The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Mankato Free Press Editor's Blog

February 11, 2014

Doonesbury to end daily strip, offer reruns

The world of political comic strip commentary just got, well, a little political.

Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau announced Tuesday he would be ending production of the daily comic strip to devote more time to a new Amazon instant video called "Alpha House," a comedy about four Republican senators sharing a house in Washington D.C.

Doonesbury distributor Universal Press Syndicate said it would provide newspapers that subscribe to the daily strip "flashback" strips dating back to the 1970s and up through the 1990s. Those strips would essentially be reruns. The syndicate sells the idea noting they were the strips that got Trudeau on the cover of Time and helped  him win a Pulitzer Prize. 

The syndicate is offering a slight price reduction to newspapers that agree to keep running the strips.

Other syndicates were quick to criticize the deal in hopes of getting newspapers to switch to other strips in this cutthroat comic sales business.

A note to The Free Press from the Washington Post representative stated:

"Now, as never before, is the time to stand up to the questionable practice of reruns, requiring you to pay a second or third time for strips and giving comics readers old news.  Will your readers really love reading old “Doonesbury” strips about the Iraq invasion or George W Bush for a second time?

You can add a Washington Post Syndicate comic for free for the first 90-days after that the subscription rate will be at a 30% savings."

I'm a little torn on this one. Cutting Doonesbury would likely raise the ire of a lot of Doonesbury loyalists even though the strips are essentially reruns. At the same time, pulling Doonesbury from the daily opinion page would leave only the right-leaning Mallard Fillmore on the page, thus tipping the balance we have long strived for on that page.

It does seem a bit unfair from a business point of view to have to continue to pay for something that old, regardless of its nostalgic value.

There is also the option of adding the Sunday Doonesbury, which will continue to be new strips. We would also likely add the Sunday Mallard Fillmore to provide balance. But then again, both would likely be more costly and we're always trying to keep our costs down.

So here's your chance to weigh in Free Press readers. Let me know what you think we should do. Cut Doonesbury, keep Mallard Fillmore? Cut both from daily and add both to Sunday?

You can weigh in on our Facebook page under this blog of email me at jspear@mankatofreepress.com

 

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