The Texas Star-Telegram wrote up a piece by David House that any new or potential comic strip creators should be warned about. This essay seems to suggest that the newspaper industry alone is responsible for all comic readership. House pats the paper on the back for doing so well at finding such a “diverse readership” he also goes on to explain their survey process by which they decide which comic strips stay and which get cut.
Their survey conclusion? “Nearly every feature draws significant readership, generating across-the-board strength that carries an unwritten warning: Don’t mess with this.” A thinly veiled statement that the newspaper comics pages will remain stale and homogenized indefinitely. He may as well have told all new artists that you haven’t even a remote chance of getting your work into their pages.
After mentioning the strips that came in at the bottom of their survey House writes, “We don’t know for sure why those strips lost ground, but we do know they’re part of a great newspaper tradition passed along by generations of readers, editors and publishers.” It’s very telling that he didn’t include comics creators as part of the so called “great tradition”.
So, newspapers alone create comics readership and they’re not allowing any new comics into their publication. Wow. This is nothing short of a smack in the face of anyone trying to come up with a new strip for publication. This attitude, which is prevalent throughout the print industry, is exactly why web comics are so important to this art form.
Newspapers don’t want creativity, they don’t want innovation, they don’t want anything new. So adverse to change are the comics pages in newspapers that the comic strips they cling to are beginning to outlive their creators. The cartooning art form needs web comics. On the web new ideas and new strips are flourishing. The comics industry is well over due for an overhaul and I think the web is where we’ll see the reinvention of a once great, interesting, and fun form of storytelling.