Letter: Daily Comic Strips Are Still a Vibrant Art Form

Do you really believe what you print, Metro Pulse? Specifically that "the contemporary daily newspaper comics section is a graveyard?"  Not just "dying, [but] already dead, a putrefying mass…?" ["The Wild Blue Yonder," Splash Panel, by Matthew Everett, Feb. 2, 2012]

That's some big talk coming from a weekly that seems to openly acknowledge that they have yet to perfect their own funnies pages.

But I don't mean this to be another letter to the editor to gripe about the cartoons you publish in your back pages. I like Mild Abandon and I will continue to pour over whatever weird doodle and punchline concoctions you can come up with. I enjoy comics whenever and wherever I can find them. In fact never have I enjoyed them more since I moved to Knoxville last year.

Even on the days when I can't make it over to Organized Play to get my comic book fix, I know where to look for quality illustration and humor: The Knoxville News Sentinel. Every day this city's daily newspaper prints over a page and a half of comics new and old, funny and lame, both doodled and delicately rendered. And here's what is really incredible: They print them all in full color. Every day. It is truly a beautiful sight to unfold upon my kitchen table and consistently brightens my mood whether or not I find the panels laugh-out-loud hilarious or merely bemusing.

Now given the general state of affairs besieging the newspaper industry, all that color seems like quite an indulgence. And I'm sure the newspaper editors, the ones Mr. Everett feels are so out of touch, do understand just how quickly they could cut this cornucopia of color down to a bland, black and white, half-page for the sake of their bottom line. And yet miraculously they don't (or perhaps haven't yet).

In this day and age, the News Sentinel maintains a strong patronage for a tradition of art and beauty that Mr. Everett claims to appreciate. It makes this reader wonder how he could be so disparaging in a city that seems to stand alone in its commitment to the craft. But then again he can't see me. I am part of the audience he has trouble imagining "for this sad, withered back page of the standard daily newspaper." A sad, withered back page that includes many fresh stars, among them Bizarro, Cul de Sac, and Get Fuzzy, a consistently funny creation by Knoxville's own native son, Darby Conley. Where else in America can you open a paper and actually see the red in the flame on the ‘82 World's Fair shirts worn by the characters in Get Fuzzy?

Open your eyes, Mr. Everett. Your article certainly does make me question the judgement of some newspaper editors, but it's not those of Knoxville's daily.

Robert Ries

Knoxville