The doctor is in.
At least he will be beginning Monday.
Seven weeks after being removed from The Herald-Mail’s comics pages, “Rex Morgan” is being brought back for publication seven days a week.
His return is a response to reader feedback following a major overhaul of the comics pages.
On Jan. 2, we cut in half the number of comics that The Herald-Mail publishes in its Monday through Saturday editions.
Before October 2007, we published The Daily Mail with one page of comics daily and The Morning Herald with an entirely different page of daily comics. When we discontinued the afternoon publication and merged content from the two newspapers, we kept both pages of comics. Then, when staff redesigned The Herald-Mail in 2008, some comics spilled over onto the Daily Break page, which also contains advice columns, horoscopes and a crossword puzzle, and is published Monday though Saturday.
Devoting three-plus pages to comics and advice limited the space for news and advertising.
News and advertising, not surprisingly, are the top two reasons that most people buy The Herald-Mail, according to years of readership data.
As readership drivers, the comics trail news by a significant margin, so the decision was made to free space for news. While thousands of people still read the comics every day, some comic strips and panels are read far less than others.
So we tried to determine which comics readers liked the most and kept those to maintain the overall interest in the comics page without dedicating quite as much space.
In November 2011, we announced our intentions and offered readers the opportunity to take a survey in print or online to help us decide what to keep and what to cut. Nearly 1,900 readers responded to the survey.
Announcing our intentions and giving readers a chance to participate seems to have made readers fairly accepting of the changes.
After the cuts, we received a small flurry of calls and emails.
I appreciate all of the feedback. Taken together, it helped me get a grasp of what readers really thought of the changes.
While we received calls and emails about a few other specific comics, we received the most requests to bring back the serial comic “Rex Morgan.”
Many readers said they didn’t take the survey because they did not think we were considering cutting “Rex” because it did not appear on the main comics pages, and, accordingly, they did not consider it a “comic.”
After “Rex” was gone, loyal readers missed it because they had read it every day to follow the action.
Well, now they are invited to get back into that habit.
Thank you all for reading The Herald-Mail and for bearing with us as we make some changes.