Wednesday, October 27, 2010

L.A. Times Publisher Downsizes Comics Yet Again

The L.A. Times has added a second ad strip to its comics page -- which means dumping two more strips.

And once again, the Times has opted to drop two newish, contemporary strips ("Brewster Rockit" and "Home and Away") while keeping moldy, legacy strips like "Dennis the Menace," "Blondie" and "Family Circus."

Seriously. On the one hand, the paper knows its aging audience -- 60+ readers that grew up with "Blondie." But at the same time, it's once again sending a message to younger readers: Don't bother.

Here's the interesting part: The decision on which strips to drop came directly from L.A. Times publisher Eddy Hartenstein, who helped make the final call on which strips to dump.

The L.A. Times' Readers Representative explained that "Brewster Rockit" and the recently dropped "Rex Morgan M.D." (the paper's still hearing about that move) are now available on the L.A. Times website:

Because of a reorganization of the section, which included the addition of a second advertisement, two more strips have been removed: “Home and Away” and “Brewster Rockit: Space Guy!” Earlier this month, “Cathy” retired and “Rex Morgan, M.D.” was cut to make room for the addition of the KenKen puzzle.

However, there also has been an addition this week on the comics front. For the first time, a selection of comics is available on “Rex Morgan” and “Brewster Rockit” are among them. So are others that readers ask about, such as “Mary Worth” and “Sally Forth.” (But readers have been disappointed to discover that “Home and Away” is not included in the prebundled package to which The Times subscribes. However, the strip is available on the website of its syndicate.)

As of Tuesday morning, about 15 people, most of them “Brewster Rockit” fans, had e-mailed The Times to protest the cuts.

Hartenstein is now part of a four-member panel now running Tribune in the wake of Randy Michaels' departure -- but still had time to deem "Brewster Rockit" unworthy of print!

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