The comic strip has been a part of the newspapers history since the early 20th century, and was originally inspired by German comic magazines. According to Lambiek,
“Unlike today, when strips have very restricted space in newspapers, the early comics were often a full page and in brilliant colors. There were a lot more newspapers back then, often several in a city, and they all competed for readers. Especially newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst played an unequaled role in the development of newspaper strips. Big colorful comics supplements attracted crowds of devoted fans, and comic strips really became the ‘face’ of specific newspapers. Comic artists who contributed strips considered themselves more like newspapermen, and their creations were owned by the newspaper.”
Which has lead many comic writers to move from print to, you guessed it, the Internet.
As Timothy Sexton notes in a piece he wrote for Associated Content, it has been over twenty years since the last new newspaper comic was introduced and the problem isn’t that comic artists don’t exist, it’s that the format doesn’t allow them to create. The emphasis has shifted over the years to give less and less room to newspaper comics, to take them from color to black and white and to de-emphasis the role of comic strip producers to the overall brand of the newspapers they produce for.
As newspapers search for their new role in the market, the question arises as to whether comics will find there place in print or will these old staples of the newsroom migrate, once and for all, to the web.