Has the comic strip _Momma_ come to an end?


Mell Lazarus, cartoonist for Momma and Miss Peach, died about two months ago. And now we know how far ahead of deadline he was able to work, between original strips and reruns. This appeared last Sunday, when I was trying to cover up being away from home with a week of my own reruns:

Characters gathered around Momma's gravestone: 'RIP Sonya Hobbes, 1927 - 2016. I Told You I Was Sick'. Surrounding the gravestone are Cathy and Electra, Jeremy from Zits, Luann, Earl and Mooch from Mutts, Farley from For Better Or For Worse, Snoopy, Billy from The Family Circus, the dad from Baby Blues, the guy and dog from Ballard Street, and Tom Doozie from the Doozies. Plus some Sergio Aragones marginal figures.
Mell Lazarus’s Momma for the 10th of July, 2016. I admit, I laughed, and felt bad about the laugh, which is what you want for this kind of joke. None of the characters are Lazarus’s, which does seem a little odd. The fellow on the far right holding the dog is from Jerry Van Amerongen’s Ballard Street. The very sketchy fellow on the far right is from Tom Gammill’s The Doozies and yes, it’s that Tom Gammill. If you don’t know that Tom Gammill, don’t worry.

I doubt anyone saw that coming. Momma was never a continuity-heavy strip and so there wasn’t any reason to think it would need a finale. I’m impressed that Lazarus or someone working with him had thought to have a closing comic. Also that it’s a perfect capstone for the comic.

It is curious to me none of Lazarus’s characters appears in the strip. For that matter, Cathy, For Better Or For Worse, and Peanuts are in officially announced perpetual reruns, with Schulz even dead for quite some time now. The Family Circus is in unofficially announced perpetual reruns. I don’t know what to make of this set of characters, other than that perhaps they reflect creators Lazarus considered particularly good friends.

Is the comic strip leaving syndication? I haven’t seen any announcement the syndicate means to drop it, although it’s hard to suppose there’ll be any more new strips. But the perpetual-rerun is now a tolerated part of the syndicated comic offering: besides the above-mentioned strips Doonesbury and Get Fuzzy are new only on weekends, and there are many minor strips that are new only on the weekends or not at all. And Momma hadn’t offered a new daily strip since February.

What I gather is that Momma is still being offered to newspapers, but that might reflect Creators Syndicate not having decided what to do after Lazarus’s death. If I hear of anything more I’ll say.

According to posters on the Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips, Jok Church’s feature You Can with Beakman and Jax is ending this week. And according to the strip itself Kevin Frank’s Heaven’s Love Thrift Shop is ending at the close of the month. The past twelve months have been a brutal one for syndicated comics and related features.

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Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there.

5 thoughts on “Has the comic strip _Momma_ come to an end?”

  1. “It is curious to me none of Lazarus’s characters appears in the strip.”

    Is it really that surprising that none of Momma’s children would show up at the funeral?

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    1. Yes, that’s the story. Thanks for linking to it.

      I do like the wickedness of Lazarus’s planned final joke. It probably had more punch given how comfortably familiar so much of the strip had gotten in its last years; the final strip as given really kicked.

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