The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a comics survey recently. These are usually harbingers of some sort of blood-bath on the comics page like when the Baltimore Sun about a year back axed about a dozen strips and shrunk the remaining comics to a nearly illegible height. Not surprisingly, Foxtrot just edged out For Better or For Worse as the most popular strip and Mary Worth came in as the most hated.
What was really cool is that they linked to a lot of the raw data from their survey and broke it down by gender and age category. They noted for example:
The dislike for "Mary Worth" crossed gender and age lines. The strip came in last overall with male and female voters and in all the demographic groups except the 55-and-older segment, where only "Get Fuzzy" received more "hate it" votes.
The demographics of the survey proved interesting. Nearly as many women (2,689) participated as men (2,780), but "Dilbert" topped the male vote while "For Better or for Worse" was the leading vote-getter among females.
"Dilbert" also finished No. 1 with voters 31-54, the age group that provided the largest block of voters. The 55-and-older group followed, choosing "For Better or for Worse." The 18-30 and 17-and-under age groups had "FoxTrot" at the top of their lists.
Update (12/6/06): See this post for my take on Foxtrot going Sunday-only.
I decided to shake and bake the numbers a little differently. I looked for the comics that had very few “Love It” or “Hate It” votes. Ten of the top twelve in this category were either trial runs or Sunday-only strips, which makes sense, because people hadn’t been able to read enough of them to get a strong opinion one way or the other. From the list of daily strips, here are the most “Meh” strips from the survey:
- Jump Start
- Over the Hedge
- Baby Blues
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- Frank and Ernest
- Dennis the Menace
- Rex Morgan, M.D.
- Get Fuzzy
- Sally Forth
|Chick Strips||Guy Strips|
|For Better or For Worse||Wizard of Id|
|Family Circus||Beetle Bailey|
|Sally Forth||Hagar the Horrible|
|Mary Worth||The Amazing Spider-Man|
|Baby Blues||Frank and Ernest|
|Rex Morgan, M.D.||Prince Valiant|
|Jump Start||Non Sequitur|
|Peanuts (classic)||The Boondocks|
I used a similar method to devise a way of measuring the generation gap. I took the Geezer age range (55+) and compared it to the Young Hipster age bracket (18-30) to see which comics one group liked, but the other hated.
|For Better or For Worse||Get Fuzzy|
|Dennis the Menace||Non Sequitur|
|Hagar the Horrible||Dilbert|
|Frank and Ernest||Watch Your Head|
|Wizard of Id||Red & Rover|
|Sally Forth||Over the Hedge|
|Rex Morgan, M.D||Soup to Nutz|
The surprise winner here is Born Loser among the Geezers. Nobody born after the Ford Admistration reads this depressing comic, but it is a favorite of the early-bird dinner set. Golden Oldies like the Sunday-only Prince Valiant and the other usual suspects pushing their Diamond Jubilee also populate this list. On the other hand, Lio, which (like half of the Hipster-only faves) was only a trial run, appealed to young adults but was Kryptonite to the AARP eligible.
What does it all mean? Anything you want it to. It confirms some prejudices. It also tells the comics editors of the world what comics target what age groups. If you want to keep your drooling old farts around, keep running Beetle Bailey and Hagar. If you expect to lure the college-aged and just-out-of-college crowd away from their RSS webcomic feeds, you better put up some fresh and edgy material.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: What are your favorites? What are the surprises here?