When I picked up a copy of The Weekly Ringer as a freshman three years ago, my first thought was “where’s the funnies?” Like most people my age, the funnies page had been my primary interaction with newspaper as a medium. Before I read the “news” or whatever, I’d flip to the back to see what Garfield and the Peanuts gang were up to. With the recent rebranding, The Weekly Ringer now has the opportunity to open itself not only to print media but visual media as well.
Now, I’m not saying the paper has to obtain the rights to reprint classics—in fact, I’d prefer it didn’t. A funnies section is a gateway to greater community engagement, from readers and contributors alike. Having a page of one-to-five-panel black-and-white comics penned and inked by UMW students with original (possibly school-themed) characters would foster a unique school culture and allow for a wider range of commentary on current events. It might even boost readership if students who otherwise wouldn’t give the paper a second glance start doing so once it runs comics. It would also be a boost to visual arts students who could count their tenure as cartoonists for The Weekly Ringer as work experience, much like I suppose the writers do. Now is the perfect time for The Weekly Ringer to hold auditions (applications?) for art students and the artistically inclined to establish a stable(ish) rotation of comics, if not for this semester then next fall.
Serious journalism and lighthearted fun can coexist, and do so in a great many of the nation’s papers. Why can’t ours follow suit? (Seriously, if a funnies page is completely off the table, I’d love to know why.)
Thank you for your time,