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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 10/14/2008

The Morning Line: The Surefire Solution to Surviving Comic Cutbacks

By Michael Cavna

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:)

Singin' the cicada blues. (KFS) Enlarge Comic

'Hammie's Bug Whammy Leaves Sibling Clammy,' Says Mammy
Once a Fly in the Ointment, Homopteran
Insect Now Sings a Different Tune

(Today's Lio:)

When Brothers Grimm meet the 'Cadbury' tales. (UPS) Enlarge Comic

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'

(Today's Candorville:)

We love the smell of pomade in the morning. (WPWG) Enlarge Comic

'The Pain of McCain Falls Mainly to My Silver Mane!'
Says CNN's Intrepid Alabaster Prince

The first of many jiltings for Jeffy. (KFS)Enlarge Comic

(Today's Family Circus:)

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.

By Michael Cavna  | October 14, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Clever morning blog. Thanks.

Posted by: f2 | October 14, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

But on to unfinished business from last week.... What should go in the Opus opening? And is it called an Onus?

Can't you fit two shrunken comics in the space of Opus? Just asking. I checked my Sunday line up and thought, maybe,....

Herman - a "classic" but, really, a classic

Adam @ Home Rudy Park - very funny, but you sort of need to know the characters

Real Life Adventures - wry humour

Loose Parts - more pumpernickel than Real Life Adventures

Ink Pen - I still don't know why I like this strip!

One Big Happy - I really grew to like this strip after the WaPo dropped it.

Overboard - again, you need to know who's who, especially which dog can talk and which is more doggish, and where did those mice come from and is that guy in the cabin really the cartoonist? It was more fun when it was just two groups of pirates and a dog, but, hey, it's not my strip.

How about getting rid of Dennis and Circus and fitting them all in?

Posted by: f2 | October 14, 2008 8:31 AM | Report abuse

"Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen"

I'm going to need a minute, I may even have to take a knee...

Posted by: JkR | October 14, 2008 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Lovely blog entry today!

For many years, I have subscribed to the Post primarily because of its comic pages. The overall content is very very good, but the comics bring me in the door. Even though I now read a lot of the content online, I still have a subscription. I appreciate what you guys produce and am willing to pay for it. I live a lot closer to Baltimore than to DC, but the Sun... its not worth the effort anymore. More white space and filler than real content, and the comics page is just a sad shadow of what used to be there.

Thanks for providing the content -- the comics! -- that I want.

Posted by: Kat | October 14, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

"Prints of Darkness"??? Who wrote the blog today - Frank or Ernest?

As for Lamont's question, "What in God's name is that crazy smell?", apparently he has trouble coping with this blog's punny vapors.

Posted by: Seismic-2 | October 14, 2008 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Exactly Seismic-2......this spoofs (mocks?) the punny headlines of almost any newspaper you pick a T!!

Posted by: to S-2 | October 14, 2008 4:46 PM | Report abuse

"The first of many jiltings for Billy. (KFS)"

Uh, isn't that... Jeffy?

Posted by: Dan | October 17, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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