I first noticed a correlation between comics in newspapers and economic strength last week while reading the Wall Street Journal's report about investors fleeing the Eurozone for safer havens in Scandinavia. Just one night before, the president of our international division, Kerry Slagle, had been telling me about how strong a market Scandinavia is for our comics. Places like Greece, southern Italy or Portugal, on the other hand, run very little if any American comics features.
Are you noticing a trend yet? If not, I'll go ahead and extrapolate: European nations can greatly improve their odds of thriving economically by running Universal Uclick comic features.
First, I must admit that these are by no means scientific observations — just a bit of sophistry aimed at getting our friends across the pond to invest a bit more in laughter. As Mr. Slagle pointed out, Comics in the newspaper are a very American institution, and most European papers have only a couple comics at most.
However, there are rumblings of more widespread comics appeal in Germany, the Eurozone country I'm most familiar with. The Museum of European Culture in Berlin is currently running an exhibit called "Comic Life" that showcases examples of how comics have emerged as a medium of entertainment, expression and even political awareness. The news network Deutsche Welle has a great feature about the exhibit and the rise of comics in that country.
Last year I also stumbled across the above image of Garfield just across the street from the offices of the Leipziger Volkszeitung, Leipzig's daily broadsheet. Snoopy was on the sign's flipside (Not surprisingly, Snoopy, Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes are the most popular features in Europe). I also received a hardcover German edition of Gary Larson's "Cows of Our Planet" as a birthday gift last year.
So the next time your friends Reinhold, Isabella or Jacque complain to you about debt insolvency in the Schengen countries, quietly slide them a copy of the 2012 UU catalog and urge them to contact their local newspaper. It might not clear up Europe's financial forecast overnight, but it would certainly make those bitter pills of economic worry a little bit easier to swallow. Plus, there's nothing quite like seeing "Frank & Ernest" speak Italian.