Web Pinch Hits for Print ‘Thorp’

By: Dave Astor

When the Chicago Tribune dropped “Gil Thorp” from its sports section this month after 40-plus years, it decided to help readers continue to see the strip.

In an unusual post-comic-cancellation move, the paper put a box in the sports section giving the address where “Gil Thorp” can be viewed on the Tribune‘s Web site. The box will appear for another week or so, according to Dan McGrath, the paper’s associate managing editor for sports.

“‘Gil Thorp’ still has some devoted readers,” said McGrath. “We didn’t want to deny them access.”

He noted that this won’t help “Gil Thorp” readers who don’t have Internet access, but said the Tribune just didn’t want to run the strip in print anymore. “It’s not as good as it was before [creator] Jack Berrill died,” said McGrath, referring to the comic’s stories as well as art. “But it was a painful decision. I’ve read ‘Gil Thorp’ all my life.”

McGrath reported that about 40 readers contacted the paper after it dropped the Tribune Media Services strip, and some expressed appreciation for the Web-referral box.

The Tribune sports section hasn’t replaced “Gil Thorp” with another comic. Explained McGrath: “There’s always a need for extra space on the scoreboard agate page.”

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