Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Rant on the face of it.

I wish the people with authority to change things at The Washington Post would explain something to me. Or, being executive types, would ask the people who do understand these things to explain it to them, the executives, so that they, the executives, could explain it to the rest of us, who might or might not be executives: Why is it that some comics on the Web pages of The Washington Post on Sundays are squished into a space that would be large enough only to hold the amount of postage necessary to send a one ounce letter from Washington, D.C. to Alexandria, VA? OK, you're probably thinking, "That's a lot of postage!" Well, considering that the Postal Service is losing about $600,000,000 a month, or roughly as many dollars as the letters they lose in the same time span, it isn't that much postage. If they could find a few of those letters, some probably have money inside, which would go a ways to reducing their deficits. But my point is that the comics, some comics, are compressed to a small size, so small that the words in the balloons become unreadable. Why is that? And why only some? Doonesbury, for example, spreads down the Web page so far that it takes about five minutes to scroll to the bottom, by which time I have forgotten what went on in the first panel. Garfield, as another example, occupies a space about the size of a litter box, while, typically, the dialogue in Garfield Sunday strips will consist of "mice," "pizza" and "Slobber!" Yet, and here's where things get really strange, Barney & Clyde, which is actually syndicated by the Post's own Writers Group, is squeezed into an area that would comfortably house a Bazooka Joe comic but nothing larger. This imbalance in space assignment is particularly annoying, because B&C normally uses more words in its balloons than Lincoln's Gettysburg Address -- per speaking character.

Now, I can understand why comics are squashed on the paper edition of newspapers. The cost of printing the pages is increasing, and the money coming in from advertisers and subscribers is decreasing, and it makes some business sense to conserve space and paper and ink. But what is the reasoning for putting small versions of comics on the Web? How much does a Web page cost the Post per square inch? Think of a number between zero and zero, and you would be close to the figure. And how much would it cost to make the page larger? Multiply that sum by however much you wish, and you have the answer. How much more does it cost to give Doonesbury a long page? Nothing. How much does it cost to give B&C thirty percent of the space that Doonesbury is given? Thirty percent of nothing. So, executives, explain the disparity. I dare you.

Oh, and there's a new character in the Sunday September 12 comic, and if we could read what was in the balloons, we would tell you his name. (All right, it's Frothstein.)

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