Comic Strips and Shrinkage….

It’s that time again for another comic strip syndication submission! Family Pants started as a comic strip, then evolved into an animated short series (technically an animated comic strip) then eventually grew into a full blown DVD! Now, after the incredible amount of work of making the DVD, I’m back to my first love, comic strips.

This go around, I’m combining what I learned making longer animated content, the continuing story line, with the small venue of the comic strip.

Traditionally, comic strips were part of a long continuing story line. It promoted reader loyalty. for if you wanted to know what happened to Flash Gordon, you’d better buy and read the newspaper publishing him! Comics long ago had a depth and complexity to them that readers could sink their teeth into. Big glorious artwork and deep rich story lines… even for the ridiculously silly strips!

Working at King Features, I was lucky to raid their “morgue” files during my lunch hours and pour over Popeye strips from the thirties. I only knew Popeye from Famous Studios’ cartoons, which I admired for nice animation, but was bored stiff by the story lines. E. C. Segar’s work, which the cartoons were based on, was amazing! Funny, exciting and even adventurous! Even more amazing was the fact that this really old stuff, aside from the occasional politically incorrect gag, seemed so contemporary!

I’ve submitted Family Pants a few times to the syndicates but never as a continuity strip. This is my next experiment.

But what happened to comic strip continuity?

It seems to me that the comic strip pages shrunk, not only in size but also importance. Most people I know joke, “Does anyone even READ those things anymore?” upon hearing my love for comic strips. Why did they shrink anyway? It’s like asking which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did they shrink, then lose importance? Were they losing popularity and shrunk by newspaper editors as a result?

Working at King Features, hearing things in the hallway, and just simply thinking about it, I’ve come up with two possibilities:

1) The most popular conspiracy theory is that newspaper editors looking for extra revenue, shrank the comics page to make room for extra space they could sell to advertisers. Why spend money on comics, when they could make money on ad space?

2) A less aggressive idea is that simply newspaper editors cannot cut any strip without a mountain of letters from readers. Think of it, you can’t have just “Garfield” and “Doonesbury”, without “Beetle Bailey” and “Blondie”. You need ALL of them. The only way to get all of it in there is to half their size.

With less space to work, artists and writers cannot create engaging stories. There’s no room for detailed artwork or even interesting dialog. You’ll be lucky to have enough room for a one liner and stick figure artwork. With THAT kind of material, it’s no wonder people stopped reading comic strips. Not to mention the plethora of sexier media out there to paw at our attention.

So in a few weeks I’ll re-vamp my website at my attempt at a continuity strip, with lots of silly humorous stuff like man-nibbles, man fighting bears and general pandemonium.


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4 Responses to “Comic Strips and Shrinkage….”

  1. V.E.G. Says:

    Popeye was in the theaters from 1933 to 1957. Paramount Studios closed the cartoon department in 1967 due to Paramount was bought by an Austrian immigrant Karl Georg “Charles” Bluhdorn.

  2. joe verl Says:

    Whose tinapaY is this!

    • familypants Says:

      Not sure if those comments were spam or not, but could be Philippine for “Whose stuff is this” and “Unknown poor thing”.
      I’m hoping they’re compliments!

  3. joe verl Says:

    unknown ka naman

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