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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 04/30/2009

Do Most Young People Still READ Print Comics?

By Michael Cavna

Morning, Cartoon Nation...

If you care about the state and fate of newspaper comics, then today, make sure to read "Candorville." And if you read The Post's print funnies and recently endured the loss of a page of comics, then I recommend you read it twice: Once to wince, once to laugh after you're done wincing. (Not necessarily in that order -- your reactions may vary.)

"CANDORVILLE" (WPWG) Enlarge Comic

Today, 'Riffs appreciates not only "Candorville's" continued "cartoon bailout" synergy with "Pearls Before Swine." but also the "ka-POW" point in the final panel. I'm comforted to see that some artists still believe comics have the power to draw young people to the hard-print newspaper. (As opposed to, say, Aaron McGruder's knowing book title of a few years back: "Because I Know You Don't Read the Newspaper.")

So that prompts today's official Reader Question: Do you believe the print comics still draw a significant number of young readers to the newspaper?

And while we're appreciating today's "Candorville": Unspooling this time-travel through Dr. Manhattan's questing is a swell touch. Thankfully (mindful of all those young readers, no doubt), too. Doc Manhattan remembers to wear his britches in that final frame. Unlike, say, Dennis the Menace in Tuesday's "Candorville."

Speaking of -- "Candorville" cartoonist DARRIN BELL tells Comic Riffs about that Pantless Scamp Synergy: "Pearls" creator Stephan Pastis "sent me his Dennis strip and while I didn't ask him, I naturally assumed Dennis wasn't wearing underwear. He's going for pity here, and for the average male, nothing generates pity like the full Monty."

Bell, by the way, did not offer whether Dr. Manhattan qualifies as "an average male."

By Michael Cavna  | April 30, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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Interesting to note Mr. Pulitzer's St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently dropped the print edition of Candorville. I now read it online.

Posted by: rcfonz1 | April 30, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Did you notice today's Peanuts? Someone in the Peanuts rerun group must think there are only 29 days in April.

Posted by: oldgal49er | April 30, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse

As a "young person" (fresh out of college), I have to say that much as I love my webcomics, there is still nothing like coming home from work and curling up with the comics page, much as I did through all of grade school. The problem on college campuses is generally reduced access to print newspapers outside the NY Times and the campus publication--but hey, that's what breaks are for.

Posted by: museum_lady | April 30, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

My 11-year-old daughter reads the comics and the kids post.

Posted by: Mrhode | April 30, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

I am enjoying seeing my 8 year old repeating (my ) history by using the comics as a gateway to enjoying the rest of the paper.

Speaking of, why didn't the Post move Garfield and Peanuts to the kid page-- wasn't there just something somewhere about how they are the audience for those?

Posted by: bethesda6 | April 30, 2009 9:55 AM | Report abuse

I read the print newspaper for the comics. I read the comics to my kids. I read the other news, but the real reason is the style section and the comics. I do appreciate comic riffs too, the blog is so fun.

Posted by: jenandchris | April 30, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Note that WaPo has moved "Agnes" to Kid's Post, because they think it (as opposed to all the legacy strips, that are retained on the main comics pages) is basically kiddy fodder. Well, no one ever accused the Post's editors of actually **reading** any of the comics that they publish, of course, so what do you expect.

Anyway, I fear that comics reading, being a part of newspaper reading in general, is an activity that appeals primarily to an audience that is growing increasingly "grayer". So what does WaPo do? Shrink the strips so that only young, sharp eyes can enjoy the art and read the dialog. Why does my newspaper hate me so?

Posted by: seismic-2 | April 30, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Bethesda6 is quite right - Garfield or Peanuts would be better on Kids Post.

Frazz is also a strip for grownups - apparently the comics editor looks at them and says, "hey it has a kid in it - must be for kids." Sigh.

Posted by: Mrhode | April 30, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

My kids read the comics (learned it from me, of course). Mutts, Pearls (for the Crocs), and Foxtrot are their favorites.

Posted by: tws1372 | April 30, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

As the father of 10th and 8th grade children, they both never read the comics in the newspaper, and I'm not sure if any of their friends did. The only time I think they saw the comics was when I pointed a particular one out to them.

Posted by: Dougmacintyre | April 30, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

And do kids read comic books any more either, or has this become primarily a hobby of adults? It is interesting that "Candorville" uses Dr. Manhattan as the narrator of today's strip, since in the 2 showings I saw of "Watchmen", the audience was overwhelmingly middle- and (post-middle) aged. Are kids getting into comics reading at all, or was that hobby supplanted by the invention of video games?

Posted by: seismic-2 | April 30, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

My 11 year old son reads the comics. the problem is that he puts the paper down afterwards and says that they aren't funny. So it has to be a two pronged attack- include comics but make them funny- stop these legacy strips that haven't been funny in years.

Posted by: Socalwhite | April 30, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Late on the discussion, but my 11yo has labelled a bin for the style section so he can make sure he sees the comics before they go in the recycle bin. I pass them to him after I read them. And it takes less time now. No lingering over pictures I can barely see and fewer words. I can use the extra time to mourn the lost strips. Judge Parker, bah!

Posted by: filfeit | May 1, 2009 7:50 AM | Report abuse

I can only speak for the young people in my house. My son does not read any newspaper - he is visually impaired and the fine print in newspaper comics has always been too small for him. However, he was a Garfield junkie when he was little, so I expect he would have read the comics if he could. Daughter is 17, reads the comics every day, and while looking for them over the years has learned that there are articles in the paper that actually interest her. If there are still newspapers when she is an adult with a settled home, she will most likely be a subscriber.

Posted by: marshlc | May 1, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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