Tuesday, June 02, 2020


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The Three Hundred for 1981 -- Biggest Winners and Losers

How important is it that a comic strip be collected into reprint paperbacks? Very important to the continued success of that comic strip, because it gives the reader an opportunity to read it though it is not available in their local paper. Also, it gives the cartoonist or the syndicate a chance to try again to sell their strip. When in 1980 the book Garfield At Large was published it changed the way strips would be collected from then on.

Most comic strips were collected in small paperbacks with one strip on each page. The strips that were picked were not generally in order and the dates were rubbed out. The Garfield book, though, reprinted 3 dailies per page plus Sundays on one page. It also started reprinting the strip from the very beginning and it had the dates on it, so you knew that you were reading it from the beginning and getting a complete reprinting. Yes, I know there were other collections like the Hyperion Press, but this was the first real mainstream reprint of this kind. The book sold so well that it even went to number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list.

With the success of the book, Garfield in 1980 went from 21 papers up to 49 papers, by far the biggest gainer of the year.

The Biggest Gainers

On the downside we again have the situation that the hottest new strip of the previous year gets the  most cancellations. Star Wars started with 50 papers but falls to 29 papers, losing 21 papers. That wasn’t quite the worst, because Side Glances lost 23 papers. That’s not a fair comparison, though, because Side Glances was demoted to a weekly strip in November 1980, and we don’t include weekly papers in our ratings. There were actually two papers that were still running it for a few months in 1981, but that’s because they were running old strips late.

The Biggest Losers

Looking at adventure strips in particular, almost all of them continued their downward trend:

The Adventure Strips

Total adventure strip slots goes form 581 down to 510; that is a 71 position and a 12 percent drop since last year.

Flash Gordon went up one paper maybe because of the 1980 feature film.


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