Since we started this survey one thing has remained constant: when an NEA strip is cancelled and the syndicate replaces it with a new strip, that new strip will have fewer papers than the cancelled strip. This is a normal process during this time because some papers either choose another strip from the NEA package (one they weren’t previously running) or jump ship and choose a strip from another syndicate.
In 1985 we have the opposite; Levy’s Law was cancelled and replaced by Arlo and Janis; the new strip got into 28 papers, compared to 22 for the cancelled strip. That good start, helped by being an NEA replacement, takes our honors as the top rookie of the year.
Coming in second this year we have Luann (News America) with 15 papers; this strip of course will eventually earn a place as a perennial top strip. In third place we have a strip that will become a modern classic, Calvin and Hobbes (Universal Press) with 14 papers.
Other decent debuts were Hartland (King) with 11 papers, Robotman (NEA) and Orbit (Asterisk) both with 10. Asterisk was a new start-up syndicate, and Orbit was their first offering. Here is the complete list of rookies:
Perky and Beanz – 6 (Tribune)
Sydney – 6 (United)
Bizarro – 4 (Chronicle)
Caldwell – 4 (King)
Off the Leash – 4 (United)
Inside Out – 3 (Tribune)
Cheeverwood – 2 (Washington Post)
Tyler Two – 2 (Tribune)
Zippy the Pinhead – 2 (San Francisco Examiner)
Executive Suite – 1 (United)
Eyebeam – 1 (Self-syndicated)
Furtree High – 1 (local feature of Ottawa Citizen)
Winston – 1 (News American)
Top 5 Strips that began between 1977-1985
Garfield (1978) – 197
Shoe (1977) – 108
Bloom County (1980) – 98
For Better or For Worse (1979) – 88
The Far Side (1979) – 76