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Joe McQuaid's Publisher's Notebook: Jury still out on fate of missing comic strip

One of our Sunday comics is missing.

It hasn't "gone missing," a British idiom that drives me crazy when it is used in this and other American news media to report on someone (often an elderly person or a child) who has disappeared.

To me, "gone missing" is when a British bloke, say an Andy Capp, has had enough of the Missus, says he is going out for a pack of smokes, and never returns.

One of our Sunday comics is missing from its regular spot because a reader wrote in to say she likes to read the comics with her children and she finds this particular strip to be tasteless and vulgar. Coincidentally, I had come to the same conclusion. So we have yanked it and will see (a) how many readers notice and (b) how many care.

There are not a lot of comics for kids these days. But most of the ones that we carry for grownup readers are suitable for younger eyes, even if not understandable. Then again, I don't always understand the adult ones.

Still, we are trying to appeal to different audiences. A comic aimed at adults may sometimes be questionable for kids but very popular with its fans, so the jury is out on the one in question.

Also coincidentally, yesterday's comics Mini Page, which is devoted to kids, was devoted to the funnies because this is Newspaper in Education week and comics have been a part of newspapers for a long time. The Mini Page wrote about the fight between Hearst and Pulitzer for the "Yellow Kid" comic of the 1890s, but never referenced the "yellow journalism" term, which may have originated with that dispute. Adults fighting over the comics. Imagine that.

The Union Leader and Sunday News work with New Hampshire youth in many ways. Besides covering their educational (think Scholar of the Month) and sports endeavors, we participate in a formal Newspapers in Education program that helps teachers use the paper as an education tool in different subjects.

Our popular "Breakfast Serials" feature, which resumes tomorrow after a school vacation break, is also used in many classrooms as is our stock market contest put on with Fidelity Investments.

Over the weekend, we marked this newspaper's 58th year of involvement with the Scripps' National Spelling Bee program. We have worked with the state Elks on this program since forever and on Saturday, for the first time, it was an all-day event at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord.

To me, when kids still want to read and learn how to spell and figure out stocks, the glass is more than half full.

Write to Joe McQuaid at


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