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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 03/30/2009

Meet the New Funnies: Do You Fancy Their Latest Trendy Cut?

By Michael Cavna

Morning, Cartoon Nation...

No doubt, if you read The Post's print funnies, you have some sort of reaction to today's new look. Sure, we've got four fewer strips total...on one less two less picas. But perhaps more jarring, the lineup is rearranged. Yep, The Post has shuffled the deck.

If you're anything like me as a reader, you've got a flow, a rhythm to how you read your comics -- you come to personalize your own order. Now, like stepping into a brand-new neighborhood market, you've got some serious searching to do.

So what do you think of the look? If you've got a reaction you'd like to share, feel free to fire away in the Comments field.

And if you missed it: I recommend the weekend's column by The Post's new ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, who discusses reasons behind today's print changes -- including the comic readership surveys conducted by an outside firm.



So now the formula's become transparent: Whenever "Mark Trail" needs to ratchet up the action, it does the simplest thing possible -- the strip comes to blows.

Some weeks back, of course, we endured the alarmingly tolerated domestic abuse as Ken slapped his wife over her soul-quenching love for a pet deer. Now, Central Casting Nimrod Villain slaps Rusty and His Magically Reappearing Right Arm.

Given this turn of events, it's looking as though Nimrod Villain might end up gored by the Long Lens of a Rogue Nikon, only to ultimately make peace with Rusty while convalescing at Lost Forest General for Lost Souls.

Oh, where are you, Judge Parker?



Gotta love the toss-out pun "Keeping up with the Jovians." Played just right. Bravo, Mr. Rickard.


Were there only one pun here, this might just be like "Frank and Ernest" on a way-better-than-average day. But the one-two wordplay is rather admirable. My groan reflex stifled, I suddenly laughed. Twice.

REMINDER: For cartoon updates, you can go to

By Michael Cavna  | March 30, 2009; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Next: 'Black Ink Day': Time for Another Call to Arms


Where's Judge Parker? It was supposed to be moved online but I can't find it among the list of comics online.

Posted by: DevilsCapsGal | March 30, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Again, I think this change stinks. 3 pages to 2. And, especially the removal of Judge Parker.

1. Outside firm of research? Is that they are hiding behind? Why no poll in the paper or online? And, I suppose Comic Riffs polling means squat?

2. How can this research say Mark Trail or Spiderman is better than Judge Parker? No way. What people took this survey? Not people that read comics?

3. So, the real reason is revealed. It's the cost of the newsprint. Yet, if the Post was still selling ads, because it had more readers, I guarantee you there would be more pages of paper. THEN QUIT CUTTING CONTENT, DUMMIES. WHAT BUSINESS CUTS IT'S WAY TOO SUCCESS? NONE!!!!!

And just so you know, Mr. Cavna, Judge Parker's is not online. It links to a comic from February 1, 2009. So, dubya tee eff? I guess the Post doesn't want me to even follow Judge Parker at it's website.

Double insult.

Posted by: Jam893 | March 30, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Another unhappy subscriber. Yes, where is Judge Parker? Not online! And the reduced size of the strips is hard for older eyes.

Posted by: Goddess5 | March 30, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Judge Parker makes you pay to read it online. It's not THAT good, so I have declined to pay.

Good news about online comics - a lot are in color, and larger!

Posted by: Maddocks | March 30, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

Gah. I understand the economic necessity of shrinking the paper, but it doesn't feel like the Post anymore - doesn't take as long to read either. Judge Parker isn't the only missing comic - Pooch Cafe is also unlisted. Were I King of the Post, I'd've dropped Agnes and the repeats of Peanuts instead of Piranha Club and Zippy.

Posted by: loncray | March 30, 2009 9:18 AM | Report abuse

How can you save Mark Trail (daily version?, Prickly City (pleeeeease!) and get rid of Pirahna Club and Judge Parker? This is very very very disappointing? Who did the analysis? They didn't call me for an opinion but should have.

Posted by: terryscorpio | March 30, 2009 9:19 AM | Report abuse

>> Some commenters say they see an old Judge Parker online. When I check the Post directory, I'm now not seeing the Judge at ALL. We're talking serious JP withdrawals here, people.

I'm alerting the (Web) authorities.


Posted by: cavnam | March 30, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse


Once again, the Post didn't have it's ducks in row. Your Comics Editor conveniently goes on vacation without figuring it out. Bad.

Why don't they just bring Judge Parker back to the paper, since I think Mark Trail is there already.

Posted by: Jam893 | March 30, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

At least Pooch Cafe is still in the Express. Could not care less about the rest, especially Judge Parker. If only Mark Trail had joined the unmissed Judge. The most serious problem is the font size. People young enough to easily read the strips are more likely to use than subscribe to the paper edition.

I do miss the Sticklers. At least the font for Soduko didn't shrink. The entire Monday edition reminded me of my small hometown paper. Not a healthy sign.

Posted by: ArlingtonGay | March 30, 2009 9:34 AM | Report abuse

I, too, cannot find the Judge Parker comic strip for today, 3/30, on, as the A1 of today's Post in print asserts its existence. If you click on WEB comics you get month-old Judge Parkers. Help !!!

Posted by: Richard221 | March 30, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Add me to the list complaining about not being able to find Judge Parker up to date online. So essentially the Post lied to us about this one. (What else are they lying about? Was Watergate all a big hoax?)
There should at least be a quick link to the dropped comics,especially for those of us still paying for home delivery. Given the tiny size of what is still in the paper, I'm not sure how much longer I'll bother with the print edition. It's getting to painful.
Please consider bringing the comics back to full size and if necessary drop a few losers like Prickly City, Baldo, Curtis, ... and bring back Zippy and Judge Parker.

Posted by: blankspace | March 30, 2009 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I hadn't seen the warnings, so I felt the earth move away from me this morning when I turned to the comics page. A point of local pride for years, the three pages of comics are crushed into a crowded, reduced format,our friends Zippy and Judge Parker (the two best drawn strips) have been banished,and we have to find a new route to avoid the painfully tired Peanuts, Beatle Bailey and their ilk. Of course, we hate it. Hate it. And we're having a bad morning as a result.

Posted by: PJ123 | March 30, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

fr blankspace:

>...Please consider bringing the comics back to full size and if necessary drop a few losers like Prickly City, Baldo, Curtis, ... and bring back Zippy and Judge Parker.<

Actually, zippy IS a loser strip, always has been. Drop it permanently, and keep Prickly City AND Peanuts!

Posted by: Alex511 | March 30, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

What a bunch of lame-ohs at the Post. They tell you two weeks in advance of the changes and that the comics they are cutting would be at the website, and the day it happens. At least two, maybe three of them are not. Nice.

Judge Parker links to the syndicates generic site, with a strip from February. And, I had to look around to find the link (it's under "Web Comics").

I think this clearly points out that the Comics Editor doesn't read, not care about the comics. And, to say this was based in "research". She doesn't seem to even read the comics, if she wants to keep Mark Trail, Frank & Ernest's stale jokes or re-runs of Peanuts in the paper. Or how about Dennis the Menace, Agnes or Spiderman.

Bring back Judge Parker.

Posted by: robbinsondave | March 30, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

The new comics pages format was a dramatic fall in quality. The smaller sizes were quite disappointing.

Judge Parker appears on the "web comics" tab of the comic types, but for free it is just a week at the beginning of February. I presume they will do something about it? Or they could direct people to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website which does have the recent strips.

Posted by: nottenst | March 30, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Leading off all of the comics with Garfield??? What in the world were they thinking. Now I don't miss the strips that were cut nearly as much as the smaller size and the terrible new layout. It looks like they slapped everything together with no care or thought. Two thumbs down all around.

Posted by: agefen | March 30, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe anybody's complaining about "Judge Parker". I also can't believe "Mark Trail" lives, and "Piranha Club" is gone . . .

The reduced size comics are dreadful BECAUSE of the reduced size.

You know, when you're having trouble selling a product, making it crappier and charging more is rarely a solution . . .

Posted by: mdean3 | March 30, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Wow, we are sitting Shiva at home over the loss of the Judge, and the strange new layout. But nothing like the gnashing of teeth here.

The Judge has been in glorious color on the Seattle PI site for a long time. A little clever Googling will get you there. But the link has been posted here several times, including above.

But, for now, back to rending garments...

Posted by: JkR- | March 30, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse


I am complaining about the removal of Judge Parker. Thank you very much.

I do agree, Mark Trail stays over Judge Parker?? Dumb.

And, there is still no link on the WaPo's website to Judge Parker that shows todays comic. Lame.

Posted by: robbinsondave | March 30, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I just have to wonder about this "outside firm" and their survey. Did they pick names at random from the Post's subscribers list? And was the first question something like, "Do you and/or your children read any of the comics in the Post?" And did the typical respondent think, "Umm... yeah, I used to read Blondie, Beetle Bailey, and Peanuts when I was growing up, and last month I think I saw a Family Circus panel, so yeah, I qualify!" Well, it's nice to know how the Post makes its editorial decisions on what features to run and to drop! (It also goes a long way towards explaining why all the ancient and tired "legacy" strips continue to run, while the newer ones such as "Pooch Cafe" and the edgier ones such as "Zippy" are dropped.) Relying on a survey that the Post farms out to a contractor surely beats making decisions based on actually **reading** the comics strips, an odious task that apparently the Post editorship avoids at all costs. You would think, though, that they would have considered at least some input from those people who actually use the quality of the comics pages as an important factor in deciding whether to remain subscribers. (Us, for instance.) I doubt that many of the people surveyed by this outside firm actually care all that strongly, one way or the other.

Posted by: seismic-2 | March 30, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Where is Judge Parker? It is not online as you said it would be.

Posted by: toseneek513 | March 30, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse


The Comics Editor has to read the comics?

Nah. Too hard. Let's look at some survey data, from participants who really couldn't wait to get off the phone.

Posted by: robbinsondave | March 30, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

The survey was of Washington area subscribers. I'm an out of area subscriber, so I wasn't surveyed. Here's my partial list of comics that should have been dropped:
...Beetle Bailey
...Family Circus
...Dennis the Menace
...Mark Trail
...Frank & Ernest

I could see Judge Parker online, but not Pooch Cafe.

And the FONT SIZE! Oh, the font size! There were some smudges in the newsprint which ordinarily wouldn't have been a problem, but with the font size so tiny, even with reading glasses it was difficult to read.

I do not like this. I do not like this at all. The comics are becoming as pitiful as my local paper's comics. Old, dull, & stupid.

Posted by: mat00 | March 30, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Forgot to add: get rid of the horoscope - no one needs that.

Posted by: mat00 | March 30, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Each comic added causes a drop in the ones I read. Bring back Judge Parker and compensate by firing the outside researchers.

Posted by: LesterShubin | March 30, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Essentially, it seems like the Post is digging in to hold on to older longtime readers, and giving up on attracting new ones.

Posted by: tomtildrum | March 30, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

During the chat by the managing editors, jumped in to announce, "For those looking for the Judge Parker comic strip - the most recent strip is now available online here and at" with links to the Post's Judge Parker page now showing the current strip. I guess it took several dozen people pointing out that their website didn't have what they said it did to get them to make the correction.

Posted by: greggwiggins | March 30, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I just finished loking at today's paper. My comment, in one word: Sucks.

Other words come to mind: Lame, Dumb, Ugly, Pointless, Futile, Stunted, Disappointing, Empty.

Posted by: drewdane | March 30, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

>> Re surveys and The Post's decision-making about the changes:
I recommend also checking out the online chat comments from the managing editors at


Posted by: cavnam | March 30, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Why do we still have Mark Trail, Dennis the Menace, Spider-Man, Family Circus, etc etc and you have moved Pooch Cafe and Little Lost Dog, both of which have original and NEW content. Seriously, you keep the sh!tty comics mentioned above that haven't had an original thought in years and move several good , original comics to the online section. I hate reading my comics online, they belong in print. WaPo, you don't gain readership by cutting content and worsening the stuff you already have. Bring back the other comics and but the repeating comics online.

Posted by: buckeye96 | March 30, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@seismic-2: I think their private survey must have consisted of calling up the local nursing home and asking the residents what they read.

Just to cover the bases, I imagine they followed up by hanging out at local elementary schools and asking the under-10 set for their opinions.

Posted by: drewdane | March 30, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

It's afternoon and I'm still afraid to open my paper. I understand the reasons but I want my Zippy and Little Dog Lost and not Agnes & Family Circus. Where is Little Dog Lost, anyway? I can't find it on the site.

Posted by: MrsMoose | March 30, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

A couple of people have said they don't like Agnes, but, to borrow a phrase from the Losties @ Celebritology, that strip moves my island.

At the least, WaPo could put all the "living" strips on one page and isolate the dead writers' strips together.

Posted by: mat00 | March 30, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Shame on you for dropping Judge Parker, the best-drawn comic on the page. (Dittos for Rex Morgan, also high on the art-quality scale.)

Meanwhile, newsprint is devoted to girls basketball, European soccer, and runway fashion show commentary.

Sheesh, I hope Stanley Kaplan at least is breaking even....

Posted by: JMosesBrowning | March 30, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Why keep Mark Trail? Inane, transparent plots start and end with a right to the jaw. They make my stomach hurt. Lio is sadistic kid who loves monsters, anti child. Garfield is a sadistic cat.

The smaller font is hard to read.

I miss Zippy, who once asked "are we having fun yet?

Too bad. The comics used to be fun.

Posted by: dberkenbilt | March 30, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Maybe part of the logic is that with the smaller sized comics, they best drawn art needs to go first since it won't reproduce as well.

As far as the comment about girls basketball - Maryland is trying to compete for a national championship. That is definitely news that should be spread.

Posted by: nottenst | March 30, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Zippy is controversial, Zippy was controversial, Zippy will always be controversial. People either hate the strip or love it.

I love it. I want it back on the print pages so I can cut it out and send it to my sister and brother-in-law, as I have been doing for years!

Posted by: pheisey | March 30, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

What a disaster. I have found round after round of changes to the paper (and especially the comics section) to be disconcerting. This latest set of cuts and the miniature format to the comics, not to mention the loss of Business, may be the last straw for me. The Washington Post is quickly becoming just another mediocre paper. Why keep paying for a subscription (the cost of which was just increased by more than 10%)?

Posted by: jcohn | March 30, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

(maybe if I keep repeating this, someone at the WaPo will listen and do something, instead of hiding behind their "accurate" research)

Posted by: erinaustindj | March 30, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Yep. Have to say this is the first time I have considered cancelling this paper after being a subscriber for 9 years.

Posted by: buckeye96 | March 30, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

buckeye96, I have to say that for the first time I'm considering canceling my Post subscription after being a subscriber for nearly 30 years. Not just the comics; this death of 1000 cuts make it less and less worth the cost.

Posted by: greggwiggins | March 30, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I was disappointed not to find a Stickeler in this morning's Washington Post. IBM and ExxonMobil have ads extolling the practical value of math. But what people seem to miss is that a mathy mind simply helps you think better and have more fun doing it. What they really miss is that everyone can have a degree of mathiness. I daresay any high school graduate who isn't intrigued by a Stickeler has been educationally short-changed. Keep up the good work. __Jack Fretwell

Posted by: capjax | March 30, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

Sobering to read thru the complaints: you really should have had the wit to call for a readers' poll. Then, we all would have felt as if we particiapted. You have obviously never worked for a politician or for the government. I also can't believe you let one of the best drawn --and most unusual --strips, Zippy the Pinhead go. And will you be sending out magnifying glasses to us aging "Funnies Fans"? Truly, a bad day for the Comix.

Posted by: arnaudo | March 30, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I want to re-state...

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

I want Judge Parker back in the comics

Posted by: erinaustindj | March 30, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

>> cavnam

I read with interest the transcript that you referenced, showing the online chat that the two WaPo Managing Editors conducted today. Predictably, their response to the question about the comics was that the poll of the readers conducted by the outside firm showed that these strips were the least popular, so they were dropped. Now, in this blog we have been treated to many fascinating interviews with figures from the world of comics, so might it be at all possible for us also to be treated to an interview with members of the Post's editorial staff? I would like to see how they justify using this poll (of randomly selected names?) to decide which strips to drop. One would think that a random poll of readers, most of whom don't really care about the comics, would result in the Post's selecting to drop those strips that appeal the least to precisely the audience to which the comics in general appeal the least. Shouldn't the decision be exactly the opposite, namely to **retain** those strips that appeal most strongly to the audience that cares about comics the **most** (i.e., us)? I would also like to see the editors' answers to a question about just how many members of the editorial staff read the comics pages, how thoroughly, and how often. OK, the answer to that one is obvious, but it would still be nice to see just how little the Powers That Be actually care about the section of the paper that matters so much to so many of us.

Posted by: seismic-2 | March 30, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse


Never going to happen, I predict. The managing editors from the Post never really answered specifically about any comics, just the ones they cut were the "lowest". Why can't the Comics Editor come on and do a chat?

Posted by: erinaustindj | March 30, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Count me with all those disappointed on the reduced size of the comics. I did not see a note about it in the paper. Did they think we would not notice or care? Did the survey firm think it was a good idea?

I am unlikely to give up my 16 year post habit anytime soon but as content disappears I start to think about it.

Posted by: JonathanC | March 30, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Guess I'll chime in with the rest...

Judge Parker is now accessed through a Syndicate site which is out of sync with the Post's daily. Pooch Cafe is missing altogether.

And, perhaps worst, the smaller printed size is horrible for us old(er) guys who still prefer the print edition!

Add that to failing copy editing, a cluttered and confusing website... So far the Post is doing a great job putting itself out of business...

Posted by: Dontneednosteenkingid | March 30, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

What some of us fail to see is that with this economy, or lack thereof, has forced businesses to make drasic and unconfortable changes. Reduction of both size and amount of material, including comics, had to be done to keep cost down.
I'm a little disappointed that the Post did not forewarned us of these changes. In the past, when other changes were made, I felt that they kept readers abreast on the process.
We like the comics because they make us feel; either happy or excited or some other emotions. That is why it is hard for us to take such a necessary loss.
The one who decided this lessening have calculated that those who will canel their subscriptions because of this would be too small to offset the reduced cost. I wonder how well they included the human factor?

Posted by: joethacker | March 30, 2009 9:30 PM | Report abuse

I will re-post what I said earlier...


Answer = NONE!!!!!

They should've ADDED more comics, not cut them.

But, no, ...(music of importance)...the Washington Post is a great journalist lady, of mighty journalistic integrity and the comics, pffff, we broke the Watergate story, comics are not the reason why people read us, we can cut them, and people will continue to read the great lady called the Washington Post.

Exageration, perhaps, but the bottomline, the comics are a diversion and are of great importance to a paper (except the New York Times).

I just happen to think the cut the wrong ones. Like Judge Parker.

Posted by: Jam893 | March 30, 2009 10:32 PM | Report abuse

First off - you dropped Judge Parker! I can't believe the Post would stoop so low. And Pooch Cafe? So, where was this readers' poll that's supposed to be behind the comic lineup changes? If my vote could count retrospectively, I'd choose to drop Tank McNamara and 'classic' Peanuts. Or Mark Trail (really dumb script), Brewster Rockit (just plain dumb), or Watch Your Head (never funny/never makes a point). Please BRING BACK THE JUDGE and THE POOCH.

Posted by: ericjames1 | March 30, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

I found THE JUDGE, finally. But prefered my fix in WaPo print. Here's the link:

Posted by: ericjames1 | March 30, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

I want Judge Parker in the print version of the Post.

Since this research was conducted by the Woodward and Bernstein it seems, in the dark of night, why not put it to a survivor type poll? Both online, in the paper and via the phone if you wish.

I bet the Judge beats Mark, Frank, Ernest, Agnes, Brewster, Peter, Parker, etc. You get the idea. Even a battle between Judge Parker, Mark Trail and Spiderman, with two of them getting a spot on the comics pages would be fairer than what the Post just did.

Posted by: alevine76 | March 31, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

My wife and I find it noticeably more difficult to read the pages of the Style section where you have apparently reduced the font sizes of the text items as well as the sizes of the comics. Those of us needing bifocals are now apparently not in the target population for your comics and the other items on those pages. What’s next? A section using a font size of 6 or less requiring a magnifying glass to read? I notice that the ad fonts in other sections are still quite readable…

Posted by: hnjchild | March 31, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

The fact is, the bean counters have it all wrong. Counting the few who cancel their subscription in protest is not the way to figure the impact of comics. Try the other way -- ENLARGE the comics -- bring in new blood, with new, exciting features (there is a ton of local talent at the various art schools and universities in the area) and run them prominently, and watch circulation go UP!

In the early circulation wars between Hearst and Pulitzer in the 1890s and 1900s, comics were an important way of bringing in readers, and other newspapers had to follow suit to keep up.

In fact, while a larger percentage of people may be functionally literate than back then, today's young people don't bother with newspapers at all -- but they still are attracted to a growing number of Graphic Novels, Manga, and independent comic books. Check out the crowds that swell the Small Press Expo in Bethesda every year. These people are not attracted to the tiny little comics, many of them featuring characters that have been around for fifty years or more. How many dead artists' names are attached to strips run in the Post?

I remember back when the typographers' strike forced the Post to run a short edition for a few days, and the comics were all crammed on a page so small they couldn't be read. Looks like that's the wave of the future, as newspapers spiral into self-inflicted suicide.

Make the comics page EXCITING and watch circulation build as new customers buy the Post. Make it boring, just to hang on to the readers you have, and watch them drop off.

-=-Ron Evry-=-
DC Chapter Chairman
National Cartoonists Society

Posted by: revry | March 31, 2009 11:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree with Ron. To be honest with you when I first moved here I decided what paper to get based on the comics page, which is the most important to me. The comics are my 5-10 minute respite at work. I know whatever happens at work or outside in the real world that I had 3 pages of great comics to read. It is what I looked forward to everyday. I don't want to spend 10 seconds for each comic strip to load, that WaPo has deemed not worthy for the print edition. I would love to hear what the editors have to say about carrying the dead comics. Really? Spider-Man reset again and yet is still published. Come on.

I think Ron has a great idea about carrying local strips from local artists. Or is the WaPo just becoming a scraper of the AP and Reuters so they can't have any original content.

Posted by: buckeye96 | April 1, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse


I think it was stated earlier in this comment section. You cannot cut your way to success.

100% agree that they should've expanded the comics, not cut them. Short-sighted. And, the Post did have the best comics section. Now, not so much. They can start by returning Judge Parker back to the comics.

By the way, buckeye96...


Posted by: RobM1013 | April 1, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

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