The Morning Line: The Surefire Solution to Surviving Comic Cutbacks
The news grows more gruesome by the month: Many newspapers keep cutting back their funnypages, in some misguided hope that they aren't also losing hundreds or thousands of comics readers in the process. The whole thing smacks of killing one of the gold-egg-laying geese -- talk about casting (off) pearls before swine.
Many newspapers aspire to emulate the New York Times, but this diabolical trend is certainly not the way to do it. The great Grey Lady long ago decided to eschew the funnypages (lest it deign to dip a spit-polished spat into the inky mud that is comics). Oh, there's the occasional hip comic in the Times these days, but the funnies remain the industry's street urchin. (Speaking of pages: Apparently Ted Rall and myself are on the same one, at least when it comes to the necessity of COMICS--judging by this new cartoon.)
Should not the rest of journalism, however, be wiser about comics readership, if only out of extreme familiarity and greater need? Or do editors still believe what Walt "Pogo" Kelly's boss purportedly once uttered? Kelly asked whether a staff cartoonist was a journalist. His editor's rhetorical reply, after laughing heartily: "Is a barnacle a ship?!?"
Perhaps, though, there is a method to circumvent this madness. If many editors want to replace their comics with picture-less text, then text we shall give them. For a standard online newspaper fee (read: free), Comic Riffs will offer "Daily Comics Reduced to 'Snappy' Newspaper Headlines." Less frivolousness, but still tastes journalistically substantial -- and no skimping on all those satisfying gerunds. To wit:
(Today's Baby Blues:)
"INSECT-INSIDE"! WHEN IRONY LANDS ON A NO-PEST 'STRIP'
'Hammie's Bug Whammy Leaves Sibling Clammy,' Says Mammy
Once a Fly in the Ointment, Homopteran
Insect Now Sings a Different Tune
DEATH-BY-CHOCOLATE KINDLY STOPS FOR THEE
Cocoa-Pusher Escapes With Boy's Ever-Mortal
Molars; Authorities Dust for Prints of Darkness
Growls Mr. Reaper: 'Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen'
WHAT'S IN A 'NAM? WHY, ANCHOR 'MANDERSON' COOPER, OF COURSE
'The Pain of McCain Falls Mainly to My Silver Mane!'
Says CNN's Intrepid Alabaster Prince
(Today's Family Circus:)
AREA CUTLERY LEAPS TO DEATH IN BIZARRE LINOLEUM TRAGEDY
Utensil Ran Away to UN-Join the Circus;
Nut-Noggin'ed Tyke Held in Search for 'Cereal' Killer
There you have it, in a punchy, headline-happy form even a Sulzberger could publish: All the news that's fit to print -- without all the comics that, apparently, are not.
Somehow, we prefer the real thing.
| October 14, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: The Morning Line
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