If you’d told me when I was 14 that one day I would have a job where someone would come and try to sell me comic strips, I would have been pretty thrilled.
Well, I actually have that job!
So now I fret about it.
a) Comics cost money. They’re actually a fairly significant expense for a newspaper — worth it if they’re a part of what readers like, but an expense nonetheless. And some are more expensive than others. Furthermore, comics syndicates tend to increase the prices annually. Newspapers try to resist because we don’t want to pass on more costs to readers. Anyway, there’s an economic factor that you might not realize as you chuckle (or groan) at a comics page.
b) Newspapers like to encourage people to develop a comics reading habit. That’s a good thing for newspapers and for those who enjoy the comics. But there’s a dark side! If you’ve encouraged your readers to develop a habit, you can be afraid to change. Some strips hang on too long — even past their creators — because it’s hard to know if you’re going to make the readers angry by switching a comic they like for a new one.
That said, we have made changes on the Charleston Daily Mail’s comics pages the past couple of years. Two years ago, we swapped out “For Better or Worse,” which was in reruns, for “Pearls Before Swine.” A little less than a year ago, we switched “Herman,” whose creator had died, for “The Flying McCoys.”
Well, it’s comics strip sales season again.
This week I had a representative come to my office. He urged me to take a look at a couple of strips:
Hilarious and heartfelt, Baby Blues is about parenting, pure and simple. Except that it’s not simple. Or all that pure, for that matter. It’s about life with kids, and nearly 55 million readers daily enjoy and relate to this married couple’s wing-and-a-prayer approach to parenting.
From temper tantrums to toilet training, everyday experiences that all parents agonize over and laugh about serve as fertile comedic ground for award-winning creators Jerry Scott and Rick Kirkman.
* Important note: My mother-in-law likes “Baby Blues.”
What happens when strangers become family? DeFlocked is about four outcasts who are suddenly forced to coexist and face their deepest flaws, prejudices, fears and desires. It all plays out deep in the folds of American suburbia on a centuries-old working farm called Lubberland Farms. Behind the hay bales and fertilizer lies a secret animal preserve for the displaced, the disenchanged and highly disoriented. Hence, the name of the strip.
What would you like to see on the Charleston Daily Mail comics page?
Here’s what we run right now: