Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Incredible Shrinking News

Take a look at yesterday's Family Circus comic. Notice anything unusual about it? Besides the fact that for once in its life it's actually kind of funny?

No, it's not Daddy's look of horrified realization at the fact that his own son considers him hopelessly square. Nor is it Little Billy's patented Alex P. Keaton brand sweater set.

It's the newspaper Daddy's reading. Look at it! Just look at the size of that thing! It's easily three times the width of Daddy's head!

I don't know how it is elsewhere in our great Republic, but here in Evansville our newspaper hasn't looked like that for a long time. Ours is positively diminutive. Fun-sized, even. 

It all started back around 2006 or so. Back then we had a normal-sized paper, around 18" x 24" or so. As readership and ad revenue began decreasing, management decided to save money on printing costs by steadily whittling down the size of the newspaper.   

By the time I left my job at the paper... er, I mean shortly after management eliminated the entire graphic design staff, the dimensions of the newspaper were down to a ridiculous looking Hobbit-sized 10.5" x 22". No, that's not a typo-- it's barely 10" wide. Not a whole lot bigger than a comic book!

Note that the price didn't decrease along with the size. Instead it went from the fifty cents it cost when I worked there to the whopping one dollar it costs now. Less for more!

So what's up with that impressively wide anachronistic Family Circus newspaper? At first I thought maybe this was a recycled strip from the 1970s, but a quick look at the signature shows that it's from Jeff Keane, the current writer and artist. So it was drawn recently. 

I can only think of three reasons why Daddy's newspaper is so wide. A: Mommy found a yellowed, vintage newspaper lining a drawer and set it next to the trash and Daddy's so addled with worry about his job that he picked it up and started reading it, not noticing it was thirty years old. B: The newspapers in Pleasanton or Blandville or wherever the hell Family Circus takes place still have a robust readership and haven't yet been forced to shrink, or C: Despite the fact that Jeff Keane has his own daily comic strip, he hasn't seen an actual newspaper for going on ten years now.

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