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Lee’s papers become company-wide uniform comics

Recently we mentioned changes to some Lee Enterprises newspapers that hinted at a company-wide change in their comic book pages, though we were reluctant to report it without confirmation. See here and here. But over the past few years, when we’ve seen a change in a channel’s diary, especially with syndicated content, it usually meant it was a notice that the rest of the channel would follow.

Starting Tuesday, you’ll notice significant changes to the comic, puzzle, and advice columns in the Post-Dispatch. Our company, Lee Enterprises, is moving to a uniform set of offerings for its newspapers [emphasis added], with new bands and columns that you usually haven’t seen in the Post-Dispatch. The company’s goal with these changes is to ensure that it can still devote resources to local news coverage and strong journalism.

The past few years—in fact, the past two decades—have shown the newspaper industry the critical need to continually change and evolve.

But it also brought exciting opportunities to reach new audiences…

So changes are coming for readers of Lee Enterprises newspapers, which, according to Wikipedia, “publishes 77 daily newspapers in 26 states.”

The change will be drastic for Post-Dispatch readers. If I read the Waco Tribune-Herald statement correctly, and it continues, the Post-Dispatch daily comics page will drop from 34 to 10 comics!
The Post-Dispatch published an incredible, at that time, two-page daily comic.

Not only will St. Louis lose all 15 King Features Syndicate comics, but about half of Andrews McMeel’s remaining comics will be lost. With the remaining AMS strips mixed in and out:

From Monday to Saturday, that will mean half a page of comics and half a page of puzzles in the Daily section, with a new mix of advice columns and entertainment and lifestyle coverage. Sundays will feature four full pages of printed comics, plus columns and puzzles.

The mix of comics will also change. We will lose a few long-running bands, such as “Family Circus”, “Beetle Bailey” and “Blondie”. We will no longer run the bridge column and we will feature a new advice column (“Ask Amy”) to replace “Dear Abby”.

Some of your favorite comics remain, such as “Garfield”, “Pickles”, and “Pearls Before Swine”. The Dr. Keith Roach column will remain on weekdays, and the Carolyn Hax column, which already operates in the Sunday Life section, will now also operate on Saturdays in Everyday. Horoscopes will still work Monday through Saturday. And you’ll notice new comics, such as “Peanuts”, “Close to Home”, and “For Better or For Worse”.

You can see the range of new options from Tuesday, when we move to the new daily pages, and next Sunday.

Peanuts and For Better or For Worse receive examples of “new” funny.

The Sunday Comics published 20 comics, 11 of which were King Features features.

Of course, they offer electronic options to appease readers:

In fact, we’ll be offering many more on other platforms. Our e-edition, an e-replica of the newspaper, will bring you several more comics – one full extra page Monday through Saturday and four full extra pages on Sundays.

In addition, we will launch the “GoComics” platform on our website (stltoday.com) from Tuesday. This will provide our subscribers with access to nearly 500 daily comics, over 30 number puzzles and 15 syndicated columns, including “Dear Abby”.

Guess the folks at Post-Dispatch are bracing for not a bit of a backlash.

Well, once again to the breach, dear friends. Now we change the columns of comics, puzzles and tips.

The hard economic facts within the Lee Enterprises newspaper chain are as follows: Each week, our page designers created over 1,200 custom comic book and puzzle pages for 74 individual newspapers. We prefer to invest these working hours and resources in news gathering.

We have therefore renegotiated agreements with the syndication services that provide these features. And we standardized the results. Our regional design centers will now produce 30-40 versions of the comic section per week.

Every day from Monday to Saturday, you will see half a page of comics and half a page of puzzles in the newspaper. We’ve kept your old favorites, from Garfield to Pearls Before Swine. Ask Amy will lend her advice, but you won’t see Dear Abby in the paper anymore.

On Sundays, you’ll still receive four pages of full-color comics, although some of the individual strips have changed. There will be a page full of puzzles.