'L.A. Times' Drops Daily 'Garfield' as the Comic Is Blasted and Praised
By Dave Astor
Published: January 05, 2005 12:50 PM ET
NEW YORK The Los Angeles Times dropped the daily version of "Garfield," the most widely distributed comic in syndication.
"Garfield" has received mixed reviews in recent years, but the Times is one of the few papers to ever dare pull it. Reader reaction? "We are getting complaints," said Jennifer James, a Times editorial aide, but she declined to reveal how many.
The Times dropped the daily "Garfield" effective two days ago -- while keeping the Sunday "Garfield" -- to make room for "Brevity," a new comic by Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry of United Media (E&P Online, Dec. 9).
"We're always trying to get some new talent in the comics pages," said James, who did not make the "Garfield" decision.
Gene Weingarten, a humor columnist for The Washington Post and Washington Post Writers Group, praised the Times decision during his weekly washingtonpost.com chat yesterday. He said the paper displayed "the kind of cojones missing in too many places" and described "Garfield" as "a strip produced by a committee, devoid of originality, devoid of guts, a strip cynically DESIGNED to be inoffensive and bad, on the theory that public tastes are insipid. Now we need others to follow suit. Like the Post."
When asked for a response to Weingarten's comments and the Times action, Universal Press Syndicate Director of Communications Kathie Kerr said today: "Our understanding is that 'Garfield' ran in a children's section of the Los Angeles Times. When a feature is dropped on pages which are predominantly read by children, those young readers are less likely to complain or demand its return."
She added that Jim Davis is "hands on" with his comic, and concluded: "'Garfield' is the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world, and that speaks volumes to its popularity. More than 2,700 newspapers worldwide publish it, and, in the last year, more than 50 newspaper clients were added. It's an easy-to-get laugh a day and that endears it to millions of children and adults worldwide."