"OH NO YOU DIDN'T!" reader Kathleen McCord wrote to The Times on Monday.
She, along with many other Times readers, wondered why "Stone Soup" had been replaced on the Comics page.
"Noooooo!!! This is not OK," wrote Linda Bear of Van Nuys.
"Surely this is just a mistake -- the family will be back tomorrow, right??" asked Brenda Anderson of Santa Monica.
Unfortunately, no, the family won't be back. Creator Jan Eliot decided to end the daily strip, which has been running for 20 years. Saturday was its last day.
"Stone Soup" will continue on Sundays in those papers that carry it; The Sunday Times does not. During the week, "Half Full," by Maria Scrivan, will run in its place.
Eliot, who turned 65 recently, explained the decision on the Stone Soup website:
"It may seem like a small task, creating one cartoon a day, but it is herculean in many ways. Every Monday morning, there it is, the blank paper that represents the seven comic strips that need to be created.
"I have reached a point in life where I’d like to be free of these daily deadlines — free to travel more, spend more time with family and friends, pursue other creative projects.
"I thought long and hard about relinquishing my daily spot on the funny pages. I fought to get there, after all. But 20 years is a long time."
In Saturday's strip, sisters Val and Joan are gazing into the distance, with Joan musing, "I wonder where life will take us all from here?"
Eliot wonders the same. She wrote on her website:
"I love to write. I love photography. I’ve always been interested in marine science and scientific illustration. Who knows what might be on my horizon?"
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