Looking at the changes from the beginning of 1979 to the beginning of 1980, we see a pattern developing. Both Doonesbury and Hagar the Horrible continue their big gains again this year as they did last year. Doonesbury gained 15 papers this year while last year it gained 8, making an impressive total of 23 papers in the past two years. Hagar the Horrible gained 13 papers this year while last year gaining 12 papers making a total 25 papers. Those gains pushed these two strips into the 4 and 5 position on the total leader chart.
Panel cartoon Family Circus gained 12 papers, pushing it closer to take the top panel cartoon crown form Dennis the Menace. Also, the newer panel Ziggy gained an impressive 9 papers.
The three year old Shoe strip gained 11 papers making it the most successful strip that started in 1977.
An old timer, Wizard of Id, gained 8 papers. Garfield began its climb adding 7 papers. Even Peanuts, already in a huge number of papers, gained another 6.
Also showing excellent gains were Annie, Beetle Bailey, Guindon, Lockhorns, Marmaduke and Winthrop, each gaining 4 papers.
Many papers continued to have little faith in new strips, showing that the off the cliff performance of Best Seller Showcase last year was no fluke. The Rookie of the year of 1978, Winnie the Pooh, lost the most papers with 15. Other new story strips were also big losers: World’s Greatest Superheroes lost 11 and Incredible Hulk lost 6 papers.
The NEA package features were also hit hard with the following strips losing a bunch of papers: Berry’s World was down 12, Short Ribs lost 9, Our Boarding House down 8 and Alley Oop lost 6 papers.
Other big losers were They’ll Do It Every Time with 9, Archie and Dunagin’s People with 7, Dennis the Menace and Miss Peach with 6.
Three story strips lost 6 papers each. Steve Canyon for the last 2 years has lost 6 papers each year. Rick O’Shay lost 6 papers, but in that case many replaced it with Stan Lynde’s new strip, Latigo. Star Hawks also lost 6 papers too, but only some for the new science fiction strips — half of them were replaced by either Buck Rogers, Star Trek and Star Wars, while the other three were just dropped.
In the past three years following the history of Star Hawks it seems to have never been a success for the syndicate. Starting with only 6 papers, hitting a high of 9 at the end of 1978, and falling to 3 at the beginning of 1980. Star Hawks has a very popular following in the comic book world, being published in Menomonee Falls Gazette, Comic Reader and Amazing Heroes (That was the first place I saw the strip) and being reprinted not by one company but three companies over the years. It has a nice cult following but it failed as a newspaper feature. A good golden age comparison would be Dick Moores’ Jim Hardy; it was not one of United’s successful strips, lasting only six years, but had a very successful run in comic books.
In the section about the rookies of 1979 we discussed that this was the last year of the new adventure strips. After three years of gains we will now start to see the slow demise of the genre, leading to today when we are now down to 5 dailies and one Sunday strip. So, starting with this year we are going to go year by year and see the end of a great genre.
|Title||# of Papers||Change since Last Year|
|Star Wars (new)||50||+50|
|World’s Greatest Superheroes||23||-11|
|Steve Roper and Mike Nomad||22||-4|
|Buck Rogers (new)||13||+13|
|Star Trek (new)||12||+12|
|Conan the Barbarian||9||-3|
|Rick O’ Shay||4||-6|
|Mandrake the Magician||2||N/C|
|Secret Agent Corrigan||1||N/C|
|Tim Tyler’s Luck||0||N/C|
|Jeff Hawke (Ended)||0||-1|
The total came to 581 slots for story strips, up from 532 slots last year. This will be the last time the adventure strip total would go up from a previous year.