What is that thing at the top of the page this morning? If it’s supposed to be a comic strip, it isn’t very funny. Actually, it’s part of a comic strip, a Sunday comic strip from 1989, to be exact. If you go to a typical Sunday strip on the comics.com site, you’ll see the drawing as originally configured, that is, as client newspapers receive it. You will notice there are three tiers, the top tier being the standing bookends logo. The top tier is designed to be lopped off at the discretion of editors to make more space, which always has been at a premium. There was a time, though, when I filled the top tier with original material. That is what you see above, the top tier of a cartoon that appeared in newspapers in 1989, and tomorrow I’ll show you the rest. I guarantee you’ve never seen it before, unless you saw it in a newspaper that was published 22 years ago.
Why did I stop filling the disposable third of my Sunday comic strip with original material? As newspapers have continued to shrink, the space problem has reached critical extremes. Most clients do not use the top tier. Would you take on 50% more work, knowing it would wind up in the trash can? Well, I wouldn’t.