Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1979 -- Biggest Gainers & Losers

Not counting strips that premiered in 1978, which we covered yesterday, here are the biggest gainers of the year. A feature might gain due to appearing in other media, like TV or movies, or a strip collection hits the book market and does well enough to get editors interested. Hagar and Herman were both relatively new on the market, and the buzz was good enough that they topped the list.

Title Net Gained Papers
Hagar the Horrible +12
Herman +10
Dennis the Menace +9
Ziggy +9
Doonesbury +8
Frank and Ernest +7
Beetle Bailey +6
B.C. + 6
Amazing Spider-Man +6
Ben Wicks + 6

Here are the top losers of the year. A few were cancelled outright, several more were on their last legs with mere months before the ax would fall. Others lose popularity for more mysterious reasons.
Title Net Lost Papers
Best Seller Showcase -37 (feature cancelled)
Jeff Hawke -15 (US version cancelled)
Asterix & Obelix -14
Side Glances -9
Modesty Blaise -7
Steve Canyon -6
Winthrop -6
Casey -5
Nancy -4
Priscilla's Pop -4
Short Ribs -4
Small Society -4 (switched syndicates)
Trudy -4


Curious about imports.

Andy Capp and Fred Bassett took root and are still running here as legacy strips. Any others?

I remember seeing just a few Asterix strips, and losing interest because they appeared to be an awkward cut-and-paste of the books I'd already read. The books seemed to do well through the original creators' lives, the latest British editions reliably turning up in local bookstores. Tintin had an American toehold with his own books and occasional animated versions -- did they ever attempt a Yankee newspaper adaptation?

Surprised Jeff Hawke got any American exposure. I enjoyed the few volumes of reprints that appeared way back when, but it seems overly grownup (as opposed to "adult") and low-key for a daily strip. And what would middle America make of a whimsical devil introducing straight sci-fi stories? Modesty Blaise was grownup AND adult, but less explicit about sex than, say, 70s vintage Garth. At that, it was still probably a bit much for comic pages increasingly skewed to G-rated comedy. Was there a short-lived spike in the 70s, or was Modesty a long, slow fade from American papers?

James Bond had a long run; still running for all I know. It evolved from slightly stodgy adaptations of the novels to original stories with flashy artwork. Did that strip maintain any American presence after the initial Bond mania passed?
James Bond did have a run-in American during the Bond Mania in the 1960s running for about two years. Modesty Blaise had two runs in America a very short run in 1966 and then came back in 1976. I do not know when the Los Angeles Times Syndicate stop offering it but The Detroit Free Press who picked it up during this period ran the strip to the very end in 2001.
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