Berkeley Breathed replies to a Palos Verdes fifth-grade critic on the Kids Reading Room page at the back of today's L.A. Times Calendar section. Sarah, who was upset that Peanuts was moved off the front of Sunday Comics for Breathed's Opus, had objected to his comment that "There is no excuse for strips drawn by dead people." She wrote:
I have to argue with that. If we were to go with what he said, then we shouldn't publish anything by Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack London, Aesop or Oscar Wilde, and many others. I think you get my point. There is no reason that dead people's comics should be overlooked by alive people's comics.
Pretend you are an artist and want to get your comic in the newspaper so other people can enjoy it. But there's a problem. Getting into the comics section of a newspaper is like a battleground. There is just so much space. In order for your comic to be seen, someone else's has to be killed. We have been able to enjoy 40 years of Charles Schulz because someone else's comic was canceled or didn't even make it to the pages of the newspaper. That's why I made that statement. We will never be able to discover the next Charles Schulz if we keep rerunning "Peanuts" and other comics by dead artists.
You make a good point when you say that if my statement were true, then we shouldn't publish anything by Mark Twain, Dr. Seuss, etc. But you miss one thing. The space in a bookstore is not as limited as the pages of a newspaper. And with the Internet, it is infinite. "Peanuts" will continue to be published, right along with Mark Twain and Dr. Seuss. I was just suggesting that the comics page in particular make room for new geniuses.
Thanks to The Raven for the pointer. Earlier: Comics shuffled