Friday, January 15, 2010

If I Ran the Comics Page

Well, not me, personally. I can think of fewer jobs that are more thankless. No budget, no space, and no ability to change ANYTHING? Sounds great! Sign me up!

But the Comics Journal and the Washington Post have weighed in on this:

The quote comes from Dave Astor, whose longtime beat was syndicates. Writing this week in The Comics Journal, Eric Millikin asked the former Editor&Publisher journalist the ol' "If I Were King" question -- here reframed with a Seussian twist. The passage read as such:

MILLIKIN: This is the Dr. Seuss "If I Ran the Circus" question: If you were running a newspaper chain or comics syndicate, what risks would you be taking? What do you think the industry ought to be doing that they're not?

ASTOR: If I were running a syndicate, I'd add more alternative-type comics and keep only the best "legacy" comics (which, as many cartooning fans know, are those comics whose original creator is dead - often long dead). The fewer "legacy" comics, the more slots there would be for talented creators trying to break into the business. I think a syndicate should have a mix of all types of comics, but, in general, the current mix is too tame and not modern enough to attract enough of the young-adult readers needed by daily newspapers.

And if I were running a newspaper chain, I'd publish dozens of comics in each of the chain's papers, have a staff editorial cartoonist at each paper, and let reporters do livelier writing. I'd also settle for a smaller company profit and smaller executive salaries in order to pay for those dozens of comics, pay for those staff editorial cartoonists, and not lay off reporters. Obviously, no corporate-type person would let me run a newspaper chain in real life!

Wishful thinking. I can't see any newspaper risking their remaining base by doing anything risky. I fear the majority of print papers will wilt into obscurity over the next decade, and comic strips (like news) will go mostly online.

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