Monday, February 08, 2010

Honey, the LAT Shrunk the Comics -- I Mean, REALLY Shrunk the Comics

Turns out "Cathy" is even more annoying when shrunk down another 15%.

The Los Angeles Times is trying the patience of comics readers, some of whom are still smarting over the paper's last strip switcheroo (which led to the loss of the popular "Sally Forth"). Now, the paper's new size has made it even tougher to read the comics -- which have been dramatically shrunk down -- all together.

The Los Angeles Times' comments blog noted that the shrunken comics have elicited more complaints than just about anything else (although the paper has yet to address the issue). A few samplings:

Maureen wrote: Regarding your shrunken comics: Presumably you want to retain your subscribers, and I would guess that a lot of them are getting a little older and having a little more trouble focusing on the small print. Perhaps you should provide us with magnifying glasses?

C.J. wrote: I applaud your reducing the physical dimensions of the paper: the smaller page makes it easier to read at the breakfast table. But the commensurate reduction in the dimensions of the comic-strip panels -- already reduced more than they are meant to be in reproduction -- is verging on the absurd. Any smaller and I'll be forced to use the magnifying glass that came with my 2-volume OED.

People are particularly peeved that with the shrunken comics, the paper has plenty of room to run that huge house ad smack in the middle of the strips.

What's up with that house ad? It never changes -- promoting the "Hero Complex" blog every day last week. Plus, it's strangely just dropped right in the middle of the comics, as opposed to the bottom. AND, most puzzling, it's a missed opportunity to either enlarge some comics, or even add a few that were dropped during the last comics downsize.

I wonder if "Doonesbury" creator Garry Trudeau has seen what his strip now looks like in the Times. Trudeau used to ask that his strip appear larger that most in newspapers -- and most, including the LAT, once upon a time obliged. But the LAT shrunk "Doonesbury" down during its last comics revamp -- and now that it has been made even smaller, the strip is nearly impossible to read.

The paper has addressed the other reader complaints about the crossword puzzle -- which was relocated to the center of a page, preventing readers from folding the paper in half in order to do the puzzle. Oh, they heard about that one! (The crossword puzzle complaint earned a post on the LAT's Readers Representative blog.)

News about the Los Angeles Times' recent production changes had been focused on the paper's early press time (thanks to its new deal to publish the Wall Street Journal on LAT presses) and the new "LATExtra" section created to cobble together late breaking stories. (So far, LATExtra has read more like the return of the California/Local section.)

But as part of the decision to also shave an inch from the paper's width (moving from 12 inches to 11 inches wide), the LAT has also trimmed down some of its features -- hence the tough-to-read comics.

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