March 10. 2013 5:21PM

Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: While newspaper rumors abound, comics rule


The newspaper business has changed dramatically in recent years, so much so that a paper of the Union Leader's size has to ask itself if it will continue to be in both the news and information business and the printing business. We are in the process of trying to answer that question.

Among other things, we are in contract discussions with two of our production unions. Because of the confidential nature of those talks, I am not at liberty to say anything further, and despite rumors abounding on the subject, there really isn't anything concrete to say right now anyway.

I can say we have rearranged the comics in our Sunday News as of yesterday. We did it to save on paper and ink and we managed to retain all but two of the comics. (The long-running "Mini Page" has been relocated to the main part of the Sunday paper.)

I am quite confident that the loss of these two comics will not be noticed by many fans unless and until they read this column, in which case they will go back to their bound volumes (what, you don't keep our comics forever?) and try to figure out which ones are missing. And I'm pretty sure even then few readers will know which ones are MIA, and if you think I'm going to identify them, think again.

Nothing (not a discussion of our business plan, not our running Democrat Kathy Sullivan's column, not an endorsement of Daniel Day Lewis for Pope) has the impact with readers as does messing with the comic strips.

I am mightily tempted, though, to yank "For Better or for Worse." It was a clever family-type strip by Canadian Lynn Johnston and had a strong following for years. She stopped the strip a few years ago but said she would incorporate new material into what otherwise would be reruns.

But I find that she has stopped doing that, which is why a recent Sunday strip may have confused some readers. It was all about kids playing and the adults thinking how "innocent" were the kids. But the kids were "playing" make-believe nuclear attacks. Very funny.

It finally dawned on me that liberal Lynn must have drawn this back when critics were blasting Ronald Reagan for his SDI ("Star Wars") initiative and other get-tough tactics that actually ended the little matter of the Cold War.

I'll keep "Pickles," though. I can really identify with that old man who in yesterday's installment was watching a TV commercial and asking, "What kind of idiot insures his termites?"

Turns out, his wife explained, the ad was for "term life insurance."

Write to Joe McQuaid at or via Twitter at @deucecrew.