Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

February 8, 2013

Go, Read: Duluth News-Tribune On Canceling Blondie

imageSo apparently the Duluth News-Tribune got tired of having their fee to run Blondie raised year after year and finally replaced it with another strip, Pearls Before Swine. I don't know why that's a story, really; that sort of makes perfect sense to me. King Features is going to try to get as much money as they can from popular strips like Blondie, and that an occasional paper pushes back means they're probably right at that tension point of maximum profitability from the venerable feature.

What usually happens when a story like this appears is there's a lot of discussion about how horrible the newspaper strips are generally, and how these legacy strips are choking the life from those pages, and how there are so many better strips out there -- or could be -- that should replace a lot of those features. I'm not sure that those arguments aren't outdated a bit right now, in that the audience for print as it currently exists seems to me a more natural-than-ever audience for Blondie. I think it's also harder than people believe to do comic strips because of the nature of the format and the super broad, small-c conservative audience they have. Back in the '90s people used to always yell at me that, for example, Garfield was horrible and that it should be replaced by Maakies. I love Maakies more than some of the people with whom I grew up, but the thought of it being in the Columbus Dispatch or whatever instead of something more general-audience amenable seems to me like saying that Wallander should be shoved as is into the NCIS time slot. It's an odd business, comic strip syndication, and maybe one with a countdown clock now, but the fact that it's difficult to conjecturally reform it even when you're allowed to counter-program with strips that don't even exist in some cases, that could be a sign that it's a business that has some inner logic to it that we don't always respect.
posted 5:30 pm PST | Permalink

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