Norm Feuti’s _Retail_ comic strip is ending

Anyone who took my advice to read Norm Feuti’s Retail likely suspected this was coming. The comic strip, following the life and careers of workers in a department store, had a story about this being maybe a make-or-break holiday season. And then Stuart, the fussy regional micromanager, just … disappeared. It was so out of character as to suggest the world was ending.

Scott: 'You don't think it's possible that Stuart got fired?' Marla: 'Nah, people like Stuart never get fired. Grumbel's prizes blind loyalty above all else. Sycophants who go with the flow and pretend everything is great keep their job forever.' Scott: 'At least until the place goes bankrupt.' Marla: 'Which leads me to my next theory.'
Norm Feuti’s Retail for the 16th of January, 2020. Marla, here, had started as the assistant store manager (Stuart was the full manager). She’d had ambitions of opening her own boutique, which faded out after she was promoted to full manager. It’s not been mentioned (that I remember) in years. The workday life of putting off ambitions until you forget you had them was a running motif in the strip. It’s one of the small things, rarely drawing attention to itself, which I admired for emotional reality.

So it is: Norm Feuti announced that he’s retiring the strip. The last installment’s to run Sunday, the 23rd of February. He’s found more opportunities in children’s books and is focusing on that instead. He intends to secure a digital archive of the strip and will announce that when it has a place. I’ll try to remember to pass that news on.

I’m saddened by the news, of course. Not just for the loss of any comic. But also that Feuti drew strips with a quite good blend of daily humor and running continuity. This and his (mostly) ended Gil paid attention to working-class and even poor people, without (to my eye) ever getting snide or condescending about people’s lives. They looked at the people who are the marginal characters in other comic strips, and it’s a shame to lose those.

(Gil still runs as a Sunday comic in the Providence (RI) Journal and on Feuti’s blog. I have no reason to think Feuti will revive Retail as a Sunday or web comic, but would read it if he did.)

2020 has already been a rough year for the syndicated comics. Terri Libenson’s The Pajama Diaries (another King Features comic) ended, and Peter Guren decided he’s done every Ask Shagg comic he cares to.

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