Run for Your Life V

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Crab in Grapeland yesterday commented that I “at last” had touched on a subject that has puzzled him. The subject: where is cartooning headed? Well, Crab, it is an interesting question, and I might have touched on it sooner if I had any idea. It seems to me newspapers are no longer in the free fall they were in following the downturn of 2008, but many are hanging on by a skinny branch, like Sarge in a Beetle Bailey comic strip. It is the consensus that newspapers never again will be as profitable or numerous as they were only a generation ago, and that’s an understatement. Indeed, there are major cities today with no daily metropolitan newspaper at all, a situation I didn’t expect to see in my lifetime. However, I think the greatest threat to those who work in the industry today is death by a thousand cuts. I haven’t heard of a newspaper out there that isn’t suffering loss of revenue, and that always means cutbacks, not good news to those who survive selling things to newspapers, things like comic strips. Still, comic strips are popular, which is why they survive in print at all, and I think the favorites will be around as long as the newspapers that run them. Don’t ask me how long that will be. Until then, I think “traditional” comic strips will be a hybrid animal, sustained by shrinking newspapers and bolstered by a Worldwide Web that, for most, promises survival but not fame and fortune. Many are already that animal, in fact. And you wonder why I don’t touch on this subject more often?

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