Gazette comics survey reveals variety of interests

Lyle Muller
Published: November 14 2010 | 12:01 am - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 8:23 am in
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NOTE: Tables showing the survey data are at the end of this blog post.

A couple of people have asked me what happened to a comics survey The Gazette did this year. This was a survey in which we invited people to rate comics they love and comics they would not miss.

We have results but the responses were so much of a mixed bag that they would not lead us to change what we offer on our daily and Sunday comics page. Two main reasons lead us to this conclusion:

1)      Some comics wildly popular in one age group are equally unpopular in other age groups. The best examples are “Pearls Before Swine”, “Get Fuzzy” and “Blondie”.

Fifty-seven percent of people under the age of 35 say they love “Pearls Before Swine”, as do 48 percent of those ages 35 to 54. Forty-three percent of people under the age of 35 love “Get Fuzzy”; 36 percent of those ages 35 to 45 love it.

Those over 55? Only 23 percent love “Pearls Before Swine” and the rate for “Get Fuzzy” is a miserable 13 percent. In fact, these two comics would be the first people who are 55 or older could live without by margins of three of every four people for “Get Fuzzy” and three of every five for “Pearls Before Swine”.

Thirty-seven percent of people under the age of 35 who responded to the survey and 31 percent of those ages 35 to 45 said they love “Blondie” and percentages close to that in both age groups likewise said they can live without the comic. But 70 percent of the people age 55 or older who responded love “Blondie”. Only 13 percent said they could live without it.

Great disparity, indeed, which is connected to the second reason these data would not lead us to change comics:

2)    Three of every four people responding to the survey were age 55 or older. While true that a majority of our Gazette newspapers readers are age 55 or older – the proportion is three of every five readers – our survey did not give us a representative sample of our potential audience base.

If you recall, this was a voluntary survey. A total of 1,202 people responded when it was taken in April and May. Only 68 respondents were under the age of 35. Another 231 were ages 35 to 54, with the remaining 903 were age 55 or older.

You’re just using numbers to skewer what you want to say, the skeptical among you will say.

But the fact is, people from different age groups like different comics. We want to provide something for people of several ages, from our loyal, longtime readers who like the familiarity of  “Blondie”, “Beetle Bailey” or “Dennis the Menace” to the next generation of readers who like the edgy “Pearls Before Swine”, “Bizarro” or “Get Fuzzy”.

If the survey showed us anything, it was that we have a mix that can appeal to more than just one age group.

You likely are interested in the results of some hot-button comics, so here they are:

  • Strong support across age groups: “Pickles”, “Zits” and “Baby Blues”.
  • Love “Doonesbury”: under 35 – 27 percent, ages 35-54 – 36 percent, ages 55 and older – 28 percent. Can live without it: under 35 – 57 percent, ages 35-54 – 54 percent, ages 55 and older – 60 percent.
  • Love “Mallard”: under 35 – 25 percent, ages 35 to 54 – 27 percent, ages 55 and older – 37 percent. Can live without it: under 35 – 65 percent, ages 35 to 45 – 60 percent, age 55 and older – 51 percent.
  • Love “Dustin”, which was introduced in January and which ignited protest from fans of Retail, which it replaced: under 35 – 16 percent, ages 35 to 54 – 20 percent, age 55 or older – 22 percent. Can live without it: under 35 – 75 percent, ages 35 to 54 – 64 percent, age 55 and older – 55 percent.

The survey was taken at a time of backlash over the disappearance of “Retail”, to make room for “Dustin”. We want to introduce new comics from time to time. Syndications make pitches throughout the year to publications like The Gazette, trying to convince us to pick up a new comic. Some are glad to suggest that dumping an older comic would make room for the new one.

I’d be interested in knowing whether “Dustin” has grown on readers . I know the comic hasn't been everyone's cup of tea but would like to see the response now that it has settled into the daily routine.

I also thank those of you who responded. We need to keep checking.

Here are data from the surveys:

Comic Strip Ranking by Age

Respondents that Love It

Under 35 35-54  55+ 
Baby Blues78% Zits82% Pickles87%
Zits77% Baby Blues79% Pluggers72%
Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)69% Pickles79% Zits71%
Pickles69% Dilbert65% Blondie70%
Pearls Before Swine57% Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)62% Baby Blues69%
Close to Home52% Close to Home53% Family Circus68%
Garfield52% Pluggers51% Dennis the Menace66%
Bizarro50% Non Sequitur50% Beetle Bailey63%
Dilbert49% Bizarro48% The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)62%
Frazz43% Pearls Before Swine48% Hagar the Horrible56%
Get Fuzzy43% Frazz44% Garfield55%
Pluggers43% The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)42% Wizard of Id51%
Cul De Sac38% Mutts42% Close to Home43%
Family Circus38% Garfield40% Dilbert38%
Blondie37% Wizard of Id40% Mallard Fillmore37%
Non Sequitur35% Family Circus38% Mutts36%
The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)32% Dennis the Menace37% Non Sequitur35%
Wizard of Id32% Doonesbury36% Frazz34%
Beetle Bailey29% Get Fuzzy36% Bizarro33%
Dennis the Menace29% Hagar the Horrible36% Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)32%
Doonesbury27% Beetle Bailey34% Doonesbury28%
Hagar the Horrible27% Cul De Sac33% Pearls Before Swine23%
Mallard Fillmore25% Blondie31% Working It Out (Daily Only)23%
Sherman’s Lagoon (Sunday Only)22% Mallard Fillmore27% Dustin22%
Mutts21% Working It Out (Daily Only)23% Cul De Sac21%
Working It Out (Daily Only)21% Dustin20% Sherman’s Lagoon (Sunday Only)19%
Dustin16% Sherman’s Lagoon (Sunday Only)20% Get Fuzzy13%

Comic Strip Ranking by Age

What comic do you Don't Read/Can Live Without

Under 35  35-54 55+
Dustin75% Dustin64% Get Fuzzy76%
Working It Out (Daily Only)68% Sherman's Lagoon (Sunday Only)61% Pearls Before Swine65%
Mallard Fillmore65% Mallard Fillmore60% Sherman's Lagoon (Sunday Only)65%
Sherman's Lagoon (Sunday Only)65% Cul De Sac56% Cul De Sac64%
The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)57% Working It Out (Daily Only)55% Doonesbury60%
Doonesbury57% Doonesbury54% Dustin55%
Dennis the Menace53% Get Fuzzy53% Working It Out (Daily Only)54%
Non Sequitur51% Family Circus46% Frazz51%
Family Circus50% Beetle Bailey45% Mallard Fillmore51%
Frazz50% Dennis the Menace44% Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)49%
Hagar the Horrible50% Frazz43% Dilbert48%
Cul De Sac47% Mutts42% Bizarro48%
Get Fuzzy47% The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)41% Non Sequitur48%
Wizard of Id47% Pearls Before Swine40% Mutts48%
Mutts44% Hagar the Horrible39% Close to Home34%
Beetle Bailey44% Wizard of Id38% Wizard of Id31%
Blondie40% Blondie35% Garfield27%
Pluggers40% Garfield33% Hagar the Horrible25%
Dilbert38% Non Sequitur32% The Lockhorns (Sunday Only)23%
Close to Home34% Bizarro31% Baby Blues20%
Pearls Before Swine32% Pluggers29% Zits20%
Bizarro28% Close to Home26% Beetle Bailey19%
Garfield26% Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)22% Dennis the Menace19%
Foxtrot  (Sunday Only)18% Dilbert22% Family Circus18%
Pickles16% Baby Blues12% Pluggers16%
Zits13% Pickles12% Blondie13%
Baby Blues10% Zits10% Pickles9% 

Sample size: N = 1,202

Source:  2010 Online and In-Paper Comics Survey, Gazette Communications

(c) SourceMedia Group, 2010

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