Readers react to changes in comics

It’s a sad fact that adding anything new to our comics pages requires we drop an existing strip. Each strip has its fans, so when the new comic Secret Asian Man replaced One Big Happy in the daily and Sunday Herald, readers responded. Some called, some sent e-mails and some wrote letters to the editor.

Their message was uniform: Bring back Ruthie, the comic’s main character. Many added that they didn’t find Secret Asian Man funny, and certainly not a replacement for One Big Happy.

That’s not surprising because Secret Asian Man’s appeal is unique and unfamiliar.

Secret Asian Man was selected to add variety and broaden the appeal of our comics lineup. It is loosely based on the life of the cartoonist, Tak Toyoshima, who uses wit and humor to allow us to see the world through his eyes.

The One Big Happy comic, although popular, is much like other family-based strips (for example, Pickles).

A new comic needs time to prove itself, and that time is measured in months, not days or weeks. It would be unfair to cancel a new comic so soon after introducing it to readers, so bringing back One Big Happy would mean dropping something else, and touching off another round of dissatisfaction.

For now, we’ll keep Secret Asian Man and see if it develops a following and we apologize to the fans of One Big Happy for taking away one of their favorites.

Another comics issue is resolved in the Sunday color comics today. We introduced a new strip called Condorito two weeks ago. It’s a comic that’s been very popular in Latin America for many years. It recently became available in English as well as Spanish.

Promotion material describes Condorito as “half-man, half-condor,” a poor yet resourceful creature whose imagination gets him into all sorts of situations.

Unfortunately, the company that prints our color comics placed the Spanish-language version on our pages by mistake. Since the comics are printed elsewhere and shipped here, it has taken a little time to correct the error.

The mistake led to a small flurry of comments from people who didn’t understand why a comic strip in Spanish suddenly appeared in the Sunday comics. A few liked the fact that it was in Spanish, but many more wanted to be able to understand it.

Starting today, they will.

Finally, we’ll be adding a new Sunday comic starting Aug. 26 called A Doctor, A Lawyer &A Cop. The three characters are buddies and the strip’s humor focuses on their occupations. The new strip replaces B.C., whose creator, Johnny Hart, died in April.

Stan Strick,

executive editor

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