You're lucky I'm here: Having spent several years sorting out press releases in the newsroom, I think I can track the swaps that came from King Features' "Editor's Dispatch" this morning, which at first glance reminds me of those animated cartoons where Bugs Bunny and an adversary would be running in and out of doors on a long hallway, or possibly a bedroom farce in which couples do roughly the same.
He's one of the few who has found a way to maintain some detail in an ever-shrinking print medium that has driven most artists to a simplified style that works better in shrinky-dink mode than when the comics are read on line, at least on a real computer with a real monitor.
Yes, I know: I'm one of six people who reads on line on a real computer with a real monitor rather than on a telephone. Which I contend means we're the only six who are allowed to complain about shrinking comics, but I digress. My point was simply that Manley handles the situation better than most artists seem to.
My surprise, rather, is that Terry Beatty, who already does the Sunday Phantom, didn't simply expand to cover the dailies as well, and perhaps he was offered the chance and passed it up.
And that would make sense in terms of workload, since he has already been drawing Rex Morgan seven days a week for a little over two years, and adding another six strips would certainly make for a busy schedule.
But Beatty is, in fact, adding to his duties: He has been named as writer for Rex Morgan, surplanting Woody Wilson, who also writes Judge Parker. Wilson had written both strips since 1990, when he was assistant to Nick Dallis, who originated those strips plus Apartment 3-G.
No mention of Wilson in the press release, which I suppose is better than hearing that he wants to spend more time with his family. However, Beatty has his work cut out for him, because Wilson has kept both strips interesting and well above the norm for continuity strips. (When he wasn't contributing to research projects.)
In any case, Wilson seems to be about my age, so he may have wanted to lower the pace a bit. I have heard rumors that there is life more than three feet from the keyboard.
And speaking of aging gracefully
Dennis the Menace turned 65 last week, and this Editor's Dispatch has some comments from the current writer/artist team on that strip.
It reminded me, however, of when Dennis was about to turn 44 and, as part of my education program, I offered kids a chance to use their imaginations and project how Dennis would have turned out if he had aged in real time.
(Incidentally, that's Dennis's head with a five o'clock shadow and mustache added, then cut out and pasted onto Leroy Lockhorn's body. It would be a couple of more years before I was introduced to the wonders of Photoshop and Corel.)
We featured responses in our March 12, 1995 issue, and this was the headliner. Looking back, I'm pretty impressed with the "get off my lawn" rant, since it was quite a while before that became a standard identifier for old coots.
I bundled up all the responses with that issue of the paper and sent it off to Hank Ketcham, who responded with a very kind letter that is around here somewhere but not where I can put my hands on it at the moment.
And I gather the Dennis the Menace team liked Ali's take on things, because this strip appeared in papers April 9.
I liked Gracie's take, myself: