Should old newspaper comics make way for new ones?

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The Columbus Dispatch (love that name Dispatch, for a newspaper), dropped the daily reruns of Peanuts, they say they have been paying thousands of dollars a year for the rights to print the reruns. While it’s true that Peanuts is a money machine, should new features be run in the newspapers, leaving the legacy strips to online locations?

I’ve always felt that when a cartoonist retires or dies, the feature should go with them. I sort of was hesitant after reading the Cartoonist Round Table article awhile back, I wrote about it here. But should the comics pages make way for new features when a cartoonist is done?

I do enjoy Dick Tracy and Nancy, which have new cartoonists and writers but I also read them online, like I read most of the comics now. I rarely read them in the newspapers, for one thing, the newspaper editors have terrible taste and they don’t run the comics I like, for another thing, they are too small to read in the newspapers. I also posted an image once of one Sunday page where the panels were smaller than postage stamps!

I think most readers these days read the comics online, simply because most readers are younger and that’s where they get their news and entertainment and the newspapers are dropping many comics and features as they tighten up the printed paper.

There is an interesting column in Tedium, called, “Rethinking the Funny Pages,” where writer Ernie Smith says the newspapers comics are starting to “age out.” The column was written in February after Mort Walker’s death and the change over of Nancy. He also claims that the future of comics is online. It’s an interesting read.

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Hanging out on Sullivan Street

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Here’s a great photo from the 1930s – a bunch of boys hanging out on Sullivan Street in Brooklyn. I like that the boy at top reading the newspapers looks as if he’s reading the comics. It sort of looks like the Daily News Sunday comics section. Doesn’t it?

Cut and paste

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Years ago I worked for a local newspaper, it published three days a week, that is where I got my start in the newspaper business. It was the mid-80s. I remember my boss telling me that one day, there would be a thing called “pagination,” where the whole page would come out as one thing – the headlines, the columns, the photos. We all stood back  in awe at the thought of that.

At the time, everything was done separately, we used exacto knives or razor blades to cut and past, I preferred the blades. We had a waxing machine and waxed the stuff and placed it down on blue-lined boards. I remember years before that I went on a tour of The New York Times, I think it was in junior high school, and they had the hot type method which is really ancient by today’s standards.

One machine was used just to create headlines, another for the columns of text. For the photos, we cut in red material that came out clear when shot in the back camera room and the photos which were shot separately were then stripped in. It was a process.

I remember when I started my own graphics business a few years later and we had Compugraphic machinery that actually allowed us to change the fonts on demand! We didn’t have to stop the whole operation and change fonts.

When computers started being used in the process, I asked one of my brothers who was in the computer business if he knew of a way where we could change fonts on the computer. He said there is possibly a way but it would be hard to program. I just wanted a few fonts to switch back and forth from. Crazy to think of now, huh where we have thousands of fonts at our disposal.

My comics had brought me to the newspapers business. I had submitted a bunch to the newspaper and they called me to come in one time, when I went in I found out that they weren’t interested in my comics, but they wanted me to work at the newspapers in the production department, which ended up being my design future to this day.

I did draw a lot for them though, I did a lot of cartoon work for ads that people placed and also I did political stuff. I’m sure I have those old newspapers somewhere, probably in my parents’ garage or something. I need to go look for them.

Visiting the New York Herald again

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This image of Herald Square is from 1903.

I’m not sure why I am obsessed these days with the old New York Herald building. This past summer I spent a lot of time in front of the old site looking at it. It’s an ugly mid century (1960s) square block building now with a bank and drugstore in the space.

I was standing to the right of the trolley shown at the right of this photo; standing right in front of the site. Macy’s is the left today.

One day I was on my way to meet a friend to see Hello Dolly, 10 blocks away, and on the way I stopped here and just contemplated the location. So much history is still in New York, but so much is gone. I saw Hello Dolly in the Shubert Theater, which was opened in 1913. The Herald building was standing at the same time a few blocks away.

The Herald building opened in 1894 and they left around 1924 after a 30 year lease. A clothing store took over the location and retrofitted the newspaper offices and press room but around 1940, the building was demolished for the ugly new structure that is there today, which is almost 80 years old. The actual newspapers only lasted in that location for 30 years.

You would think Herald Square would have kept the Herald building. Times Square still has the Times building. It’s behind all those neon signs, you have to look hard to see it.

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The ugly building that replaced the NY Herald at Herald Square.

The Village Voice is dead

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The Village Voice is gone. Dead.

They went from printed publication to online publication three years ago, but that was good, as so many publicatons are going online. But now it is totally gone.

I read it in Gothamist, but Gothamist was dead for a bit but they were resurrected so who knows. Maybe the Voice will come back.

The Village Voice was special to me because it was my foray into New York City when I wasn’t in New York City.

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Feiffer cartoon.

For most of my life I spent a lot of time in NYC, even though home is Miami. But ever since I was a boy, I would go to NYC and spend long periods of time there. I would go during high school vacations and sometimes spend months there and even now I will spend long periods of time there. I spent weeks there this summer and I’ll be back for ComicCon next month and then Thanksgiving in November so the Village Voice was how I kept up with New York when I wasn’t there. And you know what? I don’t think I ever actually read it while in New York. I think it was just my taste of NY when I wasn’t in New York.

There was something forbidden about it when I was 16, I don’t know what, maybe the backpage ads? Maybe the articles? Whatever it was, I would read it in the library at high school and college and also at our town library. It was so New York-y that I felt as if I was in New York when immersed in it.

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Life in Hell, by Matt Groening

I loved the early cartoons as well as the articles. Jules Feiffer, R. Crumb, Matt Groening, Ted Rall, Tom Tomorrow, I could go on; such great cartoonists. I read them all.

I remember at one time their address was on University Place in New York and every time I walked by or crossed University Place, even to this day, I think of the Voice. I don’t think I ever sought out the building, but just seeing the street name reminds me of The Village Voice.

Thinking of newspapers

Newspapers are not where comics are most popular these days. Millennials, as we know, don’t read the newspaper, at least not the printed version.  It took me a long time to come to terms with that regarding my own work. It’s like making a movie and having it go straight to video. That is how I felt not having my comics in the newspapers. Comics were created for newspapers. But it’s a new era.

I think of the kids born today or in the last few years. Will they ever know the feeling of going outside and picking up the newspaper off the front porch, taking it in, smelling the ink and the paper, getting the feel of it all and reading the news from cover to cover, in black and white? There was a time when the ink came off on your fingers. Now they just flip through it all on their phones.

517AbN9Y1+L._SL250_I think of the days of George Herriman, George McManus, Rudolf Dirks, Bud Fisher and the others, when cartoonists were the celebrities of the day. What was it like in 1905 or 1915? I’m glad I’m here today, but I like to think back sometimes and wonder about those times were like. I think of the excitement of the newspapers, the deadlines, the camaraderie.

If you haven’t read the book on George Herriman and Krazy Kat by Michael Tisserand called, “Krazy: George Herriman, a Life in Black and White“, do yourself a favor and read it. It will transport you back to that time, you literally are immersed in that period. You feel as if you are in those old newspaper newsrooms and walking the streets of New York and Los Angeles. I am about to read it again. It’s sort of like “Breaking Bad” to me, I can just envelope myself in the story and get lost at any time of day.

My brush with the NY Daily News

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The first thing I would see on Sundays when I was a kid.

I’ve always wanted to have my comic strip printed in the New York Daily News and just a few years go Iwasthisclose. But due to the current climate and the constant staff changes, it didn’t happen.

At one time, for many years, the New York Daily News was the highest circulation newspaper in the country. It had 1 million readers a day, and way back in the day, say in the 1940s, they had 2 million readers daily and 4 million on Sunday! That was the place to be. They used to say that three people would read every one newspaper – so that is a hell of a lot of people reading one issue.

The editors loved my work, they practically had me in the paper, they wanted to know how many comics I had, how long I could sustain the feature, when I could start, etc. etc. I met with them at the building downtown, not the Daily News building on 42nd Street, they are now in an office building next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal.

I remember how excited I was that day, I had swag with me, Tomversation cube pads and pens and stuff and I had a wonderful meeting. But it never was to be, by the time I got home to Miami, the guys I met with were gone. One was fired for sexual harassment!

I started the process all over and again, the new editors were very interested. The problem at the Daily News at the time and probably even more so today is that there is not one specific editor for features or comics or things like that. At one point I dealt with the Sunday editor of the whole newspaper, another time a news editor. And again, it was not to be, mostly because of total confusion at the newspaper.

I have come to terms knowing that my comics will have a home on the internet and that is really a better place for so many reasons. But that was my brush with the New York Daily News.