Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Serious Discussion about the Funnies

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Serious Discussion about the Funnies

Article excerpt

National Cartoonists Society convention speakers talk about everything from colorized daily comics to reader surveys

So many issues, so little time.

Comic colorization, comic language, comic polls, and comic distortion were among the topics crammed into an hourlong panel discussion at the recent National Cartoonists Society (NCS) convention in New York. The panel consisted of three newspaper editors and two syndicate people, with a number of cartoonist attendees adding their comments.

Rainbow of color views

The use of color in daily comics has grown slowly for years. While it's hard to find the total number of U.S. papers going the multihued route, about 10% of the nearly 240 dailies listed on the Reed Brennan Media Associates pagination firm's Web site ( are color clients.

"I love the color. It's an exciting addition to the daily paper," said "Beetle Bailey" creator Mort Walker of King Features Syndicate.

But some cartoonists aren't as pleased. "Daily strips are drawn to be in black and white," said "Soup to Nutz" creator Rick Stromoski of the Newspaper Enterprise Association. "When they're colorized, it completely changes the effect."

And sometimes changes the intended color, such as when a golden retriever doesn't look so golden.

"I hope when more papers go to color, syndicates will be your ombudsmen," Nancy Tew, editorial administration manager and comics editor at the Los Angeles Times, told cartoonist attendees.

Obviously, one way for cartoonists to control the color in their daily comics would be to handle it themselves. But "Luann" creator Greg Evans of United Feature Syndicate said, "That's a lot of extra work" for cartoonists already putting in long hours -- and there's no guarantee newspapers would pay them more for their time.

Words about words

There was also discussion about frank language in comics, which are still more G-rated than other newspaper sections and other media, but looser than before (E&P, Aug. 15, 1998, p. 30).

Phyllis Singer, assistant managing editor for features at Long Island, N.Y., Newsday, said one reason why such language can be controversial is because comics sections are perceived to be for children. But they're read mostly by adults, especially on weekdays.

Sarah Gillespie, comics development consultant for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, added that frank language often has more staying power in print than on screen. "You can read a word on a comic page and go back to it," she said. …

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