A couple of years ago my wife and I participated in a contest to determine which of several comic strips would “make the cut” and continue to be featured in the ever-shrinking section of the newspaper known as the comics…or the funny papers as referred to back in the day.
You could call in toll-free and “vote” as often as you like. The competition was spirited based on the weekly tally updates – it lasted for a month or so. Our preferred comic eventually did retain its slot…in no small measure to our constantly placing calls when we had some down time. It was fun. We hoped we wouldn’t lose the easy access to it and we didn’t. We felt a sense of accomplishment and were encouraged by the number of people who apparently still read comics. We felt for those whose comics didn’t “make the cut.”
Newspapers are quickly shrinking in size and volume alike…and competition to stay in them among the nationally syndicated comic strips has never been higher. Of course, they all can be seen online…but having your strip still running in newspapers across the country certainly means something to their creators above and beyond compensation.
And…it means the world to loyal comic section readers.
However, I never thought I would see so many funny papers haters.
These people don’t hate comics. They read them every day.
They hate the fact they are shrinking. They despise the fact they are moving to other parts of the paper. They are fearful their favorites are the next to leave their hands.
I am learning just how much fans of funny papers do not consider it a laughing matter when you mess with their fun.
Stephan Pastis writes a comic strip called “Pearls Before Swine.” It is edgy. It gets reactions. In Pastis’ recently released collection, “Larry in Wonderland,” he included a section devoted to “Letters To The Editor” newspapers received around the country over the years calling for his strip to be stripped from comic sections…by people who allegedly love comics…by people who should be fun.
Wouldn’t anyone who reads comics daily have a broad sense of humor that would embrace most anything? Or at the very least, would they not be overly tolerant of those strips they don’t necessarily enjoy themselves…because they are funny people at their essence who can appreciate someone else might enjoy them?
Pastis’ sample “Letters” in his book are eye-opening considering they are coming from people who should be fun at heart. As stated above, I do believe this passion is translating into hate purely out of sheer frustration and fear the times they are a changin’ in the world of comics. Change is hard. One example:
“The Courier-Journal (Louisville KY) is messing with the comics again. This time it’s serious; you’ve moved the comic strips around on the page! It’s too bad that “Pearls Before Swine” is at the top of the page. I can’t believe anyone actually reads that piece of imbecilic garbage.”
My wife and I LOVE Pastis’ strip. We’re not imbeciles. I never thought anyone who would be so passionate about fun could be so full of hatred.
But you see the bigger issue within the “Letter.” Their main problem is the comics section got moved…Pastis’ strip just serves as collateral damage for what they really have an issue with.
Yes, everyone has their own unique definition of funny. However, even for those “Letters” that attack the strip’s specifics…I maintain they are being written by people who are supremely passionate about comics and are just so very upset the comics are shifting…are shrinking.
And it is obvious many who still read the funny papers are sadly having less fun as a result.