Funny thing about the comics….

familycircus.jpg Jeffrey Zaslow writes in the Wall Street Journal (that link will work for non-subscribers) about how old comic strips are trying to stay fresh. Apparently the “Family Circus” above is one such example. Others include, according to Zaslow: Blondie’s daughter, Cookie, is dressing like Britney Spears…. Lately, Little Orphan Annie has landed in a ...

By , a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
590360_1668155318_familycircus2.jpg
590360_1668155318_familycircus2.jpg

Jeffrey Zaslow writes in the Wall Street Journal (that link will work for non-subscribers) about how old comic strips are trying to stay fresh. Apparently the "Family Circus" above is one such example. Others include, according to Zaslow:

Blondie's daughter, Cookie, is dressing like Britney Spears.... Lately, Little Orphan Annie has landed in a North Korean jail and foiled terrorist plots.... Dick Tracy chases corporate crooks, including one with a trophy wife in continual need of plastic surgery. Prince Valiant might be living in the sixth century, but his current storyline has an ecological theme designed to resonate with 21st-century readers. Blondie uses a laptop in her catering business.... "Nancy," a character who has been around since 1933, watches "The O.C." on TV and recently booted her friend Sluggo from a competition a lot like "American Idol." Her Aunt Fritzi drives a sport-utility vehicle and loves such country-music stars as Faith Hill and Shania Twain....

familycircus.jpg

familycircus.jpg

Jeffrey Zaslow writes in the Wall Street Journal (that link will work for non-subscribers) about how old comic strips are trying to stay fresh. Apparently the “Family Circus” above is one such example. Others include, according to Zaslow:

Blondie’s daughter, Cookie, is dressing like Britney Spears…. Lately, Little Orphan Annie has landed in a North Korean jail and foiled terrorist plots…. Dick Tracy chases corporate crooks, including one with a trophy wife in continual need of plastic surgery. Prince Valiant might be living in the sixth century, but his current storyline has an ecological theme designed to resonate with 21st-century readers. Blondie uses a laptop in her catering business…. “Nancy,” a character who has been around since 1933, watches “The O.C.” on TV and recently booted her friend Sluggo from a competition a lot like “American Idol.” Her Aunt Fritzi drives a sport-utility vehicle and loves such country-music stars as Faith Hill and Shania Twain….

The more macro trend Zaslow identifies is the barrier to entry that keeping old strips on the funny pages presents:

Other young cartoonists complain that cosmetic makeovers in these “dinosaur strips” are masking recycled plots and gags. They say a comic should die when its creator does. “There’s all this new talent not making it on comics pages because newspapers are running Blondie and Nancy,” says Stacy Curtis, a 33-year-old editorial cartoonist for the Times of Northwest Indiana, in Munster, who has had three strip ideas rejected by syndicates. The half-dozen major syndicates receive 10,000 or so submissions a year from cartoonists. They pick altogether about 12 to 15 to launch. Some syndicates defend their reliance on old strips by saying profits from these popular old war horses allow them to invest in the promotion of new comics…. Though many old gag comics such as “Blondie” and “Beetle Bailey” are thriving, storyline strips are an endangered species. People don’t read newspapers with the regularity they once did, so they don’t follow the daily ins and outs of heroines such as red-headed reporter Brenda Starr. And given the fast-paced nature of TV and movies today, people have little patience for a 14-week storyline that plays out with “the speed of a dripping faucet,” says Mary Schmich, the Chicago Tribune columnist who writes “Brenda Starr.” Ms. Schmich hopes that strips like hers will gain new life because people can now read dozens of days at a time online.

What the Internet taketh away, the Internet also giveth. Which makes this as good a time as any to recommend Chris Muir’s Day By Day strip.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he is the co-director of the Russia and Eurasia Program. Twitter: @dandrezner

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.