After you’ve made your way through the updates to the Swift Boat stories, including William Rood’s account in the Chicago Tribune and Maureen Dowd’s column in the Times, let’s look at the funnies – while we can. Some papers are cutting back on comic strips to save space and make more room for ads. In doing so, they’re finding that there’s a very loyal core of readers for strips like Mary Worth and Judge Parker. (I thought the only paper in the world that still ran Mary Worth was the Toledo Blade because the cartoon’s creator, Allen Saunders, was from there.) Which makes me wonder – what has happened to some of the old strips that I used to read when I was a kid, like Dondi and Dick Tracy? Not that I miss them; Dondi was a syrupy soap opera, and Dick Tracy was basically J. Edgar Hoover’s agit-prop – without the dress. Itwas dropped from The Blade when the editors determined that the story line was getting too violent for the funny pages. Ironically, it was replaced by Doonesbury, which was relegated to the op-ed page during the Reagan Administration and to make room for the likes of Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft.
Some of the best strips have gone by their creators’ choice: Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County, The Far Side all demonstrated the best of humor and cutting social commentary. Fortunately they’ve been replaced by some great new strips like The Boondocks and Zits. That makes up for having to put up with The Family Circus, Mallard Fillmore, and Rose Is Rose.