Newspapers Need to Tap 'Comic Con' Fervor

Article excerpt

When "Spider-Man" creator Stan Lee briefly walked through a lower level of Manhattan's Jacob Javits Center this past Saturday, the comic-book legend was treated like a rock star by hyper-excited fans.

I saw the reaction to Lee -- who also writes the "Spider-Man" newspaper comic -- just before I participated in a panel discussion on "Comic Strips for the 21st Century." That discussion was one of Saturday's 10 concurrent noon sessions at the New York Comic Con (NYCC), and one of nearly 250 total sessions at an April 18-20 event that also featured exhibits, autograph sessions, and much more.

At least 50,000 people attended NYCC, which is only in its third year. San Diego Comic Con -- the best-known event of this type -- drew 125,000 people to its 38th-annual gathering last year.

In short, comics have a huge fan base. But few newspapers are making much of an effort to attract these devotees.

Sure, many comic-con attendees prefer comic books, graphic novels, and animation to newspaper strips -- but syndicated artists are among the draws at these events. And syndicated comics would be more appealing to cartoon fans if newspapers stopped shrinking the size of the strips they run.

Also, many papers now have fewer comics in their daily pages and fewer pages in their Sunday "funnies." Some Sunday strips used to run a full page; today, papers often cram six or seven comics per page into smaller Sunday sections.

It would also be nice if newspapers' online editions offered more comics -- including syndicated and local strips that don't make it into print editions. …