In grudgingly taking up such questions, editors and publishers face a choice that has long been agonizing for papers that dared to replace longtime favorites. By cutting strips like “Brenda Starr” and “Judge Parker,” as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did this year as part of a comics shuffling, editors run the risk of alienating older readers, who are their core constituency. (Indeed, after a write-in campaign, The Journal-Constitution decided to give “Judge Parker” a reprieve.)
But if editors instead choose to cut newer strips like “La Cucaracha,” or fail to make room for more cuttingedge work, they realize they may be bobbling a prime opportunity to lure the younger people who are critical to newspapers’ future — and whose love for animated entertainment has been demonstrated by the television programs (including “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill”) and movies (“Finding Nemo”) that they watch and the books (graphic novels) that they read.
[…] Lalo Alcaraz, an editorial cartoonist for the alternative newspaper LA Weekly, who has been drawing “La Cucaracha” for nearly two years, was more blunt about the generational scrimmage for space on the comics page.
“If only science had not found a way to revive dead cartoonists and keep them alive, that would be helpful to me and a lot of guys coming up,” he said in a veiled swipe at, among others, “Peanuts,” which remains in syndicated reruns more than four years after the death of its creator, Charles M. Schulz.
Deliberations within newspapers about whether to cut comics, and if so how many and which, are set against a bleak economic backdrop. Not only have newspapers in general not partaken of the advertising rebound some other media, like television, have enjoyed, but publishers also are grappling with the unforeseen costs of covering a war in a year that also has the Olympics and a national election. Meanwhile, ominously, newsprint prices have risen steadily, jumping 10 percent in the last year, with another similar increase expected.
And don’t miss this related story: SDCC – Part Four [via BoingBoing] – a story of a comic strip writer who’s eschewing syndication licensing in exchange for exposure — free comics to build demand for the related products; books, etc.