Even in the 1980s, the comics industry was troubled. Here is a 1989 speech by Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, on the comics that inspired him as a child, and the problem with a business that was being dominated by a very small group of syndicates and newspapers that prevented artists from retaining the ownership of their work:

“By having complete control over the comic strip, the syndicate can ruin the work. Although there has never, ever been a successor to a comic strip half as good as the original creator, passing strips down through generations like secondhand clothes has been the standard practice of the business since it began. Incredibly, syndicates still today tell young artists that they’re not good enough to draw their own strip, but they are good enough to carry on the work of some legendary strip instead. Too often, syndicates would rather have the dwindling income of a doddering dinosaur than let the strip die and risk losing the spot to a rival syndicate. Consequently, the comics pages are full of dead wood. Strips that had some relevance to the world during the depression are now being continued by baby boomers, and the results are embarrassing.”