The Post's 'Doonesbury' shrinkage: winning the Battle of Inch-On
For the good of cartooning, we'll take even small victories. And by small, we mean a mere 7 picas wide.
When The Post rolled out its print redesign this month, "Doonesbury" -- relocated to Style's Page-2 and untethered from the "Reliable Source" layout -- suddenly shrunk by more than a half-panel in width. As Comic Riffs noted here last week, the incredible shrinking strip had reached the visual tipping point for some readers: It was now too much of an eye-chart chore to read pleasurably, if at all.
Immediately I wondered about the long-fabled "No Shrinking 'Doonesbury' " rule, and some readers did, too. Didn't Garry Trudeau have some kinda Shrinkage Limit Clause to protect against this sorta thing?
So last week, Comic Riffs asked Post management about this. The reply: We're not likely to agree to such a condition, in this day and age.
So next I turned to Universal Press Syndicate, which distributes "Doonesbury." Top executive John Glynn told Comic Riffs: "Yes, we do ask that newspapers run Doonesbury at the largest size they possibly can. In relation to most other comics, Doonesbury relies heavily [and brilliantly] on language to get its points across."
Glynn continued: "A few years ago, we contractually required that the size was to be a minimum of 44 picas, but with the transition to smaller web widths, we realize that newspapers cannot always oblige and we've dropped that requirement."
So last week, "Doonesbury" was running in Style at about 34 picas -- well below the former requirement. This week, however, "Doonesbury" has been restored to its pre-redesign width of about 41 picas. And for that, Comic Riffs is pleased.
Cartooning, like baseball, can be a game of inches. We print readers will take every pica we can win back, in the name of America's other more-than-a-century-old pastime.
| October 28, 2009; 2:15 PM ET
Categories: The Comic Strip
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