To: Luke
From: Owen
Re: The Weekends are Made for Owen

Today we put out our first installment of Sunday Comics, aggregating the best of gaming-themed comics from around the Web. This isn't the first time I've put together a page of strips and panels.

When I was 13, after much pestering, Dad made me the "Comics Editor" of the newspaper he published. I was in charge of subscribing to, managing, cutting out and pasting up the funnies and the features, like horoscopes and "Frank & Ernest." The first thing I sought to do with my newfound power was to completely remake the page, toss out the old cheapie strips that no one knew or cared about, and rebuild the section with ones more familiar.

When I brought this idea to Dad in his office, he listened without saying a word to me making my case. When I finished, he swiveled in his chair to the adding machine, punched up a bunch of numbers, hit the yellow total button and ripped off the tape. He circled the bottom figure with a no-print blue pen and handed it to me. $52.71. It's what the paper spent weekly on syndicated features. "Come in under that," Dad said, "and I don't care what you get."


The next four weeks, I schlepped an Editor & Publisher syndicate catalog to my 8th grade classes and informally surveyed friends and teachers. After school I went down to the office and blind-called sales representatives at the major syndicates - Universal Press, King Features, United Features, North American Syndicate. I was lucky my voice had broken by then; most dealt with me as an adult. I haggled them down to dirt-cheap rates and got them to knock the postage cost out entirely, a tactic suggested by Dad. We were small enough to get a cut rate, and as a tri-weekly, we skirted the exclusive rights the Winston-Salem Journal had to certain strips. I was shopping for comics and could buy any I wanted, so long as I didn't go over that $52.71.

I was close to cementing my two crown jewels - Peanuts and Garfield, at the time the two most popular strips - with a guy whose name I shall never forget: Victor Oelffson, of United Features. I had told him and every other agent not to call me before 3 p.m. as that's when I reported for my shift. Well, one day, Vic did, around 2:30, and got our classifieds manager. "He hasn't gotten off the school bus yet," she told him. When I called back, both Peanuts and Garfield had gone back up to full price. They didn't make the final package.


But we did get a much-improved comics page, anchored by the magnificent Bloom County. For that one, I told the rep at the Washington Post Writer's Group he could name his price. I had promised our sports editor, Richard Craver, that we were absolutely getting that. When Berke Breathed retired that strip, we replaced it with Calvin and Hobbes. And I still have, sitting in a file here, the final camera-ready mailings of both strips, plus some old Far Sides thrown in for good measure.

"Comics Editor" was something of a joke title. They gave it to whomever was unlucky enough to get the job of pasting up the page. When I took over, the syndicates started mailing things to OWEN GOOD: COMICS EDITOR. I always did enjoy seeing, every week, a dozen new envelopes with my name over that title.


Some of what you missed:
Ten Years Ago: "Halo is the Name of This Game."
Sunday Comics
Mario Teaches Typing Warcraft

Game Characters Looking for Love in All the Creepy Places
Discussing a Dangerous Game - for Girls
Yes, I Know About the Damn PS3 Slim Video [Update]


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