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’

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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