Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1979 -- The Rookies

Most of the popular rookie strips of 1978 fall into three categories. The first is humor strips that focus on animals --- this may be pure chance, but three new strips star animals. The second shows that the success of Spiderman and Best Seller Showcase encouraged syndicates to try more story strips; there are four of them on the list. Finally are a couple strips that are intended to be sort of hip, hanging on Doonesbury’s coattails. Here are the top ten.

Top Ten Rookie strips for 1978 as of Jan 1979

Title Number of Papers Syndicate
Winnie the Pooh 46 King Features
The World Greatest Superheroes 34 Chicago Tribune-New York News
Incredible Hulk 17 Register & Tribune Syndicate
Scoops 16 Sneyd Syndicate
Garfield 14 United Feature
Conan the Barbarian 12 Register & Tribune Syndicate
Encyclopedia Brown 10 Universal Press Syndicate
Maestro & Amalita 6 Field Enterprises
Pavlov 5 Universal Press Syndicate
Tucker 5 Universal Press Syndicate

Top Ten Strips  in Jan 1979 that premiered in 1977 or 1978

Title Number of Papers Rank Overall
Amazing Spider-Man 54 22
Shoe 48 26
Winnie the Pooh 46 29
The World Greatest Superheroes 34
Incredible Hulk 17
Zoonies 16
Scoops 16
Agatha Crumm 15
Garfield 14
Sam and Silo 14

Note that many of the 1977 strips have already dropped off the top ten – feature editors had new strips on a very short leash!


I don't think I've heard of Sneyd Syndicate. Did they have other strips?
You can't get these kind of numbers any more. An instant big success like Spiderman or Winnie is pretty much impossible today. Some you'll notice on these lists started out slow but became big hits or at least had a consistantly good enough showing to last for many years, like Garfield or Sam & Silo. Most of these titles though, only were flash in the pans.
We at KFS were obligated to come up with X number of new strip offerings every year. A strip launch was not cheap, not at all, and every one was a gamble. It seemed to me as time went on, the risk got higher and higher as papers wouldn't take on new strips so much, and in fact were dropping some they had, and not replacing them with anything else.
So we just churned out strips that never got any traction, like "Franklin Fibbs", "The Hots" or "Grammy". In the class of new features, some titles might have a short "fad" shelf life, but there hasn't been a real runaway smash, at KFS or any other syndicate, in decades.
Also, you are forgetting that today there are a few very successful strips that are still being syndicated and running in many papers even though they have not produced a new strip in 20 years. So a chance for a new strip to be successful gets even less.
Doug Sneyd, a frequent Playboy cartoonist, created "Scoops". Guessing it was self-syndicated.

Joe Martin appears to self-syndicate "Mr. Boffo" and his other strips. How widespread are they?
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