Dying Is Easy; Comic Strips Are Hard

Dear The Huntsville Times,

You’ve no doubt heard by now that on October 3, the final strip of Cathy Guisewite’s comic “Cathy” will be published.

I would like to encourage you to make the most of the opportunity that this presents.

Looking at your daily edition comics page, one finds that there are 19 comics strip you publish (including the not-technically-a-strip single-panel Dennis The Menace).

The top strip on the page is Peanuts, which has been re-runs since the death of its creator, Charles Schulz. (Though, ironically, few if any of those re-runs have featured Rerun.)

Located near Peanuts on the page is For Better or For Worse, which has also been in re-runs since the retirement of its creator, Lynn Johnston.

Further, of the remaining 17 strips, I believe another six have continued beyond the death or retirement of their creators, with new writers rehashing the same jokes told over the last few decades — in the case of Blondie, the last eight decades, as of next month.

To your credit, it deserves mention that, I believe, three of the four comics The Times runs daily in locations other than the comics page are all fresh strips created by contemporary writers.

I encourage you to use the vacancy that Cathy creates to publish another deserving contemporary strip.

While living in Indianola, Miss., I had the opportunity to become friends with cartoonist Mark Pett, who actually published two syndicated cartoons, and to hear about the challenges faced by those trying to break in to the market. It’s unfortunate to me that so much current talent goes to waste in favor of cartoons written years ago.

Personally, I would endorse Jimmy Johnson’s Arlo & Janis, the best comic strip currently being written, but I’m not dead set on that.

I will say, however, if somehow this works out like Peanuts and FBOFW and ends up with Cathy re-runs continuing to take up space on the comics page, no offense, but I will cancel my subscription. I believe firmly in newspapers (the best e-reader out there), I believe firmly in subscribing to newspapers, and have encouraged fellow newspaper alums to continue subscribing to to their local papers even if they don’t read them just to support the industry. But if the industry is so moribund as to make a decision like that, it probably deserves to die. Just sayin’

Thank you for your consideration,


3 Responses

  1. Maybe you and Lain should take Hatbag daily and fill in the spot left by Cathy.

  2. You know, Jesse tried pitching HATBG to some syndicates back in the day, to no avail. And if the Jesse Holland couldn’t do it, what chance do we have?

  3. Aww, poor Cathy!

    Seriously though, it is a shame how much innovation print seems to lack. It isn’t like these papers couldn’t scour the entire internet and basically find anyone they wanted to fill that space.

    I say feature some of classics but don’t just make your comic page “Comics: A Look Back” because you’re not going to gain any new readers that way.

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