Monday, January 14, 2008


The ‘Cincinnati Post’ published their last edition on December 31st, after 125 years on the stands. It was one of the last afternoon newspapers in the country, and with circulation having dropped below 30,000 it just couldn’t make it. My family subscribed to the Post and I was raised on its comic strips, such as ‘Peanuts’, ‘Calvin & Hobbes’, and ‘Frank & Ernest’.

Readers of the Post’s comics must now go to the web. Of course, if they’re web comic readers they most likely weren’t reading the Post anyway. I myself confess that I haven’t read the funnies regularly since I stopped subscribing to a newspaper a few years ago. I haven’t read the Post’s funnies for decades, except on occasion, yet I lament the loss of strips like ‘Sally Forth’, ‘Born Loser’ and, one of Grandpa’s favorites, ‘Luann’. It remains for me an acceptable incongruity.

Four of the Post’s strips have been absorbed by Cincinnati’s morning paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer. Those strips, chosen partially by a readers’ poll from October, are ‘Get Fuzzy’, ‘Pearls Before Swine’, ‘Dilbert’ and ‘Classic Peanuts’. ‘Dilbert’, the last strip to become any kind of mass phenomenon, was a no-brainer (by the way, you can read the original 50-strip submission by Scott Adams on Very cool!). ‘Fuzzy’ and ‘Pearls’ are both talking animal strips that have debuted in the past ten years that seem to have a similar sensibility. Reading a month’s worth of both yielded few chuckles, but honestly that’s the same result I’d get from a month of ‘Hagar’ or ‘Beetle Bailey’.

There was a bit of controversy after Charles Schulz’s death in 2000. The ‘Peanuts’ strip died with him in that there were no more new ones, but the syndicate, and most of ‘Peanuts’ papers, carried on with reprints under the name ‘Classic Peanuts’. Many cartoonists trying to break out were upset. Schulz had more papers than any other cartoonist and some saw his death at their shot to add papers now that ‘Peanuts’ would be gone. Readers, papers and the syndicate had a different idea, and the most popular comic strip of all time continues. It won the Enquirer readers’ poll. Currently they’re running strips from 1961. Unless your over 50 or a younger ‘Peanuts’ fanatic (such as myself), these strips are new to you (and consistently funnier than the rest of the comics page).

Playing a zero-sum game, four strips in meant four strips out. Gone are ‘B.C.’, ‘Agnes’, ‘Flo & Friends’ and ‘Tina’s Groove’. ‘B.C.’ creator Johnny Hart died last year, with his daughter and grandchildren taking over the strip (the strip is signed “Mason”, Hart’s grandson Mason Mastroianni).

I don’t know much about ‘Flo & Friends’ and all I know about ‘Agnes’ is that I never read it because I find the crude art offensive. ‘Tina’s Groove’ is quirky but doesn’t understand that offbeat characters and dialogue have to have some truth to them, as in ‘Dinette Set’, or the laughs don’t follow.

Fortunately for web users, there is no shortage of ways to read comic strips online. There’s actually an abundance of strips that are exclusively online and will never see paper reproduction. For traditional comics readers, I recommend the comics page at the Houston Chronicle. There are over 100 strips available, most of them in color, and you can build your own comics page, bookmark it, and then visit every day. Or you could buy a paper…while you still can.

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