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November 11, 2005

The Next Stage in the Funny Page

Manga is coming to U.S. funny pages:

"Doonesbury" and "Peanuts," make way for "manga." Come January, the Sunday funnies of several major North American newspapers will have doe-eyed women in frilly outfits, effeminate long-haired heroes and other trademark images of the Japanese comic style.

The reason? Newspaper editors want to attract more young readers. A study released earlier this year by the Carnegie Corporation put the age of newspaper readers at 53 and climbing — hardly a recipe for circulation growth. [And the rest of the industry numbers ain't reassuring either]

The outfit, Universal Press Syndicate, is gonna start things small. Just test the waters with two American made manga:
"Van Von Hunter," by Ron Kaulfersch and Mike Schwark, is a horror spoof about a warrior and his female sidekick who dress in Gothic-inspired costumes and are on a mission to fight evil.

The quirky "Peach Fuzz" explores conflicting views of reality. It depicts 9-year-old Amanda's desire to become friends with her pet ferret, Peach, who harbors delusions of being a pampered, veil-donning princess.

Okay, those sound harmless. Not that crazy raped-by-space-alien-tentacles-and-evil-tree-roots manga. Quite a relief. Call me a prude, but I, for one, feel quite strongly there’s little room for tentacle rape in newspaper comic strips, even if tastefully done. (Been getting racy enough lately as it is, what with all the bed-hopping that silver fox Mary Worth's been up to. And Rex Morgan, M.D.? Have you read it lately? Sex Organ M.D. is more like it.)

To get a head start, you can find strips of Van Von Hunter here. And ladies, a little info on that adorable Peach Fuzz here.

For those of you depressed by what this augers, grumbling and mumbling yourself into some deep, funny-page-nostalgic-funk, Slate did a nice slide-show essay earlier this week on the best strip ever, Calvin and Hobbes. Read and remember.

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posted by Dr. Reo Symes at 01:00 AM

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