SPOT THE FROG, a daily newspaper comic strip by Mark Heath, is no more. I was sad to hear this when I knew it was coming. I had heard about it. I first read that the strip was over in my cartoonist pal Mark Anderson's blog.

The strip, only four and a half years old, was an all-ages friendly, gag-a-day comic that was slyly crafted.

I say it was sly because Mark made it look easy. Look at Spot! With those big, expressive eyes, and dinky little frog body. Look at the colors on the Sunday cartoons or on the two covers of the SPOT collections, published by Andrews McMeel. Just wonderful to look at. And it was silly and inviting.

The loss diminishes the comics page. A strip like SPOT is a tentpole feature, that appeals to young readers and helps develop the habit of going to the funnies every day.

It was Mark's decision to stop. I don't know the reasons, and I don't want to extrapolate why. But I do want to ask here: why do so many strips go away after a couple of years? Why are these individual voices stilled? Some of them, like DIESEL SWEETIES, are gone because the creator has decided that the newspaper syndicate model wasn't generating enough income to justify the toil of a daily strip. (Gary Tyrrell writing for the FLEEN blog interviews "rstevens," creator of DIESEL SWEETIES, here.)

Anyway, sorry to see SPOT go. But, thanks to the Internet, it's there. Here's Mark, writing the first post-SPOT blog entry on Sunday:

"There’s a Spot the Frog-shaped hole in certain newspapers today. With luck the papers will fill the space with something other than ads.*

"Here’s the interesting thing about media. As NBC once trumpeted during summer reruns, if you haven’t seen it [the episode], it’s new to you. Or something like that. For readers who came to Spot in the last few years, you have a thousand or so strips you haven’t read. It’s like the light from a dying star. You can enjoy the glow of an exploded sun for years.

"* Your Comic Strip Here."

On his home page, you can add your name to a list of people who would be interested in seeing a third collection of SPOT. There's also a nifty song about bullfrogs. I'm hoping that Mark Heath will continue to create and let us in on more cartoons in future.

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