The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 1, 2014

ERIC KNOPSNYDER | A fresh take on funnies

JOHNSTOWN — Did you notice some funny business in our comics pages recently?

Many of you did and contacted the newsroom to ask why “Doonesbury” and “For Better or For Worse” were no longer appearing in our publication.

There’s a simple explanation: They are no longer being produced.

Garry Trudeau, the artist behind “Doonesbury,” has decided to stop creating the daily strip in order to concentrate on a Web series that he has been working on. Because the strip is highly political and revolves around current events, we did not feel that it would work in reruns. While “Doonesbury” has a long and storied history, we’re not sure that Reagan jokes are what our audience is looking for in 2014.

In its place, we have opted to bring readers “Shoe,” the long-running strip about newspaper editor P. Martin Shoemaker and his co-workers and cohorts in Treetops, East Virginia.

Created by three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Jeff MacNelly, the strip has been popular since its debut in 1977. MacNelly died of cancer in 2000, but his widow, Susie MacNelly, and longtime assistant, Chris Cassatt, have continued to make “Shoe” a classic.

While we were looking at the comics, we decided to replace another strip that is no longer producing new content – “For Better or For Worse.” Artist Lynn Johnston stopped producing the strip, which followed the lives of a Canadian family, in 2008.

Rather than use reruns of the strip, we decided to bring our readers some freshly squeezed content. “Rhymes With Orange” has twice been honored as the Best Newspaper Panel by the National Cartoonists Society.

Cartoonist Hilary Price doesn’t center the strip around one set of characters, but instead focuses on subjects such as relationships, work, pets, parents and holidays.

“Shoe” and “Rhymes With Orange” began running in the daily editions of The Tribune-Democrat on Monday. They will begin appearing in the Sunday comics on March 16.

We know that readers often get attached to the comic strips that they follow on a daily basis. We hope that you’ll grow to love and appreciate “Shoe” and “Rhymes With Orange.”

Eric Knopsnyder is the editor of The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/eric_knopsnyder.

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