LAST WEEK, Comic Riffs asked whether readers would stick with a feature despite a high rate of repeats.
At least a couple of hundred Post readers, it turns out, are apparently willing to abide an almost historically high rate of reruns for a strip whose creator is neither dead nor on sabbatical. Provided, that is, that the comic is “Get Fuzzy,” and that the creator is Darby Conley.
Since announcing last week that Conley’s strip was being dropped from its funny pages, The Post has received feedback from more than 250 readers — the clear majority of them registering their disappointment/dissatisfaction/disgust over the move. From these calls and letters and emails, we can especially glean a few things:
1. Many of the respondents either don’t care about the high rerun rate — or don’t even realize they’re reading reruns.
Post comics producer Donna Peremes has cited that during one stretch this year, “Get Fuzzy” ran reruns 27 out of 44 weeks. And unlike with “Doonesbury” (hiatus) and “Curtis” (illness), the syndicate gave no reason and no discount, Peremes says.
Yet, wrote one respondent, whose opinion was echoed often: “Is this [high rerun rate] really worse than the strips where the writers have simply run out of ideas and recycle the same gags and plot lines endlessly, like ‘Hagar’ and ‘Mark Trail,’ to name but two?”
Another reader wrote: “I haven’t noticed that over half of the last 44 weeks were reruns. But I do agree that you shouldn’t be paying a lot of money for old material.”
And somewhat entertainingly came this reply from a Rerun Denier:
“RERUNS — what RERUNS??? Certainly the strip re-visits similar themes (Ferrets, Wordsmithing, Canadians, Vegans), and the characters remain the same -- but that is part of the charm and does not constitute a repeated strip.”
(All that helps explains why Conley can continue to be in repeats at a rate that frankly shocks some of his professional colleagues.)
2. Some readers don’t want to hear about costs.
The Post may pay a premium for those reruns, but some respondents see that as the cost of doing business to get a strip like “Get Fuzzy.”
Writes one reader: It’s an “insult your readers” to cite that a strip is expensive. “Of course if something is good it cost money. When you do crappy strips like this new thing then of course it cost less money.”
And writes another: “I can believe that what you stuck in to replace Get Fuzzy [”Wumo”] costs the Post less. You get what you pay for.”
3. Readers have questions aplenty about the e-mail polling The Post uses to measure the popularity of its comic strips.
One of the most common concerns was reflected in this reply: “How do I get my opinion to count or how do I get to be polled next time?”
Some questioned the methodology, and whether non-comics readers or online-only readers were “skewing” the poll. For the record, Peremes shares this explanation from the polling service:
“This was an online survey that was sent via email to a random sample of our print subscribers (mix of 7-day and Sunday only). ...We were asking about a variety of different things in this survey. We received a total of 1,622 completed surveys but only Comics readers (those who said in the survey that they read either the Daily or Sunday comics always, almost always or sometimes) were asked your comics questions. So, 813 is the total sample that was asked and responded to the comics questions. The results are the % that read each comic among comics readers.”
4. To a considerable number of respondents, the move makes sense.
Writes one reader: “After seeing WUMO for several days, it was definitely the right call to cut Get Fuzzy.”
And this was one of the strongest replies from the anti-”Fuzzy” camp: “I was so happy to read that Is Get Fuzzy is gone from The Post!!! It is the worst comic strip I have ever seen & I can’t believe it took the Post this long to terminate it I. It was absolutely not understandable at all.”
5. Reruns or no, the love for Bucky, Satchel and Rob often runs deep.
Writes one reader: “I was horrified to see you are dropping ‘Get Fuzzy.’ Satchel, Bucky & Pinky are the best way to start the day -- the perfect balance of sweetness and snark.”
And another: “Time is a very precious commodity for me. My job requires extraordinary amount of time including travel to politically challenged locations around the world. I always made time for Bucky.”
(Bucky’s narcissism would dine well on that fine morsel.)
6. Some replies were so completely unique, they achieved their own level of entertainment value.
First, as with many a Post Comments thread, one reader managed to turn even this political:
“Perhaps you should check with your readers before dropping fantastic content. Darby Conley’s strip should have been right up your readers’ alley. He often writes about political topics in a fun way; his main human character is a liberal as is the sidekick dog. And, the crazy cat is the conservative. Just what your liberal paper should love.”
And lastly came a very thoughtful reply that nevertheless contained this unintentionally funny passage:
“”The Post’s comics lineup has been heading south a long time on the inteligence scale.”
I can’t top that.
But I’d like to hear Bucky take a crack.