Tuesday, December 10, 2019


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1978 -- Rookies

A comic strip’s life begins of course with the writer and artist creating a comic strip itself. Their next step is to send samples of their comic strip project to a syndicate. The syndicate then decides to either accept or pass on it. If they do accept the strip, it may spend time being honed and tested, but then it goes to the sales department to create a press packet to be sent to newspapers around the country. These sales packets are either sent out by mail, or are handed out in person by salespeople to newspaper features editors. If enough of those editors sign up, the strip begins its syndicated life. The following list shows which new comic strips sold the best in the calendar year of 1977 (and are therefore running on the first week of 1978).

The number one strip of the year is rare thing in 1977 -- a story strip. The last successful story strip up to this time was Apartment 3-G which debuted back in 1961. What makes this even rarer is that this was an adventure strip. The youngest adventure strip at this time was Steve Canyon, which debuted way back in 1947. Out of the 300 papers, 50 picked up this strip, which puts it at number 29 on the most popular list for 1978. That strip was The Amazing Spider-man. The surprising success of this strip is probably the main reason that the revival of the adventure strip came about and would last for the next eight years.

Coming in second with 47 papers is Shoe by Jeff MacNelly. Coming in third is Best Seller Showcase with 37 papers. This strip would come and go before the end of 1978, which makes it a classic example of editors loving the idea of the strip but losing faith very quickly. The next two strips were imports; one from France and the second from England. Asterix & Obelix got 24 papers and Jeff Hawke got 16 papers.

Here are the top ten:

Title Papers Rank
Amazing Spider-Man 50 29
Shoe 47 31
Best Seller Showcase 37 39
Asterix & Obelix 24 53
Jeff Hawke 16 68
Zoonies 16 68
Sam and Silo 14 76
Agatha Crumm 12 84
The Sporting Life 11 93
Casey 09 102
Stanley 07 108

Some other notables are The Captain's Gig, Howard the Duck and Star Hawks, all with six papers, and Gumdrops  and Henny Youngman, with four papers each.


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