Comic Strips

comic strips.JPG

When I was this kid’s age, shortly after I came home from school (after walking barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways, even in the summer), the afternoon paper showed up containing about a dozen comics. All second- or third-tier comics, because I lived just outside of New York City and the City papers between them had exclusive regional rights to everything worth reading. Our top strip was, I think, Tiger. Once a week, in the Sunday News, I’d get to see comics the rest of the world had heard of.

Peanuts? B.C.? A few times a year when I went into the City with my father and we picked up the New York Post. And during the summer, when we stayed in an area where an out-of-town edition of the Post was delivered.

So even if the newspapers from his grandfather’s childhood contained more comics strips than they do now — which might or might not be the case (and assuming the kid actually reads newspapers) — this is the Golden Age for “number of comic strips”: 8-year-old me literally had no access to Dick Tracy during the week, while he can choose among hundreds if not thousands of comic strips on a daily basis.

EDITED TO ADD: Come to think of it, “And before we knew it, that was all” needs the CIDU tag.



  1. I think Frazz’s final comment concerns the rapid shrinkage of the comic pages since that time.
    P.S. When I was a kid, Washington’s comics were split between the Post and Star. We never got the Star, but I never missed it(*), because the Post carried four full pages of daily comics, and (I think) 16 pages (in two sections) on Sundays.
    P.P.S. I did not learn until it was far too late that the Star had carried “Pogo”, but knowing it would not have helped me much, since I would not have understood the strip at the time.

  2. In my youth, there were two daily papers, one morning, and one afternoon. The morning paper ate the afternoon one, and installed the full comic page. Now, the morning paper isn’t a true daily any more. Then I enlisted and was sent to Colorado, where there were still two newspapers, and each of them had more comics than the combined page in the one paper back home.
    They carried “Calvin and Hobbes” from the first day, and I found it on around day 3, and failed to pick up the crucial fact that the big, talking tiger and the little suffed tiger were the same character.

    I’ll point out that while today is a great time to be a comics fan with an Internet connection, it’s not a very good time to be a syndicated cartoonist. The traditional model has two intermediaries between the cartoonist and the reader. Disintermediation takes both intermediaries out of the picture… but one of them was the one paying the bills.

  3. . . . which is why I buy the books by the cartoonists I read online and/or support them on Patreon and often on any KickStarter projects they have going.

  4. I have about a ton of books of cartoons. But not all syndicated cartoons get books. Go into one of the remaining bookstores and examine the cartoon books section. What do you find? Every Calvin and Hobbes, several Garfield, some Peanuts, and representatives of about five or six other strips.

    Lincoln Pierce (or someone at his syndicate) had the genius idea of marketing Big Nate books to kids rather than to comics fans generally. Those books are shelved with the books for teens rather than with the other comic strips.

  5. Many cartoonists have their books listed for sale on their sites, or thru . . . and will announce new publications. I just brought Keith Knights 2019 calendar (I don’t USE calendars) and his latest book, announced on his website. Also the ‘Pooch Café’ book that features his puppyhood, and a beautiful book on the art of Berkeley Breathed.

  6. How far outside of New York did you live, Bill? I don’t think I’m a whole lot younger than you and grew up in the Chicago suburbs. We had newspaper delivery for all three (though eventually we were down to two) newspapers — the Daily News, the Sun-Times, and the Tribune.

  7. I grew up in Yonkers. Which is close enough that when NYC consolidated in the 1890s, Yonkers had the option if becoming the sixth borough.

    But people just didn’t buy the City papers on weekdays, and there was no home delivery. Delivery of the local paper, though, was nearly universal (which I know for a fact because I was a delivery boy for a time).

    I’m pretty sure every candy store did carry copies of the daily News and Post, but they weren’t a factor. They were really designed as commuter tabloids, but my father rarely took the subway to work.

  8. Re the CIDU part:
    The kid is complaining about all of the other people complaining about “Is that all there is?” Then the kid implicitly complains about “Is that all there is” in respect to the amount of comics in current newspapers. Frazz points out the hypocrisy of that.

  9. The unspoken part of Frazz’ concluding comment is “and you’re lucky to have as much as you do.”

  10. For as long as I can remember — going back to 1970 — the Boston Globe has always had two pages of comics.

    Beginning this week, the Boston Globe has one page of comics.

    Do they think I buy it for the ads?

  11. Mark in Boston, it is my recollection that in the mid-70s, the Herald had the better comic section, but the Globe had Doonesbury.

    It’s very possible that I’m wrong.

  12. @ CIDUBill (& CIDU Bill, too) – Some time before the Washington Star went out of business, they benefitted from a transfer coup that gave them syndication rights to Doonesbury, which they trumpeted around in incessantly smug advertisements. Not wanting to deliver free publicity space in service to the competition, the Post dropped the strip several weeks before their contract ran out. Once the Star’s contract started, they published all of the “missing” strips in a special section. It wasn’t enough to save the paper, of course. After the paper finally folded, the syndicate gave the publication rights back to the Post.

  13. Back in the 80s, the local morning paper The Globe-Democrat folded up. The Post-Dispatch switched from afternoon to morning and expanded the size of the papers. As part of that, they picked up a bunch of the comic strips that been in the Globe and expanded the comic section.

  14. I remember sometime in the 80s the (Boston) Globe significantly expanded the daily comics, to a two-page spread from… one and a bit maybe? I’m not sure. I can’t reconcile this with what Mark says…

  15. Our local regional paper has decided that including copies of OLD papers in holiday and special edition papers is how to keep and get customers – as opposed to good journalism, proper writing, more than 2 pages in a section, not delivering the paper by throwing it from a moving car onto the driveway (into the snow), allowing Macys to have heavily scented ads, etc. (Latest thing they are doing is since it is also online, I will be reading the Monday paper -for example – and it will say that something will happen “Monday” instead of today, I think they mean next Monday and confused and then angry at them when I remember what they are doing.)

    So with the New Year’s Day paper they included a reprint from 1944. They also included a color comics section from 1944. Problem is they did not have a Sunday paper or color comics – or the Sunday comics – when I was a kid. The Sunday issues started in the1970s/1980s just before we were married. I know they did not have them earlier as I used to be upset that my parents did not get the Daily news as they had Sunday (color) comics and I wanted them – and my grandparents would save them and give them to me when they saw us. So how the heck did they have Sunday color comics in 1944?

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