I was thumbing through the book last night, and I happened to catch something I hadn't noticed before. Nearly all of the entries in the book list start and end dates, but what I only just noticed was just how short-lived many of these new comics were. Opening to a random page, here's what is listed...
Romantic Raymond, June 1919 - January 1920That's 21 comics. Ten of them lasted less than a year. Only four of them lasted four years or more, and one of those only barely. And it's not like these were all just done by crappy artists or something; there are some big name creators who worked on these like George Herriman and Geoge McManus.
Romantic Rhoda, October 1908
Romantic Rosalind, April - July 1913
Romeo, April 1905 - November 1907
Romulus of Rome, April 1961 - December 1963
Rooftop O'Toole, May 1976 - August 1980
Rookie from the 13th Squad, October 1917 - 1918
Rookie Joe, July 1939 - March 1942
The Rookie, November 1942
Room and Board, May 1928 - 1932
Room and Board (2), June 1936 - November 1958
The Roosevelt Bears Abroad, February - June 1907
The Roosevelt Bears, 1905 - July 1906
Rosalie Reduces, April - May 1933
Roscoe the Rooster, March - May 1907
Rose Is Rose, April 1984 - Present
Rosie's Beau, October 1916 - April 1918
Rosie's Beau (2), June 1926 - November 1944
Rosie; The Joy of New York Life, October 1911 - January 1912
Rosie the Roller, August 1906
Rosy Posy Mama's Girl, May 1906 - June 1909
We often think of the comics page today as almost a snapshot of the past, with not only long-lived legacy strips like Blondie and Beetle Bailey, but also reruns of Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, and others. And while I won't deny that much of the churning listed above (and indeed throughout the book) occurred nearly a century ago, I think that makes it that much more fascinating an aspect of the comics pages. There was a measure of figuring out what a comics page should look like, and what kind of strips readers responded to. It was that churn that led to Krazy Kat and Bringing Up Father. I wonder if that kind of churn is needed once again to breathe more life in that snapshot we see today.