comic strip dogs department

The Telegram, November 15, 1954. Click on image for larger version. 
November 15, 1954: the day Torontonians began enjoying two long-running comic strips, courtesy of the Telegram. Peanuts (whose local debut I wrote about for Torontoist) had been gaining popularity across North America since its debut four years earlier, while Marmaduke began causing mischief that year. Both strips migrated to the Toronto Star when the Tely folded in 1971.

Peanuts is regarded as a comic strip classic; Marmaduke is admired for its longevity (creator Brad Anderson is still alive at age 90). The Great Dane's monotony has led papers to try and drop the strip--an act they don't always succeed in carrying out. When the Star attempted to dump it in 1999, readers revolted.

When people like, as the Star put it, the same two jokes told over and over again ("Marmaduke is a dog with some human qualities, and Marmaduke is gargantuan"), it's comfort food they will fight tenaciously to hold on to. Reader protests to keep certain strips alive has led to plenty of zombie panels on the printed page of series whose expiration date was decades ago, and fueled a cottage industry of websites mocking those legacy strips.

Additional material from the February 3, 2008 edition of the Toronto Star


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