We will be making a number of changes to our Sunday and daily comics pages beginning Dec. 2.
On Monday through Saturday, in the Life section, we will replace three features – Kidspot, B.C. (the original artist, Johnny Hart, died earlier this year) and Beetle Bailey – with three new comics: Bliss, a panel by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, Brewster Rockit: Space Guy by Tim Rickard, and Animal Crackers by Fred Wagner.
In Sunday’s color comics, we're adding a variety of puzzles and strips and losing some of our older, and we think more stale comics. Puzzles, whether crosswords, Sudoku, Kakuro or others, have become increasingly popular as research suggests they can help keep aging minds sharp.
The new additions will include Boggle, a word-find puzzle; Scrabble, a Sunday version of the popular feature that already runs Monday-Saturday; a crossword from Tribune Media Services (the New York Times puzzle will remain in the Life section); Jumble Crosswords, which combines the popular Jumble concept with a crossword; Jumble for kids; and Kids Across/Parents Down, a family crossword.
We're also adding these comics: Brewster Rockit: Space Guy; Loose Parts; Shoe; The Pink Panther (which will be replaced in 2008 by a new strip called Retro Geek); The Middletons; Animal Crackers; and Broom Hilda.
From the current Sunday lineup, we will drop Beetle Bailey, Zack Hill, B.C., Ziggy, Over the Hedge, Pooch Café, Marvin, Blondie, Hagar the Horrible, Hi & Lois, Lola and Prince Valiant.
We know that not all of these changes will be popular with readers, especially not right away. Every comic, from the best to the worst, has dedicated fans. Comics are habitual. And messing with reader habits is not something editors do lightly, but on the other hand a newspaper that doesn’t change becomes stagnant.
It’s always worth remembering that the comic you love today was once new and unfamiliar and probably found a home in the newspaper at the expense of some other feature that got the boot.
So, for you devoted followers of Prince Valiant, of Dagwood and Blondie, of Beetle Bailey and others, we apologize for disrupting your world. We think we’ve kept the best of our old strips and made room for some future favorites. Try one of the puzzles; it may be good for you.
Here is an FAQ we prepared about the comics changes:
Q. When do these changes take effect?
A. Changes to the color comics will first appear in the Sunday, Dec. 2, newspaper. Changes to the daily comics in the Life section will occur Monday, Dec. 3.
Q. What features are you adding?
A. Monday through Saturday, we're adding three new comics:
Bliss, a panel by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss
Brewster Rockit: Space Guy
Animal Crackers by Fred Wagner
On Sundays, we're adding six new puzzles:
Boggle, a word-find puzzle,
Scrabble, a version of the feature that runs Monday-Saturday,
A crossword from Tribune Media (the NYT puzzle will remain in Life),
Jumble Crosswords, which combines a Jumble and a crossword,
Jumble for Kids, and
Kids Across/Parents Down, a family crossword.
And we're adding these color comics:
Brewster Rockit: Space Guy,
The Pink Panther (to be replaced in 2008 by a new strip called Retro Geek),
Animal Crackers, and
Q. What are you dropping?
On Sundays, we're dropping . . .
Over the Hedge,
Hagar the Horrible,
Hi & Lois,
Monday through Saturday, we're dropping . . .
B.C. (the cartoonist, Johnny Hart, died earlier this year), and
Q. Why are you making these changes?
A. The newspaper has to make periodic changes, and if we’re going to add new features we have to getting rid of some others. We wanted a different mix, and a number of the strips have appeared for decades and seem old and tired.
Q. (Fill in the blank) is my favorite comic. Why would you drop it?
A. We based our decisions on a combination of reader feedback (we did a full reader-comics survey last summer) and our sense of which strips are becoming stale. We also saw the opportunity to serve an increasing reader interest in puzzles in general. In the mix of features, we try to strike a balance between material for kids and grownups, between more sophisticated and more slapstick tastes, and between more traditional and more contemporary content.
Q. Why fix something that's not broken?
A. We live in a world of constant and accelerating change. The newspaper isn't immune from the pressure to change and adapt. Where once a newspaper might have changed its comics lineup once every 20 years, these days we need to do it more like every 20 months. The Beetle Bailey strip has been around for almost 60 years, Blondie for 80 and Prince Valiant for 73 years. Even if you don't think they're broken, you have to consider the possibility that they're past their prime.
Q. But my day won't be complete if I can’t read . . .
A. Most of the comics we're dropping can be viewed online for free. Here are some places to find them:
www.arcamax.com (Beetle Bailey, B.C., Blondie, Hagar the Horrible)
www.gocomics.com (Zack Hill, B.C., Pooch Café, Ziggy)
www.comics.com (Over the Hedge, Lola, B.C, Zack Hill)
www.comicalert.com (Marvin, Hi & Lois)
Same-day strips of Prince Valiant are not yet available online, but Comic Alert says it is trying to get the feature for its site.
Q. It seems like the ADN keep cutting things out of the newspaper.
A. With all the changes going on in the world of news and communications, especially with the growth of the internet, the newspaper has had to reorient itself, to focus on what we at the Daily News can offer uniquely and to deliver it when and where readers want it. We have, for example, shifted considerable resources from print to online, where our audience is growing rapidly. And everything we're doing is in the face of an ever-more-intense competition for the attention of readers and the support of advertisers. In a general sense, we have been asked to do more with less, and we are.
Q. Beetle Bailey has been in the paper for years. This is a military community. How can you kill Beetle Bailey?
A. Beetle has indeed been in the paper for many years. During that time, the world, especially the military world, has changed tremendously, but Beetle Bailey has not. For example, the role of women in the military today is hardly represented by the stereotype of the general's buxom secretary. We would love to have a good comic about life in the military, and we're looking for one. But for now, we think Beetle's world of dimwitted soldiers chasing dimwitted women while outmaneuvering dimwitted NCOs under the supervision of dimwitted officers has passed its day.
Q. I hate (fill in the blank). Why do we have to have that in the paper?
A. We know that each of the comics we're dropping has devoted fans, while the new ones haven’t had years to develop a following. We hope you will give the new features a chance. Who knows, you may find a new favorite.
Q. How do I want to lobby for different features or the return of my favorite strip? ?
A. We dropped Prince Valiant once before but ended up bringing him back by popular demand. You can write to us at Comics, Anchorage Daily News, 1001 Northway Drive, Anchorage, AK 99508, or email your comments to comics@ADN.com.