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  What's So Funny?

Post Readers Rate the Comics
Friday, July 17, 1998

For Better or For Worse
Well, we asked for it.

We asked you to rate the comics, and you were more than happy to comply!

More than 15,000 responses poured in after we published a poll in May seeking readers' favorite strips. About 5,000 more trickled in after the deadline, arriving too late to be counted. It took us a while, but we've finally dug out from under the piles of letters and e-mails, and the results are in.

For Better or For Worse was far and away the top comic among the 55 strips and panels that appear in The Washington Post.

More than 10,000 of you said you loved the 19-year-old strip by Lynn Johnston that chronicles the lives of Elly and John Patterson and their family. The comic deals with modern life's trials and tribulations, but it isn't always funny – Johnson has dealt intimately with such issues as homosexuality and the death of a parent in recent years. The emotional story line about Elly's mother dying of cancer and her elderly father moving in with the family touched many readers; however, a few called to complain that comics are supposed to be light and humorous, not morbid tearjerkers.

non sequitur
Non Sequitur
Pointing up the fact that the funny pages have never really been child's play, more than half of the 15,052 respondents in our poll were age 46 or over. Another 30 percent were in the 30- to 45-year-old group.

If this highly unscientific poll is any indication, Washington Post comics fans don't share the rest of the country's love for perhaps the world's most famous feline. Garfield, which finished first in a recent national comics survey, ranked 19th in our poll. However, among Post readers age 11 and under, the cat ruled.

Young or old, just about everyone voted to pull the plug on Rugrats, the newest strip on the block, including a quarter of the 218 children under age 12 who responded. Zippy the Pinhead, which The Post dropped briefly in 1996 but restored after a strong appeal by loyal fans, gathered the second highest number of "Lose It" votes. And Liberty Meadows, which was restored last month after a popular outpouring, also finished among the Top 10 on the drop list. The travails of Frank and Brandy drew strongest support from 18- to 30-year-old men and 12- to 17-year-old males and females.

And, finally, who reads those soap opera strips? A select few, it seeems. Judge Parker, Apartment 3-G, Rex Morgan, Mary Worth and Spider-Man all placed among the 10 Least-Read Strips. But among women 46 and over, almost equal numbers said they love the serial strips as said they don't read them.

As we said when we published the poll, we don't intend to make wholesale changes to the comics pages based solely on the results, but they do provide a sampling of the breadth of reader opinions and highlight predictable differences in taste among the age groups. They also confirm that the comics reach people in different ways: Some strips clearly have
near-universal appeal; others appeal to a small but fervent minority. In the same way that we try to serve all of our readers with varied news coverage, we want to continue to offer a mix of comics. That's why the strips that ranked low will not necessarily be dropped.

Our appreciation to all who took the time to reply. And now, from our home office in Washington, D.C., the Top 10 Most Loved Comics in The Washington Post:

1) For Better or For Worse
2) Sally Forth
3) Peanuts
4) Dilbert
5) Zits
6) Non Sequitur
7) Blondie
8) Baby Blues
9) Hagar the Horrible
10) Shoe

Please click for a vote breakdown by age and gender and a total vote count for all four response choices.
© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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