Brant Parker is gone now. He was half the brains behind The Wizard of Id, which he created in partnership with Johnny Hart. Parker had already turned the job of drawing the comic strip over to his son and was living in retirement in Lynchburg, Virginia. Reports said he was 86 and suffering from Alzheimer's disease. He died just over a week after the passing of Hart, who was still hard at work when he passed away at his drawing desk.
At the Creators Syndicate website, the Wizard of Id page carries the following announcement:
To our editors and readers: Please note that there will be no disruption of service for “The Wizard of Id” comic strip. Jeff Parker has been the artist and co-writer for the past 10 years and will continue his work with the strip.For some reason, I am not reassured.
He was privileged to work under the tutelage of his father, beloved cartoonist Brant Parker, for 10 years before Brant's retirement in 1997. Jeff Parker and the Hart family look forward to continuing a longtime tradition of comic excellence. Thank you for your continued support of “The Wizard of Id.”
This is, alas, completely standard practice in the comics industry; this just means that The Wizard of Id joins Dennis the Menace, Shoe, and many others that are already being penned by successors of the original creators. Once a comic strip becomes established, even if it's waned severely in quality since it began, the syndicate is loath to see it end and lose its faithful readership (not to mention possibly losing its slot in the papers to a strip owned by a different syndicate!), so they do whatever they can to keep it on life support. The result is that the newspaper comics page becomes increasingly filled with undead mockeries of comic strips, and increasingly closed to new talent. That's not to say that some fresh new strips don't make it in, but things are definitely going downhill, and there are many who believe that the days of the newspaper syndicate are numbered.
'Course, you probably knew all that already, but this is something that gets discussed a lot in the webcomic community; there's a lot of opining about how webcomics are the wave of the future. Then again, most of that opining is by webcartoonists, who have obvious cause to be biased on the subject, but I guess we'll see...
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