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Out of the Gene Pool changes name to Single and Looking

Single and Looking
Single and Looking © Matt Jantz; Dist. Washington Post Writers Group. Used by permission

The Washington Post Writer’s Syndicate has announced that Matt Janz has changed the title of his comic strip feature, Out of the Gene Pool, to Single and Looking

The reason for the change stems from a change in the strips focus over time.

“This is a natural progression from Out of the Gene Pool,” explains cartoonist Matt Janz. “Over the past five years, some of my characters moved to the forefront while others faded into the background. I started focusing on the lives of my most popular characters and, since most of them happened to be single (and looking), I found myself writing more dating-oriented material.”

Writers Group Comics Editor Amy Lago explains further:

“The strips Matt drew about the pitfalls of being single were just better than anything else out there. When we looked at the marketplace of comic strips, there seemed to be all kinds of single-parenthood strips, family strips and relationship strips, but nothing that really spoke to the millions of people out there still searching for ‘the one’ — or, for that matter, searching for any one. With Matt’s decision to focus on ‘single-hood,’ it seemed natural to change the name to something reflecting that.”

Community Comments

#1 jim tierney
@ 3:35 pm

Interesting. I’ll admit I hadn’t been following Out of the Gene Pool, but the wording of these explanations reminds me of another cartoonist who decided to focus the scope of his strip on a particular market…

I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who reads the strip regularly… Does this change signify that ‘Single and Looking’ will now become the Dilbert of single life?

#2 MJ
@ 3:58 pm

Jet Packs is some cool reading. Great job.

#3 jim tierney
@ 4:13 pm

thanks! I try. (three days a week at least)

#4 Joe Parker
@ 5:27 pm

I follow Out of the Gene Pool regularly, and have for a number of years. The new title simply reflects the reality of what’s been happening in the strip of late. Quite frankly, I like the change…to me these are the best characters in the strip. I think that Matt Janz is playing to the strength of his humor and the strip is that much better for it.

#5 Chris
@ 6:01 pm

I had noticed that the focus of the strip had changed as well. You rarely see Rufus, Andy, or their kid anymore, so I guess those are the characters that faded into the background. On the WPWG website, the characters of Sam, Jackie, and Zoogie all appear, and Travis is in the new logo on this site.
I also hope that Madame Red will continue to appear, since she’s always a riot.

I like “Out of the Gene Pool”/”Single and Looking,” and I think it has continued to be funny even with that change. Godd luck with your new name, Mr. Janz!

#6 Charles Brubaker
@ 6:13 pm

As a reader of the strip for years (even before my newspaper started running it), I have noticed changes.

Best of luck to Mr. Janz. Hopefully, my paper will still carry it.

#7 Garey Mckee
@ 6:52 pm

Reading between the lines, I wonder if this was a decision by Matt or a “suggestion” by Washington Post Writers Group. Amy Lago herself in the article just about came right out and said that the title change would make the strip more marketable.

#8 Stewart Mason
@ 1:58 am

I’ve been reading Out of the Gene Pool for a little over a year, and was completely flummoxed by the title until I saw a Sunday strip where Madame Red used it as an imperative. And once I realized what the title meant, I also noticed that it had nothing to do with the content of the strip.

Similarly, I never could figure out what on earth Rufus was doing there (and for that matter, I didn’t know his wife’s name at all until it was mentioned earlier) or what his connection to the other characters was. So let me see if I’ve got this straight now: Sam and Zoogie are roommates and Zoogie is some inexplicable anthropomorphic thing like Brian from Family Guy. Jackie is Travis’ mom and Sam’s friend and, now, co-worker. And Madame Red is the super in their building. Is that about right?

#9 Charles Brubaker
@ 3:18 am

About right.

Also, Andy (Rufus’ wife) is Sam’s sister.

#10 Eric Burke
@ 5:25 am

I don’t think the title change will improve sales of this strip. I tried following it after it won the Fine Toon Fellowship but could never really get into it. While this new focus on single life may very well inject new life into the strip, I just don’t think the strip is strong enough to claim new newsprint real estate.

#11 Rod
@ 6:30 am

I think it’s worth trying, so long as it isn’t a synical attempt by the syndicates to remain relevent – or they may end up like Dad trying to Dance to modern music.

Changing with the times, or the themes and obsessions that define the age in which you live is very important for a cartoonist – unless you are actively selling faux-nostalgia or reprints from a by-gone age. I think we might see more of this attempt at making the current crop of strips more relevent as new titles like Secret Asian Man make some of the older strips appear dated and out of touch.

I think it may become a battle of ideologies as the old reliable readers of comic strips frankly, well, die off, and the focus of the strips has to shift to become more relevent to the readership that is expected to find them funny. Strips like Zits, Between Friends and For Better or For Worse (stopping and/or changing soon)are ideally placed to straddle the gap between the generations, but others are not.

A lot of the new strips may well fail because they are targeting a new generation that isn’t interested in newspaper comics, and many that remain must either change to attract a readership that is aged somewhere around 35 to 50, what was once the Baby-Boomer generation, perhaps the last generation, for a number of reasons, that will consume its news and its comics in this format.

I think an inability to change will sound the death knell for many older/legacy strips.

#12 Chris
@ 3:22 pm

To finish explaining the connections between the characters to Stewart, the son of Rufus and Andy (whatever his name was, I never actually caught it) was Travis’s best friend.

#13 Charles Brubaker
@ 7:45 pm

The kid’s name was Miller, not Stewart.

#14 Worth Gowell
@ 10:24 am

When Matt Janz won the FineToon Fellowship, I believe his strip was called “Critters” … or something like that.

I loved the artwork and was sorry when the Chicago Tribune dropped it. Personally, I always laughed at the cartoons featuring boorish, clutzy Rufus. I could relate.

It also looks like the Washington Post Writers Group has ended any hope of reviving the FineToon Fellowship. I know it was on hiatus for a while, but the FTF page has been taken off the WPWG site.
Too bad. It sounded like a great program for us neophytes.

#15 Charles Brubaker
@ 8:41 pm

Yeah, it was called “Critters.”

Originally, it was about a group of normal people (Jackie and Andy being among them) moving in to a town full of weird “critters,” (who, IIRC, looked like Rufus).

According to Janz, the syndicate thought the concept was weird, so he changed it for syndication.

#16 Charles Brubaker
@ 8:45 pm

I admit, I wonder why Fine Toon Fellowship was thrown out. It was a good concept.

Three strips from the FTF were syndicated – “Gene Pool” and “Bo Nanas” from WPWG. One other strip, “The Humble Stumble,” was a finalist for the Fellowship and was eventually picked up for syndication by United Media.

It gave new talent, and it’s something that’s worth doing again.

#17 Chris
@ 2:31 pm

Just out of curiosity, when does this change take effect?
Because when reading “Gene Pool” in the Sunday comics, the headline still said “Out of the Gene Pool.” I double-checked and it is the same way on both and, both of which still file the strips under the old name.

In fact, only the WPWG’s own website has marked the change. When you reported it, I assumed it would take effect immediately, but maybe I was wrong.

Also, I second the sadness about the demise of the FineToon Fellowhip. I always thought it was a good idea.

#18 Charles Brubaker
@ 2:45 pm

The name change will occur on July 30th.

#19 J P
@ 7:55 pm

I had been wondering for some time now what happened to Rufus, Andy, and their son, which had been the primary focus of the strip. About six months ago, or so it seemed, they disappeared from the strip and the rat suddenly took on more prominence.

So this explains it. Frankly, I think the comic has deteriorated. The characters of Jackie and the slacker guy just are not that interesting. I will probably stop reading it.

#20 Sarah
@ 9:16 am

I am all for the change in focus if it means more Jackie and Travis, as they are among my favorite comic strip characters lately. Sam is less interesting, though his obsession with cleanliness is amusing in a dating context. I hope that Rufus and Andy will still be around some of the time. Rufus is funny for all his brutish ways and Andy is a good straight woman for Jackie. Zoogie… I still don’t quite get him. In any case, this is one of about 5 strips that I enjoy in the Washington Post and I hope it continues for years to come.

#21 Neel
@ 9:48 pm

Rufus was one of my favorite characters – he reminds me of one of my good friends. I hope he doesn’t fade. I find Jackie more annoying than enjoyable. I’m glad Zoogie is sticking around, but I’m not a fan of the new direction.

#22 Derrick Sly
@ 12:38 pm

Personally, I will probably continue to read the new strip (although the jury is still out on that), but I much preferred the older format, I thought that Rufus especailly was a great character, and while I like Sam and Jackie, I think that Jackie and Andy was a much better pairing. Sam and Jackie seems somewhat contrived at times. I also think that the Zoogie character has become somewhat annoying in recent strips much moreso than in the past strips. I hope that we see a reappearance on some level of the original core characters, because I felt it was a much better comic when they were around.

#23 Georg Waldhof
@ 5:26 pm

I always thought Zoogie was a wombat, the mascot of the local baseball team. I also always liked Zoogie – he’s kind of a egocentric, meglomaniacal Joe Cool. The sort of individual most college guys wish they were, if only they weren’t so insecure.

Or Baby Boomer’s imagine that they were “back in the 60’s, maan”

Never could figure out why Andy wound up with Rufus, ‘cept that she liked small furry critters ;-))


#24 Rebecca Beeman
@ 5:59 pm

What happened to Matt Janz? Why did he end “Single and Looking?”

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