The comic strip debate continues.
One of my favorite strips of all time has been Lynn Johnston’s For Better or For Worse. It’s been running a story structure for, what, 29 years now? I read it when I was a kid, a teen, in college and now as a father. That’s a pretty good sign that the strip has legs.
But, she’s retired and the syndicate worked out some kind of deal with her to rerun old strips, add in some new art from time to time, and maybe new copy as well. It’s as if George Lucas has taken over comic strips now and we are going to get the ‘revised’ versions with better special effects…but it was the story I cared about Goerge!
I’m not happy about this because (as you know I ramble on about this quite often) I think this type of behavior really screws up the entire medium of comic strips. An art form badly in need of a kick in the pants instead gets – more of the same. Reruns of old strips and artists replacing old dead artists, and kids taking the strips from dad ETC.
This would be OK if papers offered an ever growing number of pages of comics. But they don’t. The fact that so many strips refuse to die means good, new, exciting strips have nowhere to go. It’s a bad thing for cartoonists, for newspapers and for the reading public. Innovation comes when new people pick-up an art form. Pixar to Disney in the 1990′s. When Peanuts (the comic strip) started running in papers compared to the long-in-the-tooth story strips. If you want new, exciting comic strips, that means – we need to SEE new, exciting comic strips.
There is one newish strip I actually look forward to reading. Richard Thompson’s Cul De Sac. What if this great new strip ends up in only 25 papers because old strips never die? People don’t get to see it. Readers never exposed to it. Not because so many GREAT strips are running, but because so many formerly great strips just won’t go away. I hope that Cul De Sac is getting out there and finding a home.But if it isn’t, well, we know why. All those strips from the 1930′s – still running!
Is the comic strip reading public going to have only antiques to read? With all these old strips hanging around, how do new cartoonists have a chance of getting their work seen and get paid? I mean, the web has some nice offerings, but for the most part the money isn’t their for people to spend full time doing a strip for their website.
I guess the syndicates have the most to lose if this kind of behavior is curtailed. They can keep thee revenue streams alive, strips they developed 30 years ago that do nothing but bring in profit. If they actually had to compete in the market with new ideas and fresh strips, oh my god…another syndicate MIGHT get that spot on the page.
Papers are blind to the damage, and thus they continue their dog paddle into the deep end of the irrelevant pool of media. Having given-up, for the most part, on having real, local news to pull readers in, they buy mostly AP and syndicated materials and reprint 100 year old comics. Yeah, that’s a sure way to stay relevant.
Anyway, I’ll miss For Better or For Worse. Great strip, one of the greatest. I’ll look in on it and see what I think. I have a feeling it will be like having endless leftovers. Pork Roast again…I mean, it WAS great last night, but again? And again? And again?
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