Tuesday, September 8, 2009
To illustrate one reason why newspaper comics aren't what they used to be -- let's just compare the size of a current Sunday comics section with one from the 1960s. In the top photo you see the St. Louis Dispatch comics from 8/16/09 and the Peoria Journal Star comics from 3/31/63. The new comic section is only eleven inches across, while the vintage comics are about fifteen. Six different strips and an ad are crammed onto the new page, while the vintage section gives us the half-page format Blondie and a third-page Beetle Bailey under a rather busy banner.
The new Sunday comics section is one sheet of paper that folds open to reveal eighteen different comics squeezed onto a double page spread. Some of these are smaller than daily strips were in the early days of comics. The smallest panel in that Hi and Lois strip is one and a half inch square! The back page of the section (not shown) is a full page ad for a walk-in bathtub.
The eight page vintage section gives the comics room to breathe -- two or three comics per page, twenty-two strips total. One double page layout shown below. There are all sorts of reasons why newspapers are dying -- but this certainly is one of them. Who can care about comics so small you can barely read them -- and with no room for anything but the simplest drawing? There's a lot I like about this modern world we live in -- but some things were better way back when....