Which comic features appear in 500+ papers?

With Tundra now in over 500 papers, I wondered how exclusive that milestone was. I estimate there are about 230 features in syndication (excluding Sunday only illustration/puzzle type features or those aimed at a foreign language). I asked each of the syndicates which of their features are running in more than 500 papers. Of the 230 features only 33 (or 13.6%) are in the 500+ club. Fifteen of those run in 1000+ papers (6%).

The average age of these syndicated comics is 37.3 years old. The oldest is Blondie at 82 years. The youngest (if counting when it went into syndication) is Tundra at 6 years. One could argue that Tundra existed as a regional strip since 1991, in which case Pearls Before Swine would take honors as the youngest strip in the 500+ club at 12 years.

There are only two feature with a credited woman producing the strip – Lynn Johnston (For Better of For Worse) and Susie MacNelly (Shoe). I believe others, like B.C., have women (Perri Hart, Patti Pomeroy) who work on the strip, but aren’t credited.

Half of the features (16) could be considered “legacy” features wherein the original creator is no longer producing it. Two are re-runs.

Here’s the breakdown by syndicate:

Universal: 14
King Features: 13
Creators: 5
Tribune Media: Undisclosed

And finally here is the list of those running in over 500 papers. Features with an * indicate that they run in over 1000 papers.

  • Andy Capp (Creators)
  • B.C. (Creators) *
  • Baby Blues (King Features) *
  • Beetle Bailey (King Features) *
  • Blondie (King Features) *
  • Born Loser (Universal)
  • Dennis the Menace (King Features) *
  • Dilbert (Universal) *
  • Doonesbury (Universal) *
  • Family Circus (King Features) *
  • For Better or For Worse (Universal) *
  • Frank & Ernest (Universal)
  • Garfield (Universal) *
  • Get Fuzzy (Universal)
  • Hagar the Horrible (King Features) *
  • Hi and Lois (King Features) *
  • Luann (Universal)
  • Marmaduke (Universal)
  • Mother Goose and Grimm (King Features)
  • Mutts (King Features)
  • Non Sequitur (Universal)
  • One Big Happy (Creators)
  • Peanuts (Universal) *
  • Pearls Before Swine (Universal)
  • Pickles (WPWG)
  • Rose is Rose (Universal)
  • Rubes (Creators)
  • Sally Forth (King Features)
  • Shoe (King Features)
  • The Lockhorns (King Features)
  • Tundra (Self-Syndicated)
  • Wizard of Id (Creators) *
  • Ziggy (Universal)
  • Zits (King Features) *

24 thoughts on “Which comic features appear in 500+ papers?

  1. Alan, just curious if these numbers use the formula weekday=1 sales point, weekend=1 sales point (thus 500 papers could be any combination, to a minimum of 250 publication titles)?

    Interesting post nevertheless.

  2. It’s pretty depressing that Peanuts is still in over 1,000 papers despite being in reruns for over 10 years.

    Peanuts would still make money without reruns, so why wouldn’t Universal want to push newspapers to replace Peanuts spaces in newspapers to turn something like Cul De Sac into a huge hit.

  3. Alan, thanks for digging into that. It’s very interesting and the Mike’s observation is a good clarification!

    David, I’m guessing that a syndicate will not do anything intentionally to reduce sales of a strip, rerun or not, as it could easily backfire and simple reduce their revenue. How hard they are trying to get their newer strips in would be a fair question though.

    None-the-less, kudos to Chad Carpenter and Bill Kellogg for expanding Tundra’s reach … definitely a good strip to do it with but still quite a hard feat.

  4. Three youngest strips with 1,000 papers

    1. Zits (1997)
    2. Baby Blues (1990)
    3. Dilbert (1989)

  5. And, I’m proud to say, only two of those listed in the 500 Club are missing from the “One Fine Sunday in the Funny Pages” traveling exhibit. Which is currently on display in Pittsburgh at the Toonseum, just so you know. :0)

  6. Yeah, it’s easy to call some of these ancients, but to build and maintain this many sales, you gotta admit they’ve done (or did) something right. They got to the patent office first. Time to reinvent 🙂

  7. Here’s the status of what 500 club comics appear in the Tampa Bay area newspapers (Tampa Bay Times/Tampa Tribune)

    Baby Blues
    Dennis The Menace
    Family Circus
    For Better of For Worse
    Get Fuzzy
    Hagar the Horrible
    Hi and Lois
    Mother Goose and Grimm
    Non Sequitur
    Pearls Before Swine
    Rose is Rose
    Sally Forth
    Tundra (Mon.-Sat. only)

    B.C. (Sunday only)
    Baby Blues
    Beetle Bailey
    Family Circus
    Frank & Ernest (Sunday only)
    Get Fuzzy
    Hagar the Horrible
    Hi and Lois
    Mother Goose and Grimm
    Mutts (Sunday only)
    Non Sequitur
    Pearls Before Swine
    Rose is Rose
    Sally Forth (Sunday only)
    Shoe (Sunday only)

    In all the Tampa Bay Times has 24 of the 500-club comics and the Tampa Tribune has 22.

  8. Great list, but now I am curious as to what Tribune Media has that also belongs to the 500+ Club…..

  9. Hey?! -I know it’s not thought of as a comic, BUT the Jumble actually does have a cartoon panel drawn for it every day. It’s in over 600 papers. and yes, it’s over 57 years old. That ought help up the average age.

  10. Very interesting. Just as an aside, my local paper, the Hutchinson (KS) News, recently dropped three legacy strips (Beetle, Hagar & BC) and For Better or For Worse and added Tundra, Dilbert, Reply All and Dustin to dailies and Cul de Sac to Sundays. How often does that happen?? And, boy, are the oldsters FURIOUS.

  11. Actually Peanuts (in some papers) already did 1964. They’re doing 1965 (or 1999) now. 🙂

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