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  1.  (8116.1)
    Do you remember newspaper strips?

    Not so much the funnies, the stuff that is now really being done best on the web for the most part. The dramatic strips. The old, old stuff. I was reading a bunch of the old JEFF HAWKE strips last night, from the Sixties. Proper "Brits in space" stuff, DAN DARE-derivative. But Sydney Jordan was a wizard with black-and-white art, and William Patterson was a much more sophisticated writer than Frank Hampson and anyone in his crew.

    Of course, you can count off things like JEFF HAWKE on your fingers and still have change. It's an antiquitous format, belonging to the days of Alex Raymond. The last really attractive attempt I saw to revive it was Travis Charest's handful of SPACEGIRL strips.

    A difficult format, too. Hard to produce enough of a kick in those few panels to make people come back tomorrow. Which, of course, gave it a weird advantage, back then, because people bought newspapers. You were part of a confluence of reasons why people bought the paper, not the sole reason people came back every day. Which is why the humour model flourishes on the web -- you can crank off a gag in three panels, and if people laugh they'll bookmark you there and then. Getting enough plot or character or spectacle happening in the same space to make people want to come back tomorrow -- not so easy.

    (Also, in a blog format, you're usually also looking at making the piece work at a width of 600 pixels. So you're unlikely to be working in "classic" strip format anyway.)

    Newspaper strips are probably on the verge of being handed to the Dead Media Project, and assumed to have evolved into one end of the webcomic. I do think that's kind of a shame. I mean, I'm sure I'll be deluged in links to weird drama comics in the newspaper-strip format now -- I didn't see any in Webcomics Week, but I'm not done reading through that thread yet. And the format is more of a dice-roll in the game of capturing eyeballs than a humour strip. But the daily nature of blogging structure would seem to be a fit regardless.

    Maybe I'll do something horrible to you in REMAKE/REMODEL next week.
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    If you do something horrible in REMAKE/REMODEL next week I'd be a happy man. The Freakangels/x-men challenge was mighty difficult, but I learnt so much from taking part.

    I liked that DC put the original Superman dailies on the web for free - it was a lot of fun to read. It's a shame that newspaper strips are on the decline. On the other hand, there is so much talent running through the webcomics scene.
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    Which is why the humour model flourishes on the web -- you can crank off a gag in three panels, and if people laugh they'll bookmark you there and then. Getting enough plot or character or spectacle happening in the same space to make people want to come back tomorrow -- not so easy.

    Ain't that the truth. I can think of at least two reasonably prominent webcartoonists who I know would rather be doing this kind of material but are doing funnies because that's what gets the eyes on the screen.
      CommentAuthormister hex
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    The state of newspaper comics never fails to depress me. Things like Marmaduke are still being published - WHY, exactly? There's only one gag! "Look, that gigantic fucking dog thinks he's people!" Worse, a movie's been made! Garfield. Cathy. Ziggy. None of these were EVER funny. Bill Waterson quit in disgust. Lynne Johnston is now rerunning old strips, tweakiing them slightly to make her author-avatar character seem more put-upon ... for some reason. Funky Winkerbean is all about breast cancer now, apparently. Things like Mary Worth are still running. Jaysus Effing Christ on a motorbike, WHY???

    It's sad and strangely fitting that Charles Schultz DIED the day the last Peanuts strip ran.

    I have a fairly extensive collection of old B.C. paperbacks, old Wizard Of Id, Broom Hilda and ... um, even Family Circus collections. (ANOTHER p.o.s. strip that's still going, handed down to Keane's son, who either doesn't understand comedy or just plain hates his job.) They're not high art but they're at least enjoyable. Maybe that's just nostalgia, whistling in my ear ...

    When I was a kid, Ernie Bushmiller's Nancy was the Butt Monkey of the comics page. Nowadays, the whole page is nigh-unreadable.
    • CommentAuthorJohnnyW
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    Apparently the long-running Daily Mirror strip 'Garth' was rebooted for the web back in 2008:

    Looking on the Mirror website though, I don't think it lasted.

    They are still running the 'Scorer' football stories however, which I enjoyed as a kid because they frequently contained boobs.
    • CommentAuthorStefanJ
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    The local paper carries Prince Valiant on Sundays. That's about it. Everything else is humor. (Unless you count Doonesbury's continuing stories . . . like the current one about sexual predators in the military.)

    Oh, wait. There's also Judge Parker, one of those old lady continuing drama strips. It's shoved back in the classified ad section.
  2.  (8116.7)
    Bah, Garfield used to be funny and occasionally still is.

    We've never had dramatic strips in the papers I've read and read, but as a creative challenge thingy I'm kind of interested. One of the trickier parts of adapting to the webcomic format for me is getting a pacing where the reader actually wants to come back while still having the thing feel like a cohesive whole for the collected edition.

    If I could talk and artist into, I'd sure give a dramatic strip a shot.
  3.  (8116.8)
    All I remember, of course, are the comic strips from Brazilian newspapers. I am convinced some of them were drama, even though they were labeled as humor, because it's hard to believe humor was being attempted to that degree of utter incompetence. It's a mixture of Brazilian strips (horrible, horrible, horrible) and imports such as Hagar, Calvin & Hobbes and other strips that seemed to better understand the concept of making people laugh.

    So I was never treated to "brits in space" kind of strips, and looking at a few samples of JEFF HAWKE online, I am again convinced I was born in the wrong fucking country.

    (To better illustrate my point, here's a Brazilian strip called GATÃO DE MEIA-IDADE, very roughly translated to HANDSOME MIDDLE-AGED MAN:

    Pros: You can watch the dirty movies that air late at night.
    Cons: But you'll sleep hugging your pillow.

    This is the level of ocean-deep insight I was subjected to. And they made a movie out of this strip. I am surprised I ever developed a sense of humor at all.)
  4.  (8116.9)
    I think — and I might completely be off the mark here — newspaper strips are still produced in Belgiumæ… Classics like Spike & Suzy, and other series in that vein. I can't remember newspapers in Belgium (or weekly magazines a la radiotimes) running serialised strips of the Dan Dare type, it has always been the more family friendly, all-ages adventures stuff. It did work though, because dad would read the paper for the news, my brother and I for the strips and inevitably as I grew older I started to explore other sections of the newspaper (still have to crack the sports section though).
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    Funny enough, the only webcomic I'm aware of currently doing this is one you've already linked to: World of Hurt. I notice that, in addition to being well-suited to blogging, the format's also good for those fancy robot phones you kids like to talk about.
    • CommentAuthorsnafu
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010 edited
    @mister hex Lynn johnston announced her retirement from the strip a few years ago with the intention of reprinting the originals with occasional new strips to act as a framing device. A short time later she and her husband of 30 years announced their plans to separate and divorce, followed shortly by her announcement to retool the original strips. Might have something to do with the tone of the strip these days.

    As for newspaper strips in general, I don't read them anymore. When I moved to Sydney I tried to follow a few I liked online, but just stopped after a while. I still visit everyday though.
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    In some parts of the U.S. there are still "drama" strips like Rex Morgan, MD being printed. King Features have quite a few like The Phantom and Prince Valiant. Last Wednesday I went to a comic book store (don't get me started, next week i'm just going to burn a twenty dollar bill while reciting a litany on Why Comics Suck) and found a Spider-Man strip running in Comic Shop News. Sure it took me nearly twenty minutes to make up some story for my son as to why Spider-Man is in Miami fighting Sabretooth (wtf?) but there's still some out there. Quality is debatable and interest is minimal it seems.

    I've always wondered why there wasn't more cross-talk between comic books and comic strips. Same medium, different delivery system. I was just flipping through a copy of Lust For Life on my not-a-smoke break. What Spider Watches On TV is in a six panel grid on a page. Slap them all on the same horizontal line and do a page a day and BOOM newspaper strip.

    I also never understood why it was so hard to do something other than humour in this style. If you have only three panels to work within for a day and you know you have seven days to fill (Sunday papers tend to have longer episodes with colour over here but let's ignore that for now) then why not apply the three-act structure to the daily? Give us a set up, a worsening and then a resolution/cliffhanger for the three panels. You'd have to write and structure the thing a week at a time for daily publication so it makes some sort of sense I guess. But it's doable. Hell, it would seem to me that an adventure strip would be EASIER. Comedy (well, GOOD comedy) is probably the hardest thing to pull off.

    Maybe posting on blogs isn't the route. What about sections on, let's say, news sites. Nobody would pay attention to a Wonder Woman newspaper strip, but having a daily Wonder Woman strip on Comic Book Resources or Newsarama would get read. Fit the content in with a site and you might get some traffic. A blog using that style would be dancing to the sound of crickets I fear...
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    This has been running in the Irish independent since my deceased grandmother was a teenager. Possibly longer.


    I never read it but would miss it's absence.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    This is only partially relevant but I've been reading so many Modesty Blaise anthologies lately that last night I had a dream about a Modesty Blaise caper.

    Modesty Blaise told long-form action stories and ran in newspapers 3-panels-a-day, every day, for more than 10,000 strips. Which goes some way to suggesting that the format is possible. It might help that, from what I've seen, the writing and art was consistently top notch.

    I've only ever read it in collections, so I can't tell you what the experience of reading it day-by-day in a newspaper was like, but it's pretty bloody good.
  5.  (8116.15)
    Thinking about it, I actually came to comics by way of the Spider-Man strip, which I think I first saw in the Electric Com pany magazine when I was a little kid. So there's that.
  6.  (8116.16)
    Modesty Blaise told long-form action stories and ran in newspapers 3-panels-a-day, every day, for more than 10,000 strips. Which goes some way to suggesting that the format is possible.

    Is/was. It wasn't unique, but it is a historical artifact now.
  7.  (8116.17)
    You know, all I've ever gotten here in the States even roughly in a dramatic not-funny funnies format is the fucking Phantom and goddamned Judge Parker.
    THEY BOTH SUCK, although the Phantom 2040 cartoon was a fine piece of scifi
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    Oi oi oi! Ease up there agentarsenic: the Phantom is phucking great (sort of). It's still in the papers here in Australia [there'd probably be a revolution if it wasn't] and the Australian publisher Frew still puts out a 32 page Phantom comic every week. They've been publishing (and numbering) since the 40s and alternate between new stories [usually translations of various Europian writers and artists] and reprints of the Lee Falk dailies. Obviously, the well has run dry there (Falk died a while ago) so they now reproduce the dailies as accurate (as possible) restorations from the earliest surviving artwork, like a museum really. Once again, though, we end up with a relic of a bygone era.

    Unfortunately, any newspaper in the world today would be as likely to publish a new adventure strip as they would to say "you know what? I think we've got enough ads in today's paper..."

    As for the 3 panel adventure: You really do need to grab the reader on Monday, but if they don't read the paper on Tuesday they still need to be able to follow it come Wednesday. And 6-8 weeks later, they need to (sort of) remember how it started and not become aware of the daily story telling formula. Writing good adventure comics is really hard - Kelley Puckett and Mike Parobeck nailed it with the Batman Adventures in the 90s, but that was quintessential 22 page/3 act/4 colour gold. Is the difficulty of the format the reason Travis Charest did one "widescreen" panel for Space girl, rather than 3 square ones? Has the increased sophistication of production of visual media made the format redundant?

    Lastly: compare Alex Raymond's first Flash Gordon strip with Jim Davis' first Garfield strip. Comedy comes across as the easier (much much much easier) option. Most of the time, it doesn't even have to be funny (apparently).
    • CommentAuthornilskidoo
    • CommentTimeApr 23rd 2010
    Artist Peter Palmiotti and I have been developing just this sort of thing over the past few months (when we both actually have the time for such)- namely, an adventure-style serial strip inspired by the newspaper comics of old (Flash Gordon, Mandrake the Magician, the Phantom, etc.). And we fully intend on launching it as a web-comic in coming months- hopefully sooner than later.
  8.  (8116.20)
    You know, if you don't mind chucking money at it, you do the strip as a banner ad on some of the content networks, swapping them out daily with the link leading back to the archives. Come to that, you could make it so that people could just grab the code from a central site use it on their blog/website/whatever as extra content.

    Or both.