Category:Newspaper Comics

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Before the Internet and Web Comics, the only place to find daily, serialized comic strips was (and for many people, still is) the back page of your local mainstream or alternative newspaper.

Comic strips can cover a wide range of formats, topics, characters and artistic styles. The Far Side and The Family Circus are one-panel gag strips. Bloom County and Pogo, while light-hearted on the surface, were thick with Story Arcs and political commentary. Other strips, like Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes, delightfully portray the experiences of childhood, and thus have broad, long-term appeal. There have been countless serialized adventure strips like The Phantom, Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant and Dick Tracy; soap opera/slice-of-life strips like Gasoline Alley and Rex Morgan M.D., and strips that fall in between, like Little Orphan Annie.

Compared to other media, newspaper comics can have incredibly long tenures. New Peanuts strips appeared daily for over 49 years. Doonesbury has been running for 40 years and Garfield has been coming out for over 30 years. Neither show any signs of stopping. Even more impressively, Blondie has run for well over 75 years, Gasoline Alley has run over 90 years, and most impressively of all The Katzenjammer Kids has been running since 1897! A 10-year run is considered tremendous for a television show, but when Calvin and Hobbes, The Far Side and Bloom County each ended production after a decade, it seemed far too soon.

On the flip side, one of the reasons why Web Comics are 5–10 years ahead of Web-based indie music distribution (and 15–20 years ahead of non-corporate Web movies) is that "making it big" in sequential art has been traditionally defined as "being able to support a middle-class lifestyle without a day job". Only about 10 people in the whole 20th century got seriously stinking rich drawing Newspaper Comics, and of those only two or three achieved actual stardom.

The downside is that many newspaper comics have a reputation for not being funny anymore and the Long Runners often derisively described as "zombie strips". This is because, as far as a newspaper is concerned, comic strips are just advertising: they're there to lure in readers and make them more willing to fork over some subscription money. They're Fan Service, basically. And the last thing you want to do with fanservice is serve up something that doesn't actually please the fans. As such, Darker and Edgier humor, political- and/or current-events-based humor must be handled carefully, lest they cost the newspaper (or the artist!) more subscriptions than they gain. Even worse, newspaper strips are written anywhere from six weeks to ten months in advance of print date, which doesn't help topical humor. Newspapers have also been cutting down on the amount of space that comic strip artists are given in which to practice their visual, art-based medium, resulting in Bowdlerized art and abbreviated storytelling.[1] And the newspaper itself has become a victim of the Information Age; not only can consumers get the news online, they can get comics online too. So newspapers have to play it safe, and they do so by angling for broad, non-offensive humor with a wide appeal, often by recycling tired jokes and premises that sitcoms put to pasture years ago.

Successful newspaper comics usually find their way into other media, but are most fondly remembered as simple pen-and-ink drawings on cheap newsprint.

Sometimes you'll hear the term "Underground Comix"; in the USA, at least, this term refers to pen-and-ink comics not distributed by a syndicate and normally published in "alternative" papers, 'zines, etc. Web Comics and the consolidation of the supposedly "Alternative" newsweekly industry have put a dint in their circulation, but Cerebus and American Elf among others started out this way, and the latter still appears in alternative weeklies, or at least the one in the author's hometown.

Also, these have a very high chance of Breaking the Fourth Wall, but only when they do a very common "look at the reader at some other person's comedy or comedy failure".

  1. As Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes fame said of the space restrictions way back in 1989: "A beautiful strip like Pogo would be impossible to read at today's sizes." Of course it only got worse, and ultimately this was one of the factors that led to Watterson's decision to stop doing the strip. Along with a lot of the other stuff mentioned here.

Pages in category "Newspaper Comics"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 293 total.

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