The Gannett 34

The USA TODAY Network/Gannett group has released a list of the selected 34 comic strips and panels that local editors and publishers will* choose from to run in their newspapers – not all will run in all (any?) of the papers.

characters © KFS

From The Fort Collins Coloradoan:

Here’s a look at the comic strips readers will begin finding across all USA TODAY Network newspapers beginning Oct. 2-8, 2023. The number of comics that run daily will vary based on each publication’s weekday and Sunday print edition, but all strips will be available to view daily at

Elsewhere The Coloradoan mentions that:

Roughly two-thirds of USA TODAY Network’s more than 200 publications will make the transition in October.

The chosen strips and panels:

Group 1: Blondie, Zits, Beetle Bailey, Family Circus, Hagar the Horrible, Dennis the Menace

Group 2: Garfield, Peanuts, For Better or For Worse, Baby Blues, Pickles, FoxTrot

Group 3: Pearls Before Swine, Jump Start, Ziggy, Marmaduke, Non Sequitur, Crabgrass

Group 4 Crankshaft, Luann, Baldo, Frank & Ernest, The Born Loser   

Group 5: B.C., Wizard of Id, Close to Home, Argyle Sweater, Mother Goose, Rose is Rose

Group 6: Hi & Lois, Mutts, Curtis, Shoe, The Lockhorns*

*On January 1, 2024 The Lockhorns moved to AMS and was replaced by King Features’ Sally Forth.

The story contains a paragraph describing each comic feature.

The groupings seem to serve no other purpose than to put some breaks in the story’s details. Which doesn’t mean there is not some internal reasoning to the groupings (does running one of the groups titles mean running all of that groups titles? this seems increasingly likely).

That last group was seldom mentioned in previous stories.

*As mentioned elsewhere, some newspapers can and will run comic strips other than the ones listed, but not on their comics pages. For example at The Pensacola News Journal: “Shrimp & Grits by former Pensacola News Journal cartoonist Andy Marlette will remain, albeit in a different location.”

This article has been updated with an additional link and additional remarks

25 thoughts on “The Gannett 34

  1. The interesting factor here is that the Chosen Few are from both AMS and KFS, which suggests (I have no proof) that Gannett made deals with both sources. I still hate taking decisions away from local editors, but it could be worse.

    At one paper, we realized our readers didn’t care about the Sunday roto tab (Parade, USA Weekend, whichever) and that it cost us five figures a year to run it. We decided to drop it when the contract was up, but then got a memo from Corporate that they had renewed it for us.

    We still had to pay for it; they still wanted us to cut our costs. The laugh was that the roto involved was notorious for kickbacks to its subscribers, which we were sure were going to the genius at Corporate who had stuck us with the bill.

    Not saying anything similar is going on here — if they’re saving their local editors money, that’s not bad — but don’t ever turn your back on those folks.

  2. To which I would add that, when I redid the comics page at a paper where I worked, I found that the editor had no idea what he was paying for individual strips or the Sunday pre-print package. He just passed the invoices on to the business department without reading them.

    Gannett may be saving their papers from executives like that.

  3. So, they couldn’t put a group of story/serial comics as an optio?!? Way to go KFS. Nice of you to look out for Judge Parker, Rex Morgan, Mary Worth and The Phantom creators. Or Prince Valiant on Sundays. One editor who responded to my email said the changes won’t take place in her paper until January. She bemoaned not being able to make the decision on her “comics package.” But she said the savings would help them maintain “a high standard of journalism in the newsroom.” D’oh kay.

    1. I’m not sure how much input King Features or Andrews McMeel (or Creators for that matter) had in the decision other than giving the USA TODAY Network a list of their most popular (read: widely circulated) comics, and what kind of bargain rates were available.

      1. So, Gannett didn’t do a “readers survey?” They just took the syndicates word for what is popular. Again, how about a little variety. Not ONE story/serial comic strip is being offered up. Incredible. Incredibly ignorant and dumb.

      2. The readers’ survey was only part of the equation; as The Pensacola News Journal said: “After much research, contemplation and planning – along with survey results from loyal print readers …”

      3. “Survey results from loyal readers” meaning it wasn’t a real survey and they remain in the regular newspaper trap of catering to their existing-and-fading audience instead of seeking to expand it.

    2. “story/series” strips are doomed in print papers. Case in point – my hometown paper published 7 days av week and from its inception, it carried the adventure strip (I would eventually work on) – they carried it every day.
      Financial trouble hit – they started printing 4 days a week, then down to 3, now 2 … they dropped continuity strips because it’s hard to follow a strip you should read every day if the paper only runs a few days a week. Papers nationwide will drop series strips in favor of a gag strip ; something readers can pick up, get a chuckle then put it down … and maybe do that again next week.

  4. My local Gannett paper ran their list of future comics. Removing 8 from the page from 20 down to 12. Most of the missing will be my favorites, of course. The most modern comic will be one that started in 1991. It’s a rebranding of the local paper, to go along with decreasing local news, the “local” editor being 150 miles away.

    1. And I like 5 out of 6 in Group 3. Yours is one of the 5 I like. But I get my comics from Go Comics so I don’t have the 1 I don’t like taking up space.

    2. And those five are matched by at least six or seven other re-run and zombie strips elsewhere in the list. As Watterson once wrote, “the competition for newspaper comic space is Darwinian.” I am thankful that I do not have to read anything published by Gannett.

      1. Sadly, “reruns and zombie strips” offer a bigger profit margin for syndicates. When an artist takes over a long established strip, the syndicate sees it as an opportunity – “We won’t have to pay the traditional 50/50 split thereby allowing us to keep more of the money… maybe the new guy will do okay as it slowly fades away”.
        They’ll allow that as they keep an eye out (perhaps) for the next new thing they can market with the hopes of getting it in the (shrinking) newspaper market… where they’ll take 50%.

    3. See my comment about the financial split – dead cartoonists aren’t costly, and they’re (syndicate) not about to pay much to someone new taking on the creative duties of a property THEY own (they = syndicate).

      1. If you’re asking me – clearly a dead cartoonist doesn’t create anything.
        A syndicate however, may continue to offer a strip in the form of reruns, or a new person could be hired yet the strip still offered as “comic strip by dead guy” or “dead guys comic strip’.

  5. As much as I like Peanuts, do we really need to keep reprinting them in newspapers? Maybe give new comic artists a chance?

    1. I totally agree. I guess to the Peanut$ people, “Happine$$ i$ a warm bank account!”

  6. The fact they are not using all 34 of these comics is sickening. If they did, I would’ve felt a lot better about this drastic change. Not only will a lot of my favorites be gone (including Hi and Lois, Curtis, and The Lockhorns), but this is seriously going to hurt any of the other cartoonists who benefited from having their comics run in a Gannett newspaper over the years. Some of the new strips my paper, the Burlington Free Press are going to be offering, aren’t even that amusing. That’s the only paper in the ENTIRE state of Vermont where I could find Hi and Lois, Curtis, and The Lockhorns (even if it was Sunday only in this paper I enjoyed it)! I get that Gannett wants to save money, but they could’ve at least let the customers have some input. The customers should matter in this case!

  7. My local paper(Telegram & Gazette) pretty much got rid of the newer comics like Dustin, Big Nate, Wallace the Brave, and Six Chix. Also lost Mother Goose, Hi & Lois, and Mutts since they are in a different group. The number of comics went down from 21 to 18 and they only take up 3/4 of the page instead of the full page. Can’t imagine how bad the Sunday edition is going to look.

  8. Roughly 15 of these 34 comic strips are not created by their original creator. Call them ‘zombie strips,’ ‘dead cartoonist strips,’ etc., whatever you like.
    I don’t think you can put blame on anyone working on those comic strips because at this point, to have a comic strip on the comics pages, it’s looking more and more like you have to work on a strip that’s already there. And that reality sucks. I imagine we are missing some really great comic strips because of this. And we’re missing out on seeing some really great talent.
    It’s depressing no one has figured out how to take comic strips out of the newspaper and put them in a new venue where they can thrive. But cartoonists need to be fairly paid for their work and that’s the hurdle. If I ever win the lottery …
    If your Gannett newspaper has dropped your favorite comic strip(s), I say drop your subscription. Money seems to be the only thing they value.

    1. Newspaper cartoonists who have also created children’s books …
      Stephan Pastis, Rob Harrell, Paul Gilligan, Dave Coverly, Dana Simpson, Keith Knight, Lincoln Peirce, Norm Feuti, Dan Thompson, Rick Stromoski, Patrick McDonnell, Berkeley Breathed, Bill Watterson, Gary Larson, Wiley Miller, Lynn Johnston, Maria Scrivan, Terri Libenson, Michael Fry, Charles Schulz, Mort Walker, Bill Schorr … and those are just the cartoonists I can think of off the top of my noggin.
      There are options to keep cartooning without relying on newspapers.

      The future of comic strip collections seems dismal. Though complete collections like Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side, Pogo, etc. seem like a GREAT idea. They’re like a textbook for anyone wanting to study cartooning.
      As a kid, I spent my allowance on “Garfield” and “Peanuts” comic strip collections. Occasionally when my dad took us to a used bookstore, I’d get any other ones I could find … Beetle Bailey, B.C., etc.
      I was just in a book store and their Humor section had less than 10 comic strips in book collections. Pretty depressing.

      1. Yeah, I can remember going to the (not-so) local newsstand and among the half-acre (exaggeration) of “pocket” books was a section of mmpb display racks eight high and ten wide (no exaggeration) reserved for comic strip and MAD mass market paperbacks. And the bookstores then had shelves of comic strip books.
        Now the mmpb comics are no more and the bookstores have maybe three short shelves for comic strip books among their humor titles (no adventure). It’s depressing when comparing them to the comic book reprints section (which itself pales to the Manga section).

    2. Stacy – good post! Considering the shrinking newspaper market, syndicates are scared to try anything new. They’ll rely on established properties. If they already own it, they won’t have to split the pay 50/50 with an unwitting new artist.
      If they like a new artists style, rather than gamble their papers on the new persons strip, they may hire the new person and have them “twist” an old established strip into something that barely resembles the original. (I could mention a few strips proving this approach)
      I wouldn’t fault the artist – they just want to make a living. I would place the blame on the editor for the “new direction”.
      Sadly, yeah, we’re missing out on some really cool strips because a couple of “real smart” people at the top think they know what the public wants.

  9. For all those who would like to reach a decision maker at Gannett, who was involved in the final “34”, you can reach out to Stacey Martin at Gannett.

    Specifically I asked about why there are no serial/story/adventure comics in the offerings. She, of course offered up the “audience research”. But, was responsive, suggesting that many comics will be offered online, but not in print. I sometimes feel the goal is to stop printing newspapers altogether.

    It seems they are implementing this in stages at Gannett. With the smaller markets first and the larger markets on January 1st.

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