Recently, the Lafayette Journal and Courier’s Reader Panel discussed the Sunday comics. The comics section is a part of our cultural heritage, and any changes are the quickest way for an editor to get complaints. It’s no surprise that the Managing Editor never gave us an explicit reason for the discussion, but I’m sure it has something to do with figuring out which comics can be cut to add new ones. Comics are expensive, and if the readers aren’t reading them, then it’s time for fresh blood. I read all of the comics, but that’s not the case for everyone on the panel. In fact, the least funny comics tend to be the most read in the group. Probably because the group tends to be old enough to enjoy “The Family Circus”.
I did find some things interesting. For example, “Mallard Fillmore” had more regular readers than “Doonesbury”. They’re both very political, but I understand that the political leanings of the duck fit better with the older, Midwestern demographic. What I don’t understand is how it’s entertaining. “Doonesbury” has a story arc and character development. “Mallard Fillmore” strips are standalone and have all the subtlety of a brick to the face.
“Peanuts” is still widely read, even though it’s been nearly 11 years since Charles Schulz died. I rarely find it funny, but it still manages to amuse me in a way few comics can. It’s timeless. The same can’t be said for other old timers like “Blondie”, “Beetle Bailey”, and “Garfield”. Holy crap, is anything less funny than “Garfield”? The only way to make “Garfield” funny is to take Garfield out. See http://garfieldminusgarfield.net.
So what could the Journal and Courier get rid of? I wouldn’t shed a tear if “Garfield”, “The Lockhorns”, “Crankshaft”. “Mallard Fillmore”, or “The Family Circus”went away. But like I told the editor, “if you cut ‘Pearls Before Swine’, I’ll cut you!”