Is The Spider-Man Comic Strip Ending? Is Ballard Street Ending?


The Amazing Spider-Man comic strip isn’t ending right now. But it is going into reruns. D D Degg, at The Daily Cartoonist, passes on the press release about it. From the 25th of March the syndicate will “be re-running some of Spinder-Man’s greatest hits”.

I’m startled, certainly. I think everyone who had an opinion supposed the comic strip would respond to Stan Lee’s death with a change in credits. Acknowledging Roy Thomas’s writing would seem fair enough and as he’s been writing the strip for years it seems an easy enough change.

Cage: 'If you're sticking around to turn Killgrave over to the cops, I'm outta here.' Spider-Man: 'Actually, Cage, I was kinda wondering ... if you'd mind posing for a picture or two with me?' Cage is baffled.
Roy Thomas and Alex Saviuk’s Amazing Spider-Man for the 6th of March, 2019. Peter figures it’s worth the effort to get some pictures of Spider-Man fighting Luke Cage, because J Jonah Jameson is always looking for that sort of thing. This storyline originally started with Jameson attempting to hire Luke Cage to bring down Spider-Man. But if you want to headcanon this as asking for a prom date I won’t stop you.

The press release claims that the strip will “be back soon with great new stories and art”. If we take them at their word, they’re looking to refresh the comic, possibly taking on new writers or artists. That’s all fine. But it’s also what you would say if you were going to let the comic fall into endless repeats forever. I don’t remember if they promised someone would take over Mandrake the Magician after Fred Fredericks retired, but nobody ever has.

The Amazing Spider-Man seems to be going into reruns at the end of a story. Really the story seems to be at its end already. But the tne of the strip lets the characters putter around a while, re-establishing Peter Parker’s hapless loser-ness. That can fill time without standing out as time-wasting.

For my part I plan to keep doing plot recaps of The Amazing Spider-Man, at least until I get word that the strip’s gone into eternal reruns. My last plot recap, a few mere weeks old, is at this link. Any future plot updates or breaking news should appear at this link.


And then for the other question I put in the subject line here. And again from D D Degg at The Daily Cartoonist. Jerry van Amerongen, who creates the panel comic Ballard Street, is retiring. His last strip is scheduled to appear the 30th of March. Amerongen’s been cartooning like this for about forty years, with a strip called The Neighborhood from 1980 to 1990, and Ballard Street from 1991 to this year.

Man sitting in a stuffed chair. Around him are a variety of tiny building roofs. Caption: As much as anything, it's Arthur's miniature roof collection that's reduced his social sphere.
Jerry Van Amerongen’s Ballard Street for the 20th of February, 2019. You know, if he got a good two yards of sherpa fleece he could set all those roofs around and play “village during a Keeweenaw Peninsula, Michigan, winter” and everybody would think he was normal.

I’m saddened by this, of course. I always am by strips ending. Ballard Street never drew much attention, but it had a deep, natural weirdness that I enjoyed. Someone, and I can’t think where, described it as “inscrutable people acting bafflingly”. It’s a fair summary. There are a lot of panel comics out there. There’s few panel comics where you can pretty much count on seeing, like, an older man dressed in a mouse outfit and holding a hand-cranked propeller beanie listening to his wife chide him for bothering the neighbors again.

Two people, on the sidewalk, waving and flamboyantly stretching their legs and arms. Caption: 'It's those insufferable Drexlers, fresh from stretching class.'
Jerry Van Amerongen’s Ballard Street for the 7th of March, 2019. I’m feeling very called out for what I was like back when I was doing yoga every Wednesday.

There are a lot of panel strips out there, many of them trying to capture that Gary Larson weird vibe. And good for them for trying. Ballard Street ran as a sort of character-based Far Side. It featured people committed to their weirdness, and that really worked. I’m glad to have had as much of it as we did.

I imagine GoComics will carry repeats of the comic, but I don’t know that it will.

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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. He/him.

4 thoughts on “Is The Spider-Man Comic Strip Ending? Is Ballard Street Ending?”

  1. The ifnormation says there will details on the “new adventures” soon, so I presume there’s going to be an overall creative team change, new writer, artist, and they make mention of exploring new corners of the Marvel universe, so maybe more synergy with MCU movie releases? Maybe Miles Morales shows up? I think the current era will end with Peter and MJ heading off to Australia and the new strip adventures take place after they come back from a long overdue vacation.

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    1. I do want to believe they’re just taking some time off and retooling the comic. But if they want a new writer, or artist, or team they could have arranged that without going into reruns, the way Dick Tracy did. But a couple months of reruns while lining up the new creative team worked out all right for Alley Oop. So maybe it will be back and all right soon.

      But I’m aware story comics are a precarious lot, even in the universe of comic strips. There’s only the one other superhero comic left. Mandrake the Magician got interrupted mid-storyline and even the Dick Tracy team hasn’t cared enough to resolve that. It’s easy to suppose that King Features would see at least as much profit in just rerunning old strips, even if a bunch of newspapers drop it.

      A Spider-Man that was better tied to the current comic books, and particularly the movies, would probably be a good thing. One weird bit about the strip has been how, like, it would do something with the Guardians of the Galaxy characters, but two years after the movie came out and a year before the sequel. It did a Luke Cage storyline that started, like, the day after the Luke Cage series was cancelled. Personally, I do love the lingering Silver-Age-Dopiness that the comic has shown. But that’s me, and I can accept that a more modern sensibility might be better-liked.

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    1. It’s got a great perspective. And I understand people not getting its sense of humor (had one I sent to a friend just yesterday who admitted he had no idea what the joke was supposed to be), but there is something good about a comic having so much its own style. A lot of panel comics, particularly, without recurring casts will blend together, even when they’re good. Ballard Street resists that.

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