Preview: A Look at ‘Funny Pages’ Coming to ‘NY Times’ On Sunday

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By: E&P Staff

Stop the presses! The New York Times this coming Sunday will offer its first comic strip since “The Roosevelt Bears” in 1906 as part of a new section in its weekly magazine called “The Funny Pages.” A look at a preview copy of this Sunday’s edition finds that the section also includes a guest humor column — and an Elmore Leonard serial.

In a note to readers, the magazine’s editors reveal that they have taken their inspiration ?from the Sunday supplements that newspapers first published more than a century ago.? But their version, they say, will ?go easy on the showgirls,” and instead ?reflect the tastes of a new century.”

The first edition kicks off on page 41 — just after Safire — with what the editors call “a new kind of comic strip” by well-known graphic novelist Chris Ware, titled “Builiding Stories.”

The full-page color strip is vertical and architectural and takes place entirely within a single building — in fact, it reveals the actual thoughts and fears of the building itself. Will that cute girl passing across the street move in? “Could it — could it be possible… I’m available again?” the building wonders.

Then it expresses its fear of “vacancy.” And wishes the girl could have seen him in his “heyday.” And so on.

Another continuing feature, at least for 14 weeks, will be a serial novella by famed crime writer Elmore Leonard, called ?Comfort to the Enemy.? It runs three pages this week, plus ads.

A third humorous feature (edited by the magazine’s John Hodgman) will feature different contributors every week and is called “True-Life Tales.” They are meant to focus on “storytelling” not joke telling, the editors note. Novelist Elizabeth Gilbert provides the first, a full-pager, on being a recovering yoga purist” who, in the gym, is “workin’ my boobs off trying.”

To introduce the new section, editors promise a podcast next week, hosted by Hodgman, and featuring Ware, Leonard, and Gilbert.

Concluding their note, the editors say that while journalism remains the central mission of the magazine, “we hope to be able to engage our readers in some ways we haven’t yet tried — and to acknowledge that it takes many different types of writing to tell the story of our times.”

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