Saturday, January 29, 2022


Herriman Saturday: March 13 1910


March 13 1910 -- Herriman suggests that Jim Jeffries needs all the great boxers of his bygone era to come to his aid in getting ready for the Fight of the Century. Whether Fitzsimmons of Tom Sharkey ever actually showed up at the training camp I don't know, but James J. Corbett did become his lead trainer and cornerman at the fight.


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Friday, January 28, 2022


Obscurity of the Day: Feet of Clay


Chris Harding came down with a bad case of the cartooning bug at the University of Arizona, where he was working on a degree in engineering. He began submitting cartoons to the Daily Wildcat, and eventually found that he was much more interested in that than his courses. He switched to an art major and after a few other series he created the strip Feet of Clay for the student newspaper. Feet of Clay takes place in a science lab and stars scientist Dr. Peterson and his monkey lab assistant, Abbott, along with secondary characters like Herriman the robot. 

Nearing graduation, he sent the strip around to syndicates, and got a development contract from Universal Press Syndicate. He also got a job offer from Hallmark Cards that was too good to pass up, so he accepted both gigs.

The daily and Sunday Feet of Clay debuted in a very small list of client papers on August 28 1997*. Only months into the strip Harding realized that his occasionally dark humor was not considered fit for newspapers, taking some of the shine off syndication for him. He had to water down his material for the audience, a fact that evidently didn't come up during the development period. There was also the small matter of working incredibly hard to keep up with both the strip and his day job. 

Barely six months into the run of Feet of Clay, Harding decided that he had to choose between Hallmark and syndication. His decision, made easier by the lack of money coming from Feet of Clay, was to dump the strip. The final episode would run on March 7 1998*.

Harding has since made a name for himself in the animation world, and with an online comic strip called We The Robots

* Source: Detroit News (but they only ran the comic on Saturdays and Sundays, so they did not actually start it until the end of the first week cited).


Love this. It would work perfectly today as a digital/online comic strip on it's own website and around the internet on social media, too.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1988 -- Overall Results

 For the 1988 survey we had two papers that printed their last editions (Springfield Leader and Press (MO) and News (Paterson, NJ)) also we had 5 papers missing their information for this month so for this survey we had 273 papers.

In the Top 30 strips this year we had 31 because the 30th position was a tie. Two strips enter the Top 30, one new and one returning after dropping out. Calvin & Hobbes is our new entry and Berry’s World is the returning strip. The strip that fell out of the Top 30 was Funky Winkerbean.

The biggest movement was the Far Side which gained 5 places, going from 13 to 8. Andy Capp makes the biggest drop, losing three spots and going from 16 to 19.

Garfield gained 4 papers and now is one strip away from knocking Blondie out of the 2nd spot. No new strips entered the 100-paper club keeping its membership at 15, but a few strips are getting closer to that magic number. Cathy and Born Loser continue their small gain and if Calvin & Hobbes continues its big gain, it should join the 100-club next year.

Here are the Top 30 strips:

TitlePlaceRankPapers +/-Total Papers
Beetle Bailey4Same-2192
Hagar the Horrible5Same2155
Family Circus7Same8139
Far Side8Up 527133
Bloom County9Down 19127
Wizard of Id10Down 18124
Shoe11Down 14117
B.C.12Down 11111
Frank and Ernest13Up 17110
Hi and Lois14Down 2-1106
For Better or For Worse15Same3104
Born Loser16Up 1694
Cathy17Up 2488
Dennis the Menace18Same187
Andy Capp19Down 3-386
Calvin and Hobbes20Entering4882
Mary Worth22Down 2-363
Barney Google and Snuffy Smith23Down 1-259
Herman24Down 1-354
Ziggy25Down 1-253
Rex Morgan26Down 1050
Gasoline Alley28Down 2-245
Winthorp29Down 1-342
Berry's World30Entering741
Tank McNamara 30Down 1-341

The popularity of the universal comic section continues to grow. Here is the breakdown:

Top 2 – 178 (Up 3)
Top 3 – 156 (Up 6)    
Top 4 -     131 (Up 7)
Top 5 – 85 (Up 2)    
Top 6 – 57 (0)    
Top 7 – 37 (0)    
Top 8 – 33 (Up 4)
Top 9 – 27 (Up 6)    
Top 10 – 18 (Up 4)
Top 11 – 13 (Up 2)
Top 12 – 10 (Up 2)
Top 13 – 2 (Down 3)
Top 14 – 1 (Up 1)
Top 15 – 1 (Up 1)

The Tampa Tribune takes back its crown of the most universal comic section with every one of the top 15 strips.

Here are the remaining strips that appeared in the Top 300 papers, ranked by newspaper count and increase/decrease:

40 – Funky Winkerbean (0), Mother Goose and Grimm (+2)

36 – Alley Oop (-3), Heathcliff (-1), Sally Forth (+3)

34 – Eek and Meek (-5)

33 – Lockhorns (0)

32 – Judge Parker (+1)

31 – Arlo and Janis (+1)

29 – Bugs Bunny (-5), Nancy (-2)

27 – Amazing Spider-Man (-5)

24 – Apartment 3-G (+2), Tiger (-4)

23 – Dick Tracy (-7), Geech (-1), Phantom (-2)

22 – Grizzwells (R), Kit N Carlyle (0)

21 – Tumbleweeds (-3)

18 – Broom Hilda (-1), Mark Trail (0)

17 – Captain Easy (0), Luann (0), Snafu (+1)

16 – Archie (-4), U.S. Acres (-16)

14 – Buz Sawyer (-2), Rose is Rose (+4), Steve Canyon (-6), What A Guy (R)

13 – Fred Basset (0), In The Bleachers (+6), Kudzu (+1), Steve Roper and Mike Nomad (-1)

11 – Brenda Starr (+2), Crock (-5), Drabble (+1), Dunagin’s People (-3), Gil Thorp (-1), Mr. Boffo (+2), On The Fastrack (-3), Redeye (-3), Small Society (+2), They’ll Do It Every Time (-1)

10 – Adam (0), Donald Duck (0), Gummi Bears (-11), Hazel (-3), Little Orphan Annie (0), Middletons (+4), Momma (-1), Mr. Tweedy (0), That’s Jake (-3), Zippy (+4)

9 – Willy N’ Ethel (0)

8 – Animal Crackers (0), Francie (-3), Grin and Bear It (0), Motley’s Crew (-1), Mr. Men and Little Miss (0)

7 – Bizarro (+2), Neighborhood (-5), Our Fascinating Earth (+4), Robotman (0), Ryatts (-1)

6 – Crankshaft (R), Gamin & Patches (R), Graffiti (-1), Heart of Juliet Jones (-2), Pavlov (0), Pop’s Place (-3)

5 – Better Half (-1), Elwood (-1), Hocus Focus (0), Love Is (-3), Outcasts (+1), Sylvia (+2)

4 – Belvedere, Caldwell, Flash Gordon, Flintstones, Girls, Hartland, Henry, Laff-A-Day, Love Handles, Miss Peach, Moose Miller, Out of Bounds, Play Better Golf with Jack Nicklaus, Rip Kirby, Sherman on the Mount, Tales of Hans Christian Anderson, Trudy

3 – Agatha Crumm, Amy, Arnold, Boomers’ Song, Briefcase, Catfish, Charlie, Ferd’Nand, John Darling, Professor Doodles, Quigmans, Scamp, Single Slices, Smith Family, Sniglets, Winnie Winkle, Wright Angles

2 – A Little Leary, Ben Wicks, Boner’s Ark, Bringing Up Father, Captain Vincible, Dollars and Nonsense, Duffy, Inside Out, Mickey Mouse, Off The Leash, Popeye, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Winnie the Pooh

1 – Better Tennis with Stan Smith, Betty Boop and Felix, Brother Juniper, Ching Chow, Eyebeam, Furtree High, Good News Bad News, Guindon, Guinness Factflle, Gumdrop, Iota, Kaleb, Laffbreak, Modesty Blaise, Mr. Abernathy, Ponytail, Rivets, Sadle, Sam and Silo, Salt Chuck, Strahle’s Bailiwick, Wild Life, Wordplay, Yecch Is

As always, you can get a complete list of features and the specific newspapers in which they appeared, just shoot an email request to


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Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 For 1988 -- Biggest Gainers and Losers

The biggest gainer for 1988 was Calvin and Hobbes, which had tied for second place last year with an increase of 20 papers. This year the strip gained a massive 48 papers. Coming in second was last year’s biggest gainer The Far Side with 27 papers. Over the last three years The Far Side has gained a total of 92 papers. The rest of the biggest gainers continue their trend in gaining more papers. Here is the rest of the best.

Bloom County - 9
Family Circus – 8
Wizard of Id – 8
Frank & Ernest – 7
Berry’s World - 7
Born Loser – 6
In The Bleachers – 6

The biggest losers are two recent strips, U.S. Acres down by 16 papers and Gummi Bears dropping 11 papers. The rest are the adventure strips on their slow downward spiral, and the incremental loss of popularity of the NEA package. Here are  the rest of the biggest losers:

Dick Tracy – 7
Steve Canyon - 6
Eek & Meek – 5
Bugs Bunny – 5
Amazing Spider-Man – 5
Crock – 5
The Neighborhood – 5

And again we track the continued losses of the adventure strips. The only one gaining was Brenda Starr, perhaps reflecting the writing of relative newcomer Mary Schmich, a respected name in newspaper circles:

Alley Oop – 36 (-3)
Amazing Spider-Man – 27 (-5)
Dick Tracy – 23 (-7)
Phantom – 23 (-2)
Mark Trail – 18 (0)
Captain Easy – 17 (0)
Buz Sawyer – 14 (-2)
Steve Canyon – 14 (-6)
Steve Roper and Mike Nomad – 13 (-1)
Brenda Starr – 11 (+2)
Little Orphan Annie – 10 (0)
Flash Gordon – 4 (0)
Rip Kirby – 4 (-1)
Popeye – 2 (0)
Modesty Blaise – 1 (0)
Brick Bradford – 0 (-1) – strip ended
Secret Agent Corrigan – 0
Mandrake the Magician – 0
Tim Tyler’s Luck – 0

Adventure strip slots are down 26 from last year; that is a 10.7% drop.

It is interesting that 1988 will be the last year for both Steve Canyon and Captain Easy. When we started this survey with the year 1978 Steve Canyon had 62 papers and Captain Easy only had 42 papers. Now in its last year Captain Easy had more papers than Steve Canyon, though of course both are way down from those 1978 figures now. Maybe in the future we can go backwards and see what their highest totals were. Also, it is clear that the syndicate did not want to continue with Steve Canyon after Milton Caniff passed away. I wonder how many years the strip would have continued if Caniff hadn’t passed away.

On the soap opera strips it was a much better year, They only lost 4 spots.  

Mary Worth – 63 (-3)
Rex Morgan – 50 (0)
Judge Parker – 32 (+1)
Apartment 3-G – 24 (+2)
Gil Thorp – 11 (-1)
Heart of Juliet Jones – 6 (-2)
Winnie Winkle – 3 (-1)


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Monday, January 24, 2022


Jeffrey Lindenblatt's Paper Trends: The 300 for 1988 -- 1987's Rookie Features

The most popular rookie strip starting in 1987 continues a pattern we had in previous years -- a strip from the NEA package replacing another NEA strip that was cancelled. The last time this happened was in 1985 when Arlo and Janis replaced Levy’s Law. This time we had the Grizzwells replacing Snake Tales. The Grizzwells debuts with 22 papers which is an increase of 5 more papers than Snake Tales had in 1986.

Coming in second is What A Guy with 14 papers. This is by Bill Hoest, who now offers his third comic strip, along with Agatha Crumm and The Lockhorns. This is case of the previous success of the artist being rewarded with editorial trust and approval.

The rest of the rookies of 1987 did not make much of an impact on the daily newspapers, at least early on. The best only ran in 6 papers. The trend continues to be that editors are being very conservative in changing their features, mainly adding strips that have been successful in other newspapers. Here is the breakdown of the rest of the rookies.

Crankshaft – 6
Gamin & Patches – 6
Love Handles – 4
Tales of Hans Christian Anderson – 4
Briefcase – 3
Single Slices – 3
Guinness Factfile, Iota, Sadie (aka Clyde), Wild Life (local feature), Yecch Is (local feature)– 1

Top Strips that began between 1977-1987

Garfield (1978) – 206
Far Side (1979) – 139
Bloom County (1980) – 127
Shoe (1977) – 117
For Better or For Worse (1979) – 104

Top Strips that began in the 1980’s

Bloom County (1980) – 127
Calvin and Hobbes (1985) – 82
Marvin (1982) – 48
Mother Goose and Grimm (1984) – 40
Sally Forth (1982) – 36   


Hoest also had a weekly panel in Parade, the syndicated Sunday supplement. It was about Howard Huge, a lovable Saint Bernard.
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Sunday, January 23, 2022


Wish You Were Here, from Rube Goldberg


Here's another Foolish Questions postcard from Rube Goldberg, issued as part of series #213 by Samson Brothers. Another lackluster entry in this series, which seemed to use Goldberg's cartoons more or less at random, offfering both masterpieces and clunkers from that very popular series.


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