Local coverage of important issues! The seething national political climate! The General Plan Update! Whatever the last letter writer happened to say about Israel!
All hot topics, to be sure. But nothing seems to arouse more passion among newspaper readers than the Comics page.
The latest raging controversy centers on "Squid Row," the local strip about fictional artists drawn by Bridgett Spicer. Some people don't like it and have taken time out of their busy days to write letters of complaint about it. Many of them punctuate their opinions about the strip with exclamation points! Still others have risen to Squid Row's defense.
Not that it really matters, but the complainants never ask me which comics I like. I would guess that most people think I'm some sort of Comics Dictator and that I only run the comics near and dear to my heart. As if I was some sort of Hagar the Horrible fanatic.
For the record, here's my assessment of The Herald's current comics lineup.
For Better or For Worse: Never a big fan, I dumped it when it went into reruns. Brought it back after I almost got run out of town.
The Family Circus: To paraphrase the level of humor here, yucky icky-poo.
Classic Peanuts: For those who whine about "Squid Row," I challenge them to look at the first several years of Peanuts and tell me the art is superior.
Zits: In my opinion, the best of the bunch.
Pickles: I find myself identifying with Earl more and more, but I'm an old guy.
Sally Forth: Never a laugh-out-loud moment.
Dilbert: Is it a comic? Or real life?
Adam@Home: Mildly amusing.
Bizarro: Caters to my own twisted sense of humor.
Garfield: Jim Davis has managed to forge a successful career with the use of the same three gags.
Arctic Circle: I never take seriously the Squid Row critics if they don't also urge me to dump this unfunny and badly-drawn comic. For reasons I don't understand, the complainers are more inclined to attack the local artist — a neighbor! — than something that comes from a syndicate.
Mutts: See Arctic Circule.
Dennis the Menace: Old and cornball, sure, but he's one of our own!
Doonesbury: Some story lines are better than others, but there's hell to pay if an editor messes with this one.
Hagar the Horrible: We keep this one to prevent readers who use phrases like "conniption fit" from having a conniption fit.
Beetle Bailey: Had its day back when Fort Ord was active, but I can't imagine that anyone in today's modern military would find it relevant.
Baby Blues: How come the young children are drawn to look like monkeys?
Blondie: I've never met anyone named Dagwood, but I've known lots of Mr. Dithers. Blondie continues to run in all American newspapers because of the nostalgia thing — and for fear that Earth would spin out of its orbit if a newspaper somewhere dropped the strip.
Sherman's Lagoon: A friend told me it's the funniest strip The Herald runs. Jim Toomey tries to keep it fresh, at least, which is a good thing when you're dealing with fish.
Squid Row: If I could get 20 people from Monterey County to send me a comic strip every day, I'd replace all our syndicated comics with locals. Except for Zits. And Dilbert.