Doonesbury makes case for print, enrages Web comics

Doonesbury | Doonesbury’s Blowback
What happens to comics if newspapers go away?” a Twitter user asks Zonker in a Feb. 2 Doonesbury strip. Two blank panels follow. “Feel how empty your life became?” Zonker asks. “Stick with print, folks, this doesn’t have to happen,” Mike Doonesbury replies.

The strip has kicked off a meme among producers of Web comics, who are inserting art from their own work in the blank space:

There’s also discussion about reading Doonesbury on dead trees on the strip’s forum:

  • “The wonderful thing about print is that I can tear favorite strips from the paper and stick them on the refrigerator along with other vital reminders”
  • “If Doonesbury wants to survive the downfall of the local paper, it needs to fundamentally renew itself.”
  • One commenter thinks the fact that the characters are taking questions on Twitter is “the perfect punchline.”

It wouldn’t be the first time Doonesbury author Garry Trudeau has messed with readers about generational changes in the strip.

Trudeau told Emily Bazelon last year:

Everyone knows where print is headed, and most Web comics are struggling. With adroit merchandising, a couple of them have been profitable, but they don’t connect with readers in the same visceral way that traditional comics once did. Comics used to be central to popular culture, enormously influential. They were a daily habit we all had in common.

Related: Did anyone under 40 agonize over last week’s Doonesbury strips? | Trudeau: Strips about Alex Doonesbury becoming lead character are ‘a bit of a head fake’

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  • beaarthur

    LOL I have that comic on my desk in the newsroom, it has the blank spot in the middle. I might fill it in with something vindictive if I ever get out of the news biz.

  • David Stanford, Duty Officer

    As the Duty Officer at I thought I’d share the following, which I posted on our site in response to the Blowback comments on the February 2nd strip:

    Sometimes things really are what they seem. I checked with the home office, and the strip is nothing more than a simple gag about the state of newspapers. It was intended for the readers of the 1,100 daily and Sunday print editions that publish the strip. While understandably sentimental about his roots in print media, GBT was an enthusiastic, early adapter to digital platforms, creating three different CD-ROMS (1995), a web-based motion-capture video project (Duke2000), a milblog (2006), e-book editions of his anthologies, and of course, this website, launched in 1995, long before most webcomics were created. He first wrote about the social impact of computers, a favorite topic, in 1972.