They apparently got enough complaints about the unreadable size of the
strips to make this move.
Let us know how the Prince Valiant strip turns out in the new tab.
A couple months ago you wrote about the change saying,
"Even some of the larger strips are nearly unreadable at this size
...Prince Valiant looks like hell."
I could enjoy tab Sunday comics if they kept them to
two strips a page and did Prince Valiant as a full tab.
In a recent Comic Book Resources interview Mark Schultz
mentions that some papers still run it that way.
Discussing the way the strip must be set up he says,
"It’s divided into tiers more or less and it’s got to work in a two-
or three-tier format depending on if it’s being shown as a complete
strip on an entire page as some newspapers still run it or as a
format where there are two tiers."
I like the way gocomics does the Sunday Dick Tracy
as a "full page" (actually a quarter page format), and
wish they would do Annie and Brenda Starr that way
since their view larger button (unlike comics.com and
comics kingdom) is worthless.
Back to that Mark Schultz interview, the Prince Val part goes:
And of course that’s in addition to your current ongoing project
of writing “Prince Valiant” every week, with art by Gary Gianni.
How did that come about?
Gary had been assisting the previous artist, John Cullen Murphy,
for several years and when John Cullen Murphy decided to retire --
he was well into his eighties-- King Features handed the strip to
Gary. About the same time, when his father retired, the man who’d
been writing the strip, John Cullen Murphy’s son Cullen Murphy
decided that without his father working on the strip -- he’d been
working on it for several decades -- he was ready to retire as well.
They were looking for a new scripter and Gary recommended me.
We’d worked together in the past. We were on the same page as
far as what our aesthetics were. King asked me if I might be
interested and asked me to submit some story plot outlines just
so they had an idea of where I’d be taking the character. I guess
they were happy with what they saw because that was all it took.
They had me on the strip shortly after that.
When “Prince Valiant” was announced it seemed like a good
pairing because you and Gianni have a very similar aesthetic
and a lot of the same influences.
We both pull a lot from early Twentieth Century illustrators and
our love of adventure comes out of that period as well. So yeah,
we definitely have close to the same likes and dislikes of what
we want to see in an adventure strip, or an adventure storyline
I should say.
How do you put the strip together? It’s an ongoing story published
weekly, and the size and format varies. It would seem like a
challenge given all those considerations.
Yeah there are some formal considerations that have to be
ncorporated into every strip. Because it is reconfigured in different
formats in different newspapers the way the panels are structured
is pretty set. It’s divided into tiers more or less and it’s got to
in a two-tier format or three-tier format depending on if it’s being
shown as a complete vertical strip on an entire page as some
newspapers still run it or as a horizontal format where there are
two tiers. Most papers do it that way.
It gets complex. The different configurations we can put the panels
in are limited. And of course the frustrating thing about a strip
appears once a week is that you have to kind of recap in the first
panel what’s come before just to kind of remind the readers, “you
haven’t seen the story for a week now but if you’ll remember this
is where our characters were last week.” And then it’s not
absolutely required but we find it helpful to keep readers interested
to in the last panel leave some sort of a either a cliffhanger or
some loose thread. Something that leaves them with some
anticipation for what’s going to come next.
So in between those factors we’ve got to jam in what we can of
story development, action, some character pieces. Once in a
while we try to put in some humor there. But it doesn’t leave
an awful lot of space to work with.
Was it a big challenge coming to a strip from comic books?
It really is a different skill set you have to develop, to work on a
strip. It can be frustrating at times, but on the other hand it is
what it is. It’s a form of doing comics that is very well established
and seen by a huge amount more readers than your average
comic book is seen. Millions of people look at the Sunday Funnies
and hundreds of thousands if not millions see “Prince Valiant”
every week, as opposed to [comics, where] you’re doing well
these days if you’ve got ten thousand copies of a comic book
sold. The advantage is we’re in a venue that reaches a much
greater readership. The downside is it’s very formalized, it’s very
structured. You just learn to work with that and make it work for us.
The entire interview is available at
Will do. Val and Doonesbury were the two that suffered the most in the