Archive for Sunday, May 1, 2005

For better or for worse, reader votes motivate comic-strip switch

May 1, 2005


In December, we asked you to weigh in on your favorite -- and least favorite -- comics.

Ballots came pouring into the newsroom. Hundreds of them.

We found out a lot of you make a point of reading the funnies every day. Your favorites are For Better or For Worse, Zits, Pickles, Baby Blues and Foxtrot.

We also found out that you're passionate about what makes you laugh and what makes you grimace.

And most of you are ready for a change.

"I have answered this survey before," one reader wrote. "Nothing changes. Why do you bother?"

Because we think it's important to ask what you like and dislike about our newspaper. Based on your responses, we're ditching the five strips that received the most "lose it" votes.

We can't promise the cuts will please everyone, but we can guarantee you'll have a say in what replaces the outgoing comics.

Marmaduke, Cathy, Better Half, Sally Forth and B.C. are out.

Better Half runs only on Sundays. We're swapping it out with Opus by Berkeley Breathed, another Sunday-only strip that garnered many requests in the survey. (Breathed's former strip, Bloom County, was widely popular).

Look for ballots Tuesday through Saturday inside the Pulse section and vote for your favorites to replace the strips we're eliminating based on your votes. You can also fill out ballots online at we're losing¢ Marmaduke, Cathy, Better Half, Sally Forth, B.C.What we're offering as replacements¢ Strips: BoNanas by John Kovaleski, Rhymes With Orange by Hilary Price, Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis, Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley, Tina's Groove by Rina Piccolo, Frazz by Jeff Mallett, Girls & Sports by Justin Borus and Andrew Feinstein¢ Single panels: Bizarro by Dan Piraro; Brevity by Guy Endore-Kaiser and Rodd Perry; Working It Out by Charlos Gary; Off the Mark by Mark Parisi

But you get to vote on what fills the other four daily vacancies. We'll run a ballot Tuesday through Saturday inside the Pulse section with 11 options -- seven strips and four single panels. Or you can vote online at The deadline for submitting ballots is May 11, and you may vote only once -- either by mail or online.

When choosing replacement strips, we considered the wide range of folks who read our comics -- men and women ages 9 to 92, according to the survey -- and the tone and topic of what we already offer.

And in follow-up interviews, we asked some respondents why they loved their favorite strip and hated others.

Jane Cooper, of rural Lawrence, is a big fan of For Better or For Worse because she can relate to it.

"It parallels the simple, everyday experiences people have in a humorous way," she said. "It gives good insight, good perspective."

But Cooper, 66, could do without Non Sequitur. She just doesn't get it.

"My son likes it; he's 42. He understands that humor," she said. "I don't understand it. It's not funny."

Susan Jordan is also fond of For Better or For Worse, but for more aesthetic reasons: She likes artist Lynn Johnston.

"I think that her artistic skills are wonderful," said Jordan, an artist and retired gifted education teacher. "She manages to capture the way the bodies of the children nestle up to their mom or dad, and she does that in just a few strokes.

"As an artist, I look at the artistic skills of the comics. My husband does, too, since he taught art for 37 years."

Jordan said she couldn't have done a better job picking comics to get rid of if she'd been able to make the decision herself.

"I hate B.C., proselytizing for fundamental Christianity," she said. "Now Doonesbury proselytizes for the causes I consider the right ones. He's been around since the '60s, and we liked it then. And now I think it's more crucial than ever."

Dan Schriner, 47, jokes that he's a little sad to see Cathy go.

"I think it's so irritating, it's funny," he said.

He'd rather see a strip like Blondie hit the road.

"It's too old," he said. "I was reading that when I was a little kid. The older cartoons just aren't relevant. They're not funny."

His favorite comic? Zits.

"I have an 18-year-old boy who IS Zits," Schriner said. "It hits the mark EVERY day, so it's funny. Even HE thinks it's funny."

The Journal-World conducted a comics survey in December. Based on ballots from more than 500 readers, this is how you feel about the comics that run in the newspaper:Most "love it" votes1. Pickles (562)2. Zits (556)3. For Better or For Worse (539)4. Baby Blues (513)5. Foxtrot (394)Most "lose it votes"1. Marmaduke (335)2. Cathy (300)3. Better Half (195)4. Sally Forth (182)5. B.C. (180)Most "favorite" votes1. For Better or For Worse (178)2. Zits (117)3. Baby Blues (93)4. Pickles (86)5. Foxtrot (54)Most "least favorite" votes1. Cathy (118)2. Marmaduke (111)3. Doonesbury (97)4. B.C. (62)5. Family Circus (43)

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