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“Doonesbury” Snarks Shrinking Comics, McSweeney’s Plans Newspaper

As more newspapers fail and money grows tight, the current “Doonesbury” storyline addresses the smaller and smaller sizes of comic strips in print.

As Gary Trudeau points out, nobody wants to make comics smaller — but it’s difficult to avoid as newspapers fight tooth and nail to stay afloat. But while papers continue their death spiral and the incredible shrinking comics page diminishes, publishers like DC Comics and McSweeney’s are actually pushing to bring back the full-page glory of comics from decades past.As DC Art Director Mark Chiarello told ComicsAlliance last week, “It makes me sad that the daily strip now are so tiny when you compare it to the history of the medium, and the size of things like [“Little Nemo” by Winsor McCay] that are so gorgeous.” Chiarello masterminded the recent launch of “Wednesday Comics,” a Sunday-sized comics page with 15 full-page, full-color superhero strips ranging from “Superman” to “Kamandi.”

Now Dave Eggers has announced that “McSweeney’s” is working on a prototype for a “new newspaper”:

“A lot of what we’re doing is resurrecting old things, like things from the last century that newspapers used to do, in terms of really using the full luxury of the broadsheet newspaper, with full color and all that space… making connections with large-form graphics and really enhancing the tactile experience of paper. You know, including a full-color comic section, for example, which of course was standard in newspapers years ago, when you’d have a full broadsheet Winsor McCay comic. So we’ll have a big, full-color comic section, and we’re also trying to emphasize what younger readers are looking for, what directly appeals to them.”

Could we be headed for renaissance in newspaper comics — at least on a niche level? Both ventures seem to be seeking what Eggers calls “a dedicated audience that can keep print journalism alive.” And while only time will tell whether DC and McSweeney’s fans are willing to shell out enough money for old-school comic strips to keep them profitable, fans of tangible comics should rejoice — and buy, buy, buy.

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