Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Goodbye SPOT THE FROG

SPOT THE FROG, a daily newspaper comic strip by Mark Heath, is no more. I was sad to hear this when I knew it was coming. I had heard about it. I first read that the strip was over in my cartoonist pal Mark Anderson's blog.

The strip, only four and a half years old, was an all-ages friendly, gag-a-day comic that was slyly crafted.

I say it was sly because Mark made it look easy. Look at Spot! With those big, expressive eyes, and dinky little frog body. Look at the colors on the Sunday cartoons or on the two covers of the SPOT collections, published by Andrews McMeel. Just wonderful to look at. And it was silly and inviting.

The loss diminishes the comics page. A strip like SPOT is a tentpole feature, that appeals to young readers and helps develop the habit of going to the funnies every day.

It was Mark's decision to stop. I don't know the reasons, and I don't want to extrapolate why. But I do want to ask here: why do so many strips go away after a couple of years? Why are these individual voices stilled? Some of them, like DIESEL SWEETIES, are gone because the creator has decided that the newspaper syndicate model wasn't generating enough income to justify the toil of a daily strip. (Gary Tyrrell writing for the FLEEN blog interviews "rstevens," creator of DIESEL SWEETIES, here.)

Anyway, sorry to see SPOT go. But, thanks to the Internet, it's there. Here's Mark, writing the first post-SPOT blog entry on Sunday:

"There’s a Spot the Frog-shaped hole in certain newspapers today. With luck the papers will fill the space with something other than ads.*

"Here’s the interesting thing about media. As NBC once trumpeted during summer reruns, if you haven’t seen it [the episode], it’s new to you. Or something like that. For readers who came to Spot in the last few years, you have a thousand or so strips you haven’t read. It’s like the light from a dying star. You can enjoy the glow of an exploded sun for years.

"* Your Comic Strip Here."


On his home page, you can add your name to a list of people who would be interested in seeing a third collection of SPOT. There's also a nifty song about bullfrogs. I'm hoping that Mark Heath will continue to create and let us in on more cartoons in future.

5 comments:

Mark Anderson said...

The boy still thinks Spot is the funniest cartoon he's ever seen. Good thing we have the books...

And BTW, I don't remember hearing about DS quitting. WOW! If that's not a coalmine canary, I dunno what is.

patricia said...

Of course, I can't speak for Mark, but I have to wonder if it's because of economic reasons. It's a hell of a lot of work producing a daily comic strip, and if one has done it, say, for a few years, and one isn't pulling in the big bucks, and the syndicate is taking 50% of everything you make...you gotta start wondering why to carry on. That was certainly one of the major reasons I stopped submitting, and decided to focus my energies on book illustration instead. Very sad, but what's to be done about it?

Kyle Miller said...

Like Mark, I had not heard about the demise of DS, the hot, hip, new comic that was going to turn the comics page on it's ear. Heck, if a comic that was launched with the full commitment and blessings of United Media can't cut it, is it any wonder why Working Daze was struggling? I'm suddenly glad I quit when I did.

Lucia Campbell said...

Good bye Spot and friends. I like to think of you as still going on, just not visited anymore.

Lucia Campbell said...

I wish I had known Spot was going. I miss him. Like the Cheers gang, I guess they will go on, but I won't be able to visit anymore.