calvin and hobbes

As a journalism major, the fact that newspapers are dying is deeply saddening — as a comic fan, not so much. Newspaper comic strips have been stagnant and boring for years, with the same old repetitive Garfield, Cathy and Dilbert dominating the printed page.

To save money, newspapers are pushing out comics and cutting down on pages. The ones that remain are unfunny and geared toward the average local newspaper reader — older people with a low tolerance for the new and different.

Many people yearning for the golden age of comics, when artists and writers weren’t afraid to push the envelope and actually make the readers laugh, have turned to web-comics, which are becoming more and more popular. Web-comics are competing and overtaking syndicated comics in terms of moneymaking as they churn out T-shirts and other merchandise to capitalize on inside jokes.

Many syndicated cartoonists complain about the new paradigm of financially successful comics, calling the creators of web-comics “salesmen” rather than artists.
These print cartoonists are hypocrites. “Peanuts” made money because Charles Shultz sold his images to be used as marketing tools for insurance companies and merchandisers. “Garfield” merchandise is ubiquitous.

The reason web-cartoonists make money off their merchandise is because people want it. Bill Watterson never allowed Calvin and Hobbes to be used as a marketing tool, which led to a huge bootleg industry of stickers of his character urinating on various logos. It’s best for people to license their characters and make money off it rather than allow bottom feeders to illegally use images for profit.

“Dinosaur Comics” is one of the best web-comics out there. It’s too bad this name can also be applied to the vast majority of print cartoonists. They’re scared of the new model, and of changing. They’re much like their readers — afraid of change.

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