often, feeling prevails. They want the kinds of comics that drove them to get into the business in the first place. It's natural to do so. But it's wrong.

We can also see that dynamic in many comic-book publishers. Sometimes we risk loving comics to death.

The whole article

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

smacked to me of people who even if they didn't mean that way, sounded like "we got ours and we don't want to give it up, so tough to the rest of you." 



Xaviar Xerexes 

I am a Modern Major Generality.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Except in webcomics nobody,

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Except in webcomics nobody, no matter how successful has any power to prevent anyone from getting theirs. The internet is the closest thing we've got to a meritocracy.

"meritocracy"? With all the

LineItemVito's picture

"meritocracy"? With all the crap that populates the top 10 of comic list websites? Where a well-advertised mediocre comic can buy popularity?

But you said, "closest thing"... so maybe you're right. Compared to other channels, the Internet is way, way open.

Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Vote Vito: Line Item Vito

Yah'd think that... But

The William G's picture

Yah'd think that...

But yeah, it all depends upon the crowd you're going for.

The William G - Romantic Drama, Post-Apocalyptic Monsters, and More Comic Experimentation

Stubborn creative

oolong's picture

Stubborn creative conservatism will never die. In 1971, my father legitimately believed that music had reached its peak. Led Zeppelin's IV was, according to him, so good that there was nowhere to go but down. Now, he asks me to burn me CDs of the stuff I listen to. Is IV still a classic? Sure. Is there anyone in the world, old or young, who is so boring that the only thing they ever listen to is IV? There's no accounting for taste, but I sure hope not.



The William G's picture

Dahn dahn dahn-dahn-dahnnnnn~
Dah-dah dahn
Dah-dah dahn
Dahn dah-dahn dah-dahn

Oh wait, sorry... That was "The Ocean" offa Houses Of The Holy...


The William G - Romantic Drama, Post-Apocalyptic Monsters, and More Comic Experimentation

Classic My Ass

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Oh god, I could go on for hours about how much I detest Cathy. I truly hope I don't live in a world that considers that strip a "classic".

Personally the amount of craps I give about newspaper comic strips is not even two. I have not read a newspaper regularily since about 1994 when more and more of my news started to come to me over my modem. I think the last time I picked up a newspaper was when there was a story about me in it. So if they haven't got a clue as to what they need to do to survive the electronic information age, well sucks to be them. The sooner we put Hagar the Horrible and Wizard of Id to rest, the better.

I've found a number of syndicated cartoonists have a pretty warped attitude about their celebrityhood and merit.

To syndicated comic artists: most of you are not famous, most of you are not outstanding talents in the field of all things comic. Most of you produce bland, boring crap that people only read because it just happens to be on the same page as Dilbert or Fox Trot or one of the other popular strips.

To webcomic artists: stop trying to emulate the bland pap and stale characters you read in the newspapers. Your chances of being syndicated are almost NIL. Tens of thousands of people submit their comics for syndication each year. The syndicates pick what? Two? Three? Maybe four? You are pioneers on a brave new frontier. You have the opportunity to explore, to blaze new paths which will set the standards for the future of the comics industry. Stop viewing the internet as a means to an end which is rooted in a stale and dieing business and distribution model. Start viewing the internet as a new world to explore, conquer, and settle. Don't aspire to be obsolete.

As for legacy strips. God help me but I will have failed as a parent if the greatest accomplishment my children will know will be just continuing the works which gave me my glory. So your daddy was a famous cartoonist and you want to be a cartoonist too. Great nothing wrong with that. Stand up on your own two feet. Make your own comic. Stop feeding off the corpse of your father's creativity.


Tim  Demeter's picture

[My solution] to that would be to devote more space to comic strips.

Oh, come on, I don't care HOW out of touch you are, everyone knows THAT isn't going to happen. This isn't a solution it's a BS talking point so Guisewite doesn't have to come out and say "I don't need to be funny or draw well, I've got tenure, baby, so the hell with anyone trying to break in!"

Ridiculous. Keep talking tough grandma, your day's coming.

Tim Demeter
Reckless Life

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Bustout Odds

Galling quotes

Brad Guigar's picture

As I commented about this earlier on my site, it sets up a vicious cycle. Syndicates gauge the timidity of newspaper editors, and as a result, choose only the blandest offerings to syndicate.

That means even the bravest newspaper editor has a watered-down selection to choose from if he or she actually wants to find some new talent for the comics page.

I wasn't quite as upset as Ms. Guisewite's comments as some otheres. After all, she has a vested interest in legacy strips.

What bothered me was the attitude of Denise Joyce, president of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors.

From the Times: "Denise Joyce, president of the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, says that while comics are not the huge player they used to be 20 or 30 years ago, they are definitely on the minds of features editors.

"Regarding legacy strips, Joyce admits it's difficult to replace them without making their fans angry. As a compromise, Joyce says her paper is running some comics online and Web-linking to others."

Of course, once their newspaper readers discover comics published on the Web, they're bound to discover a much wider world of comics that aren't available in their newspapers, aren't they? Comics that are neither watered-down nor timid.

So, in a way, people like me are indebted to the myopia of people like Ms. Joyce.

I used to love the comics in

Slackmatic's picture

I used to love the comics in the paper and to a point I still do, but it is amazing to me that any of these cartoonists think that their situation will change for the better if they keep the old stuff going into oblivion. For a time I thought about submitting my comic Kitty Litter to newspaper syndicates. After awhile I realized that I probably had just as much chance as getting signed as I did getting a ton of readers on the internet. And on the web I can do any format I want, I'm not censored and I'm in complete control of my art. I'm willing to bet that more and more cartoonists may take this route than diving into newspaper syndication. The vast majority of "kids" I know read Penny Arcade and haven't even heard of Bloom County. This is the direction we're moving in. Good for us.

Kitty Litter

Guisewite she say

To me a strip should run forever because it's a classic.



Xaviar Xerexes's picture



Xaviar Xerexes 

I am a Modern Major Generality.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Cathy Guisewite's quote in

bobweiner's picture

Cathy Guisewite's quote in that article had me fuming - it harkens back to the old codger's way of thinking "Keep it the same, don't shake the boat." Please - no offense to the late Charles Shultz - but let "Peanuts" R.I.P. for the love of God. It's this pervasive attitude that newspaper comics editors have that is killing the comic page. The comics page is largely B-O-R-I-N-G, because editors are not willing to take the risk to inject some new blood into it. The printed newspaper comics are dying - slowly, but they are dying.

Unless these editors seriously rejigger things (not holding my breath on that, though) the web is where it's at, as far as I'm concerned.

Krishna M. Sadasivam Cartoonist, "The PC Weenies"