Why are newspaper comics so terrible?

The once-proud medium has devolved into inane, artless garbage. This is why it happened — and what can be done to turn it around again.

Terrible Toons
(Image credit: (Illustration by Sarah Eberspacher | Images courtesy Facebook.com))

"As Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money was, it should never be forgotten that the comics page is where the readers are," said Berkeley Breathed, creator of the beloved newspaper comic Bloom County, in a 2003 interview with Salon.

It's been more than a decade since that interview, and the media landscape has changed considerably, marked by a sharp decline in newspaper subscriptions. But the basic message hasn't changed. In theory, the newspaper comics page still has fascinating potential: a blend of artwork, humor, and editorial that's accessible to children and adults alike. It's the medium that introduced many of America's most beloved pop-cultural icons — from Superman to Charlie Brown to Little Orphan Annie — to a mass audience, and dozens of strips still reach an audience of millions every day.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us