El Paso Times refreshes comic lineup based on reader input, changing tastes

As I get older, I have developed a stronger appreciation for the glory days of the beloved comic strip. Some comic characters are pop culture stars, complete with theme parks and motion pictures.

As a youngster, the funnies helped me develop regular reading habits. The best part was this reading was done purely for fun.

The business of comics pages was also a joy for me when I became an editor. At least once a year, the national comics vendors, great men and women who devoted their careers to peddling syndicated content, would show up in my newsroom.

Tim Archuleta
Tim Archuleta

We would always take a break for lunch to catch up on industry gossip, remember a great who passed away or chat about the latest up-and-comer who was helping diversify the comic content.

The sales folks would leave me with folders of new comics to consider buying. They stressed the comic pages had to change with the times.

I made a practice of trying out a few, fresh faces (always at an introductory rate). After all these years, the El Paso Times is joining an effort to refresh its comics pages based on reader input and a desire to adjust to the changing tastes of comic fans.

On Oct. 2, the El Paso Times and elpasotimes.com will roll out a fresh lineup of daily and Sunday comics. The new comic offers are launching across the larger USA TODAY Network.

Our readers will find some old favorites and new funnies. And, if you're a devout comics reader, I'm sure some of the latest offerings will become favorites with time.

The beauty of this form of reader content is it survived by embracing change.

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Why the shift? Reader input helped drive changes

Our comics' page remodel was influenced by seeking fresh input from our audience. We took the time to survey our readers and acted upon what we learned.

These changes do not impact the El Paso Times' subscription rates. We will offer the same comics in our eNewspaper, which also offers additional news coverage.

Our readers can find lots of additional comics by visiting elpasotimes.com/comics.

The good news: Our favorite soldier, red-bearded Viking and swine are sticking around

Our most popular comics will continue to anchor our new daily and Sunday lineup. Those comics include (daily) Hagar the Horrible, Marmaduke, Family Circus, Peanuts, Baby Blues, Zits, Beetle Baily, Garfield, Blondie, Pickles, Pearls Before Swine, For Better or For Worse and Crabgrass.

Here are the Sunday classics that will remain: Peanuts, Zits, Blondie, For Better or For Worse, Crabgrass, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, Pickles and The Family Circus.

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Welcome — Our new faces on Sunday

We are adding several powerhouse comics to our Sunday offerings, including Dennis the Menace, Garfield, Baby Blues, Pearls Before Swine and Marmaduke. Other newcomers are JumpStart, Ziggy, Foxtrot and Non Sequitur.

These four comics will do new daily duties: JumpStart, Ziggy, Non Sequitur and Dennis the Menace.

So long … Comics that didn't make the cut

It's hard to say goodbye, but nothing lasts forever. I'm sure these comics have their fans, but they didn't make the cut:

Daily: Wizard of ID, Breaking Cat News, Mother Goose and Grimm, Wumo, Baldo, Rose is Rose and Crankshaft.

Sunday: Get Fuzzy, Sunday with Heathcliff, Rose is Rose, Wallace the Brave, Baldo, Kidtown, Crankshaft, Wizard of ID, Shoe, Mother Goose and Grimm, Doonesbury, Real Life Adventures and Reality Check.

Get to know these cultural legends

In the Sept. 24 edition, we're explaining the evolution of the observations, themes and outstanding art in this newspaper's comic strips. The comics over the years have grown, changed and impacted our society, from war to love to pets and changing political norms.

In the coming weeks, we will help you connect with our comic artists through profiles that give readers a behind-the-ink look at some of these cultural legends.

On Oct. 1, profiles are planned on Jeff Keane, author of The Family Circus, and on Oct. 8, readers will get to know Jim Borgman of Zits, Dean Young of Blondie and Brian Crane of Pickles.

Tim Archuleta is the editor of the El Paso Times. You can reach him at 915-546-6141 or tarchuleta@elpasotimes.com.

This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: El Paso Times adapts comics to changing tastes, launches fresh lineup