Retail now available wholesale


Norm Feuti has put together a complete archive of his Retail comic strip.

Retail, about the people working at Grumbel’s Department Store, was one of the comic strips to end syndication in 2020. It’s the one I most miss. It’s not a story strip, except to the extent every comic with recurring characters is expected to have them change over time. Feuti did a great job with his core characters and, particularly, the subtle paradox of maturity. The retail life is absurd, but as the characters started treating it more seriously, they made their days better but found it harder to get away from it. It’s great work that unfortunately defies presentation in a handful of sample strips.

Customer: 'Excuse me. Could you help me get something down off a high shelf?' Cooper: 'Sure.' Customer: 'Oh, thank you. It's in the cupboard above the refrigerator.' Cooper: 'Say what now?' Customer, shuffling off frame: 'It won't take long. My apartment is only a few miles from here.' Cooper: 'Uh ... '
Norm Feuti’s Retail for the 14th of March, 2017. Customers with unrealistic expectations was a running joke, naturally. My favorites were these little-old-ladies like this who seem reasonable enough and don’t know there’s, like, limits.

I’m not sure when I started reading the strip, but think it was around 2010. It was a good time; Feuti had got the hang of his characters and the worldview for the strip. In skimming the archive around then I find a good number of strips I’d say anyone could jump in and read.

Feuti continues to draw a his other strip, Gil, for Sundays. And then, posted the 30th under a category of “we’ll see where it goes”, he posted a Sunday-style strip titled Dollar Admiral, at a discount store. Dollar Admiral was teased as the store taking the place of Grumbel’s, which makes for a neat handoff. If it goes anywhere. I’d be glad if it did.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

3 thoughts on “Retail now available wholesale”

  1. I don’t read the comics every day, but when I do, Retail was always one of the first ones I would read. When it disappeared from the newspaper, I didn’t know why. Does ending syndication mean that the cartoonist retired or does it mean that somebody who makes decisions decided other comics were better? Thanks for clearing this up for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s a couple things that ending syndication might mean. Sometimes it means the syndicate has decided there’s not enough newspapers (or online subscribers) for the work in editing and distributing and developing a comic strip to be worthwhile. Occasionally a cartoonist can bring the strip to another syndicate (a harder job now as there are fewer syndicates that handle comics than there used to be), or they’ll go into self-syndication (always a hard job). Or they’ll just set up as their own web comic, which is often a good avenue for someone who enjoys the work and the community and is all right with the smaller incomes allowed.

      And sometimes it does mean the cartoonist has decided they’ve done as much as they want with the comic. Berkeley Breathed, Gary Larson, and Bill Watterson were the standout examples of this in the late 80s/early 90s. Often, especially in older comics, the syndicate owned the rights to the comic and they could hire a new artist and writer, if they thought it worthwhile. These days syndicate deals are much more likely to be that the cartoonist keeps the rights and the syndicate makes its money distributing and promoting the comic. (Check the copyright notices: is it Andrews-McMeel Syndicate or is it Will Henry, to pick one cartoonist?)

      In the case of Retail, Norm Feuti did write that he intended to end the strip so he could focus on writing children’s books. The phrasing suggests that it was his decision. I don’t have any information about whether King Features Syndicate might have dropped it anyway. My recollection is that his other comic — Gil — was cancelled by the syndicate because it didn’t get enough subscribers. (Gil dealt explicitly with a poor family, and newspapers are averse to comic strips that deal honestly with poverty. I believe Tony Cochrane has mentioned a similar problem in selling his comic strip Agnes, similarly about impoverished children.)

      Liked by 1 person

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