November 11, 2007
Comics curmudgeoning

sigh Why must the Chron mess with my comics?

The good news is that, Monday through Saturday, one page of comics will be printed in color.

The bad news is that, Monday through Saturday, the number of pages devoted to comics will be reduced by one.

The Sunday comics pages will not be reduced. There will be one slight change. Sherman's Lagoon will be added to the lineup, replacing My Cage.

The comic strips that are being dropped can still be found online at You can even build your own comics page by using tools available at that site.

Why is the paper doing this? It's a cost-cutting measure. The Chronicle has run more comics than other newspapers for years, but syndication fees and increases in the cost of newsprint make these changes necessary. The decision was made only after other serious cost-cutting measures were implemented at the paper.

I'm one of those hopeless throwbacks for whom nothing quite compares to the experience of reading a newspaper in its original form. I love online content as much as anyone, but I have a longstanding habit of reading the paper at lunch, and you just can't do that on a computer. Fewer comics in the print issue = less enjoyment for me.

Now I know the Chron lets you customize your own comics page, but as I said in a comment on this About:Chron post, I'd much prefer they provide an RSS feed for each strip, because that's something I can get to via Bloglines from whatever computer I happen to be using, which isn't the case for bookmarks. If they're gonna make me read some of my favorite comics online, the least they can do is let me read them in my preferred way.

A considerable amount of thought went into deciding which strips would be dropped and which would remain. Some of the comics ranked poorly in a recent survey of readers. Some were new comics that had not yet developed a following. Some of the older comics that were dropped were no longer being produced by the original author.

On the one hand, while they moved "Shoe" online, dinosaurs like "BC","Peanuts", and "Hagar the Horrible" are still being printed. On the other hand, inexplicably long-running page-cloggers like "Mary Worth" and "Gasoline Alley" are gone as well. It's a little odd when you think about it, since you figure the audience for those strips are the least likely to read comics online, but I'll take it as progress. It would have been nicer had they given some of those newer strips more of a chance, but on balance I think they made some decent decisions. Now if they give me my RSS feeds, I'll quit griping. For now, at least.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 11, 2007 to Society and cultcha

new weekly color comics suggests former underutilization of the color printing presses and that equipment is setting idle

Posted by: Charles Hixon on November 11, 2007 7:00 PM