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Gannett’s Carolinas Sunday Comics Shuffle

At the beginning of December 2020 we reported on the Gannett newspapers of The Carolinas setting up a poll in anticipation of rearranging their Sunday Funnies and bring them all into alignment.
The results are in and take effect this weekend.

From Regional Editor Pam Sander for The Jacksonville Daily News:

In December, we asked for your input as we were tasked with creating a new Sunday comics section for 11 Gannett newspapers throughout the Carolinas to support efficiencies in print production. 

Because of their overwhelming popularity, these 10 top strips were grandfathered in: B.C., Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Born Loser, Close to Home, Dilbert, Family Circus, For Better or Worse, Hagar the Horrible and Garfield.  [emphasis added]

You were asked to decide the other 14 spots. 

Your response was amazing. At times, it was overwhelming, as more than nearly 90,000 votes were cast on 13,000 ballots. 

For every Christmas card and “Thank you for letting us vote on this” included with ballots, another 20 made clear a subscription would be canceled if this did not go their way. I truly hope that won’t be the case, and you’ll enjoy the final product.

   
Pickles © Brian Crane; Zits © Zits Partnership

For those who like to keep score, the voting put Pickles and Zits atop the leaderboard, by a landslide, with more than 10,000 votes each. Completing the Top 24, in order of votes, were Hi & Lois, Dennis the Menace, Pearls Before Swine, Baby Blues, Mother Goose and Grimm, Foxtrot, Frank and Ernest, Speed Bump, Jumpstart, Baldo, Sally Forth and Argyle Sweater. [emphasis added]

Specific to The Jacksonville Daily News:

The great news first: The new layout enabled us to increase the total in this newspaper from 22 to 24. (Hocus Focus has been moved out of comics to the features pages in section C.) Also great: The comics pages on Monday-Saturday are not affected. And good: This newspaper is among those with the fewest existing comics affected. Pooch Café, Wallace the Brave and Phoebe and Her Unicorn are gone from your pages, replaced by Baldo, Jumpstart, Argyle Sweater, Hi & Lois and Baby Blues.

UpdateSpecific to the Wilmington Star News:

The great news first: The new layout enabled us to increase the total in this newspaper from 21 to 24. Also great: The comics pages on Monday-Saturday are not affected. And good: Though this newspaper is losing five of its current comics, it is gaining nine other popular ones.  

Those gone are Lockhorns, Pluggers, Shoe, Snuffy Smith and Wizard of Id.  

Comic strips added are Argyle Sweater, Close to Home, Family Circus, Foxtrot, Frank & Ernest, Garfield, Mother Goose & Grimm, Speed Bump and Sally Forth.  

Update IISpecific to the Hendersonville Times-News:

The great news first: The new layout enabled us to increase the total in this newspaper to 24 from 21. Also, great: The comics pages on Monday-Saturday are not affected. And good: Though this newspaper is losing seven of its current comics, it is gaining 10 other popular ones.  

Those gone are Doonesbury; Lockhorns; Peanuts, which no longer produces new strips; Prince Valiant; Shoe; Wizard of Id; and Ziggy. 

Comic strips added are Argyle Sweater, Baldo, Baby Blues, Jumpstart, Mother Goose & Grimm, Pearls Before Swine, Pickles, Sally Forth, Speed Bump and Zits.

Update IIISpecific to The Fayetteville Observer:

The Fayetteville Observer was a big winner in our recent Sunday comics project.   

As a result of the nearly 90,000 votes cast on 13,000 ballots, this newspaper adds six new comic strips, while losing just one, Peanuts, which years ago stopped producing new strips.  

Update IVSpecific to the Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

The great news first: The new layout enabled us to increase the total in this newspaper to 24 from 20. Also great: The comics pages on Monday-Saturday are not affected. And good: Though this newspaper is losing nine of its current comics, it is gaining 13 other popular ones.  

Those gone are Dustin, Bizarro, Doonesbury, Gasoline Alley, Peanuts (which no longer produces new strips), Prince Valiant, Shortcuts, Snuffy Smith and The Phantom. 

Community Comments

#1 George Paczolt
January/30/2021
@ 5:55 am

Look like the hit on the best possible way to handle a conics change.

#2 Steven Rowe
January/30/2021
@ 10:39 am

Gannett does this in other states as well, It’s a buisness decision to lessen the cost by having the same page(s) printed in several papers. This of course also decreases the chance of new strips being able to breakthrough.
The lists I see have Gannett with 14 Carolina newspapers, so 3 get to decide their own comics? or do they have 3 papers without comics? Or did they lose 3 papers?

#3 D. D. Degg
January/30/2021
@ 10:57 am

I’m guessing that a few of their daily papers serving smaller
communities have no comics page or Sunday Funnies.
Though consolidating the same Weekend Comics to one printing
plant seems to make it easier to run off a few more thousand
sections to distribute to those few papers (hey, it ain’t my dime).

#4 Mike Peterson
January/31/2021
@ 5:33 am

I don’t know how many J-schools require a course in statistics, but I assume not a whole lot, since editors persist in using these ersatz comic “surveys.” I redid the comics page at one paper and we asked for input from readers but didn’t pretend it was a survey or that we would make decisions purely by numbers.

Based on responses, you would have to conclude either that (A) older, retired people have more time to respond or (B) that our community was about 87.5% made up of people over 70.

Since we were neither Sun City nor the Villages, we chose (A) and, while we took their feedback under consideration, we redesigned our page for the customers we wanted rather than the ones we knew were locked in.

But then I never went to journalism school, so what do I know??

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