As newspapers continue to meet the fate of the Rochester Times-Union, which was folded into the D&C in 1997, the fate of newspaper comics is uncertain, but guessable. Their entertainment value had already been supplanted before the Internet eviscerated their delivery mechanism. But the Internet may also be the cartoon's salvation - from Dilbert (likely the first and last major cartoon to jump from the Internet to newsprint) to XKCD to Penny Arcade to Cyanide and Happiness, cartoons are flourishing online.
We come here not to praise the new cartoon, however, but to eulogize its predecessor. We've culled (primarily from the copy of The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics I bought on Alibris a few years back) a selection of classic comics, with commentary about the cartoon, the newspaper and the time period, hoping to give a sense of the world in which these remarkable and often artistic pieces appeared. This is by no means a comprehensive, academic study - just a taste of what was created in the first half of the 20th Century, before you were likely to have been paying attention: