Ruben Bolling just sent me this press release:
December 5, 2007
The Washington Post to cancel “Tom the Dancing Bug”
The Washington Post’s Weekend section has decided to drop Ruben Bolling’s weekly comic strip “Tom the Dancing Bug,” as of the end of the year. The Weekend section has a new editor, Tracy Grant, who said that it was canceled for space reasons, and that her staffers did not object.
Ruben Bolling is extremely disappointed: “I feel that the strip has a special relationship with the readers in DC. The Washington Post is one of my earliest clients, and when they took on the comic strip, no other daily newspaper was running it. They took a big chance on me, and I hope that it continues to pay off. I get tons of emails from Post readers, and at my last appearance at a DC bookstore, there was a line out the door.”
However, Bolling said that the decision to drop the strip is not irreversible. “Tracy Grant did say that the cancelation is not written in stone. If she comes to feel that it was a mistake, she would reinstate the comic.”
“Tom the Dancing Bug” is distributed by Universal Press Syndicate to about 50 newspapers, and also appears in Salon.com. See www.tomthedancingbug.com
Boy, how much more can the Post do for (rather to) us this week? Sunday they announced a shrunken Sunday comics section with smaller strips and Wizard of Id dropped, and now this. It makes me reconsider being a subscriber, I must say.
Ms. Grant's contact information should be firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, the Post is attempting to shrink to be interesting, and it's not working - literally half the reason I bother looking at the Weekend section is Tom the Dancing Bug (the other half is the museum review page since they dropped the stamps column years ago. Actually I read Eve Zibart's restaurant reviews too - and I really stopped paying attention to Weekend a year ago when they dropped their independent movie reviews in favor of rehashed Style section ones).
I was talking about this last night - why do newspapers offer their readers less and less and then act surprised when they lose readers? Why not offer more? Say an annual compilation of Cul de Sac Sunday strips in a collectible booklet? Or a full-spread cartoon map of DC? Make the comics section into a collectible comic book (and not reprint 1960s Spider-Man stories like the Examiner and Marvel did)? Or make it bigger and pay a cartoonist to stretch his imagination? Put some manga in the comics - something only available in the Post? Do something that people would like to have and keep and buy the paper for?