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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 12/10/2008

The Morning Line: The Newspaper Is Ready for Its Closeup

By Michael Cavna

Whenever I see a newspaper making a cameo within the funnies of my actual print newspaper, there seems to be a reflective quaintness about it all: An inky character who still values getting some of his news by reading inky characters.

That, and the fact that newspapers -- like film-noir smokes and old-school "Calvin & Hobbes" TV sets -- make for great visual props.

As such, it is affirming when newspapers pop up in the comics -- and not only because a goodly part of my paycheck still depends on the sales of the print product. A cartoon character reading a pape is like the made-it-big actor or athlete who remembers his roots, paying homage to that which birthed him.

Thankfully, today's toons are populated with characters who haven't forgotten where they came from. Last month, 'Riffs joked about the subliminal power of these visuals and called on cartoonists to draw more newspapers in their strips. 'Riffs even named the juice-the-sales mission: "Operation Newsprint: Higher Circulation Through Subliminal Suggestion."

Today, I can only smile.

First off, I cast my eyes on that stylish photo-realistic newspaper in "Sherman's Lagoon." My favorite sea turtle is reading "The Lagoon Tribune."

Which prompts two immediate questions:

(1) Will this "Tribune" be affected by The Tribune Co. filing for bankruptcy this week?

(2) And if regular ol' newsprint is pricey, just how crazy-expensive is this cool waterproof-newsprint?

Elsewhere, we've got "Lio" reading the Gasoline Alley headline.

The coolest thing about this? The paper is The Kessel Run. I -- and perhaps Ted Forth -- am reminded of the "Star Wars" reference in which Han Solo says that his ship "made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs."
Well-played, Mr. Tatulli.

Throwing a big, fat monkey wrench into our grand plans, though, is "Pearls Before Swine."

There, Zeeba says: "Perhaps I'll skip the paper."

D'oh. In one panel, the spell is broken.

By Michael Cavna  | December 10, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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