I apparently live under some kind of boulder.  Until reader Kurt Griffin wrote in, I totally missed Gary Trudeau shitting on the web.  February 2′s Doonesbury poses the question, “What happens to comics if newspapers go away?”  Panels two and three are left blank.  Panel four delivers the sucker punch, “Feel how empty your life became? If only for a second?”

Yes, yes, we know. The web, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.  Ugh.

The idea that comics can only be properly enjoyed in print is laughable, especially when the ones usually making this argument are syndicated cartoonists whose work regularly appears on their syndicates websites!  I will concede that reading comics in print and online are much different experiences.  But I don’t think one is more rich than the other.

The funny thing is, by leaving those two panels wide open, Gary has created the perfect platform for a webcomic meme.  A number of cartoonists have decided to fill those empty panels with their own punchlines.

Thanks again to Kurt for sending this my way.  I can’t wait to see those blank panels filled with more webcomic goodness!

  • oiojes

    Hey. I’m an old fart and I read you.

  • http://ypcomic.com Jamie Noguchi

    I should clarify, Cartoonist Olds.

  • Firework the Comic

    Hi Jamie.

    I, as you know, am a journalist.

    Print is dead, Doonesbury. The New York Times’s 950 million market cap is pocket change to any big internet name. Ad revenue in papers and magazines is tanked. They all have iPad apps now, and no one cares. There is no “stick with print”. Look at some graphs of ad revenue, readership, Doonesbury. Gawd newspapers are not going to feed YOU anymore than they will feed me.

    “Stick with print”? Are you kidding me? Stick with outdated? Stick with dead trees? Print is just not good enough. It wasn’t then, but it was the only way back then. It was never good enough.

    I don’t think the web is good enough either. I think it’s closer, but the cieling is just going to get higher. Comics will keep
    developing: I’ve seen people use awesome animated effects in their webcomics (the beginning of Ellie Starling’s Very Long Walk, Homestuck, etc) and I imagine that in a few years we will all have glasses free 3D devices we read comics on and they will ALL BE ANIMATED.

    Print is dead.

    To the world.

  • http://twitter.com/DrezzRodriguez Drezz Rodriguez

    I think we’re reading way too far into this. Gary has always professed a love for the print medium, and I think that’s what he was getting at – a loss of something nostalgic and tangible. I don’t think he was thumbing his nose at webcomics and comics delivered digitally. I think he feels that if print dies, a little bit of us (comics readers and authors) dies too. That’s it – nothing as nefarious as web sucks, print rules.

  • http://profiles.google.com/chaddai.fouche Chaddaï Fouché

    I disagree that all comics will be animated… That already exists and it’s called a cartoon !

    Just like movies didn’t replace pictures, animation won’t conquer all comics. Not that there’s no place for some animation in webcomics, I welcome the experiments and some are really nice but I don’t see it as a “superior” art form or an “evolution”.

    Enthusiasts are perpetually predicting the disappearance of some part of the current mediums to make place for the wild new thing : another exemple is how interactive (or audio) ebooks were to replace books really soon now… for years. Sometimes they’re right but never as fast or as completely as promised.

    Note that I’m not speaking of print here : I completely agree that unless something disastrous happen paper will have a dwindling place in our societies, though I’m not sure how long and how complete this will be. I’m speaking of the form of content we’ll see in the future.

  • Evie

    I personally thought he was being sarcastic. So people would laugh with him at how empty their lives aren’t? He has his own “home” on Slate. I bet more people read him online than in print and I bet he knows it.

  • FMF

    Phht love the one with Linkara in the middle just smiling.To be honest though,if he was trying to rip the internet a new one he wouldn’t get far.When in come to content,web comics tend to deliver a lot more then a 4 panel new comic would.Actually I find 3 panel soul far more entertaining then news paper comics.I guess some cave men were afraid of the wheel too.

  • Kevin

    I agree with Evie, Trudeau has made jokes about this in the past, one I can’t find making a joke about not having to get news print on your hands…it’s not an attack on web comics, it’s just fooling around.

  • Oldmanwinter

    “The web, you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.”

    Ha. I read that twice before I got it. I read all my ‘newspaper comics’ online too! Take that Trudeau!

  • http://www.facebook.com/pierski Steven Napierski

    Syndicated newspaper cartoonist look at webcomic artists like strike scabs. We’re doing the same jobs and we’re doing them cheaper.

  • http://ypcomic.com Jamie Noguchi

    I’m a scab!!!!

  • reynard61

    When I discovered my first webcomic (Richard Holbrook’s Kevin and Kell) in 1998, I was utterly thrilled. Then I began to discover other webcomics and by the middle of 1999 I had given up reading newspaper comics altogether. Why? Because, with a few exceptions, most newspaper-only comics are crap! The Syndicates that own most of the newspaper comics exert such tight control over the content of their “product” that the artists who draw them aren’t allowed to grow and improve their art.

    Also, one of the things that I like about webcomics is that they don’t have to pander to a specific audience. Sure, I like reading family-friendly comics like the above-mentioned Kevin and Kell, but I also like more experimental comics like Tom Siddell’s Gunnerkrigg Court and Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak and Adult-themed comics like Randy Milholland’s Something*Positive and Jeph Jacques’ Questionable Content — and you just aren’t going to find those in any regular newspaper. (Okay, *maybe* in an underground/alternative or campus newspaper.) Why? Because the artists are basically writing and drawing for themselves! We’re just lucky enough that they’ve chosen to let us see their work too!

    So, yeah; Trudeau can make all the fun he wants of webcomics (assuming that that was indeed his intention), but as far as I’m concerned webcomics are the better long-term bet when it comes to getting one’s storytelling art before the public eye.

  • http://twitter.com/hauntedculture Beyla

    I don’t know bout that, Zonk’s gesturing to the url for doonebury’s site hovering at the edge of the blank space. If anything, I immediately saw this strip as Gary not having the time to do four panels with full backgrounds that day.

  • BlueSaved

    Hm, to be fair, based on your description of the comic strip it sounds like Trudeau was just defending his view on the value of newspaper comic strips. He wasn’t really talking about web comics at all, so I don’t know if he meant any offense. Then again, I suppose not mentioning web comics could be considered an insult…

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