January 13th, 2009
05:11 PM ET
Update, 1/15: The AJC's Frank Rizzo e-mailed to point out that the AJC has cut back from 1-1/2 pages to one, not "two full pages" as I wrote below. I've edited the passage. Thanks to Frank, and I apologize for the error. – TL
My hometown newspaper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is cutting back - like almost every other newspaper in the country. Yesterday, the cutbacks reached one of my favorite sections: the comics.
Until Monday, the AJC ran two full pages one-and-a-half pages of comic strips. Now it’s down to one.
The good news is that the strips it dropped includes “Judge Parker,” “Cathy” and that perennial car accident, “Mary Worth.” The bad news is that it still has “Curtis” and “Garfield.”
I’m not surprised they’re cutting down the comics page, though comics have long been ranked a favorite of newspaper readers. But there are fewer newspaper readers in the U.S. than ever - and, as “Pearls Before Swine” cartoonist Stephan Pastis told me in 2006, even comics can’t seem to reverse the trend.
Though, he pointed out, the “edgier” strips haven’t always been given much of a shot.
"If you ask 20 people in their 20s and 30s if they get a daily newspaper, I'd bet 18 would say they don't," he said then. "It may be too late [to attract them]. And if you cancel us [younger strips] because we're edgy, in 12 years, will you say, 'What happened?' "
Twelve years? In 12 years I may be the only person left who still reads the comics in a newspaper. (What can I say? I’m old-fashioned that way. In fact, the AJC just started running the daily strips in color, and it looks wrong. Call me a curmudgeon, though not this one.)
So I want to know: Do you care about the comics? Do you care about reading them in a newspaper, or is online just fine? And if you had to choose between “Cathy,” “Mary Worth” and “Judge Parker,” would you sooner drop yourself down a mineshaft?
– Todd Leopold, CNN.com Entertainment Producer
P.S. To change the subject to a different kind of comic, PBS begins airing its six-hour history of American comedy, "Make 'em Laugh," Wednesday night. From what I’ve heard, it’s well worth tuning in.
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