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Artist claims some comics kaput

The comic section in newspapers has become a common feature. Newspapers will support a multitude of comics, including classics such as “Peanuts” and “Garfield.” However, some readers think these supposed “funnies” have overstayed their welcome.

“The facts of these things: ‘A,’ never die, and ‘B,’ are almost borderline mentally challenged when it comes to the intellectual level,” Andrew McGinn said. “I torture myself every day. I cannot not read ‘The Family Circus.’ I have to see everyday how dumb it is.”

McGinn, 33, is an entertainment writer for the Springfield News-Sun. He, along with cartoonist David Neitzke, created a graphic novel to show their opinion of the state of newspaper comic strips.

“The Legacy” is about Chas Brown and how he inherited his deceased father’s comic series, “Simple Pleasures.” But Brown said he hates these mindless cartoons. So through a series of bad-taste jokes, Brown sets out to destroy the comic strip.

McGinn described himself as a “real satirical kind of guy.” He would feed his comedic desires with acts such as musician Frank Zappa and the TV series “The Simpsons.” It would be training for McGinn to find a joke anywhere.

“Here’s my big thing,” he said. “It’s really hard for me to take anything seriously.”

Through “The Legacy,” McGinn and Neitzke give their own opinion on the fate of comics. The graphic novel is a satire on how these strips are still kicking long after their prime, or how they are put on poor life support after the comic’s original creator has passed away.

“A lot of these strips have been reduced to pretty much the equivalent of a family heirloom,” McGinn said. “The original creator is gone. Let it go. Let this thing die peacefully. But instead readers get sentimentally attached to these things and don’t let it go.”

An example McGinn brought up was Charles Schulz’s “Peanuts.” Schulz passed away in February 2000, though reused strips of his comic are posted in newspapers today.

“That’s space that could be taken by, say, the next Gary Larson, ‘The Far Side,’ or Bill Watterson who did ‘Calvin and Hobbes,'” McGinn said. “And I just don’t see the next wave of talent ever getting their big break because of these legacy strips.”

Neitzke, however, said it wasn’t that the strips were never good. At their peak, a lot of comics had influential power.

“I was a huge fan of ‘Peanuts,'” Neitzke said as he talked about being influenced by comics at the age of 5. “Ever since then, all I wanted to do was be a cartoonist.”

But after many years, Neitzke said the strips today are fighting against the inevitable.

“I do agree with Andy’s (McGinn) assessment that nowadays it is a wasteland. There are a lot of extinct idiosyncratic strips,” he said.

McGinn will also be leading a discussion about comics at the Barnes & Noble on South Campus on Friday. It will include McGinn making fun of comic strips, their importance to newspapers and if they will survive after the death of newspapers.

The discussion is open to people willing to debate the state of comics, for those who see funnies that have run out of comedic fuel, or comics that are kept hard at work in their elderly years because they are deemed somewhat of a legacy.

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