News of Yore: 1951 Comic Strip Poll

Blondie, Alley Most Popular In 2,500 Votes

Roanoke, Va.—Two weeks of balloting among readers of the Roanoke Times and World-News in the “Comic Strip Popularity Contest” ended with 2,500 votes being cast.

The winners:
Blondie in the World-News.
Gasoline Alley in the Times.
Uncle Remus in the Sunday Times.

The Bumstead strip received 1,920 votes and piled up 7,551 points (on a placing basis of 5-4-3-2-1) while the Alley folks got 1,665 votes and 5,685 points.

Other Favorites
Others in the top five favorites were:

World-News: Dick Tracy, 1,734 votes, 5,872 points; Smilin’ Jack, 1,291 and 4,195; Henry, 1,249 and 2,856; and Little Orphan Annie, 942 and 2,814.

Times: Joe Palooka, 1,508 votes, 4,729 points; Grandma, 1,240 and 4,521; Terry & Pirates, 1,132 and 3,750, and Steve Roper, 1,323 and 3,698.

One of the surprises was Or­phan Annie’s edging out Li’l Abner in almost a photo-finish for fifth place. The Yokum lad got 921 votes and 2,686 points. Another oddity was that Mickey Finn re­ceived more votes (948) than either Orphan Annie or Li’l Abner but so many were third, fourth or fifth position votes that Mickey wound up in seventh rank with 2,306 points.

Trailing in the World-News poll were: Moon Mullins, 662 and 1,523; Toots & Casper, 361 and 721; and The Gumps, 232 and 460.

Back of the top five in the Times were: Rip Kirby, 1,172 and 2,934; Dotty Dripple, 884 and 2,553, and Mary Worth, 932 and 2,505.

Uncle Remus got 973 votes and 3,626 points in capturing the honors among the “Sunday only” comics. Others in the top five were: Barney Google & Snuffy Smith, 828 and 2,910; Donald Duck, 864 and 2,364; Steve Can­yon, 658 and 2,266, and Mickey Mouse, 675 and 1,892.

Most Ballots from Papers
Trailing in order back of the top five “Sunday only” strips were:

Rusty Riley, Bringing Up Father, Ozark Ike, Buz Sawyer, Smitty, Katzenjammers, Tim Tyler, Polly & Her Pals, Flash Gordon, Popeye, Elmer, Room & Board, Tillie the Toiler, and Just Kids.

More than 1,000 women cast ballots in the poll, about 850 men, 325 boys and 300 girls.

M. W. Armistead, III, assistant to the publisher of the Roanoke newspapers, found the contest, which he directed, proved so popular he had to increase his staff of tabulators. It was conducted with minute attention to details.

The ballot was carried several times in each paper, and ballots were placed in the lobby of the newspaper office, along with a ballot box. The bulk of the returns came from ballots clipped from the papers and mailed in but several hundred ballots were left in the ballot box.

Least Popular
At the opposite poles from Blondie and Gasoline Alley, which won the “most popular” titles in more than 2,000 reader ballots, came Tillie the Toiler and Flash Gordon.

Tillie, who ran 36th in popularity ranking, got almost the same number of votes from men and women, but boys disliked her more than girls.

The newspapers’ pollsters said the order of the unpopularity “‘amazed” them because some of the “most popular” funnies drew many negative votes. The order of unpopularity was given as follows: Tillie the Toiler, Flash Gordon, Room and Board, The Gumps, Ozark Ike, Toots and Casper, Just Kids, Steve Canyon, Elmer, Polly and Her Pals, Dotty Dripple, Rusty Riley, Barney Google, Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Li’l Abner, Katzenjammer Kids, Popeye, Tim Tyler (tie), Grandma (tie), Moon Mullins, Mary Worth, Rip Kirby, Bringing Up Father, Buz Sawyer, Smilin’ Jack, Smitty, Uncle Remus (tie), Henry (tie), Steve Roper, Mickey Finn, Joe Palooka, Mickey Mouse, Dick Tracy (tie), Donald Duck (tie), Gasoline Alley, Blondie.

2 comments on “News of Yore: 1951 Comic Strip Poll

  1. Clearly there’s something wrong here.

    Never mind that half of the favorites come from Tribune-News, but KFS’s 2nd rated favorite after Blondie is … drum roll please … Grandma.

    Art Lortie

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