Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Rise in Features for Young Adults: Several Recently Launched Comics and Columns Are Aimed at Least Partially at People in Their 20s

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

A Rise in Features for Young Adults: Several Recently Launched Comics and Columns Are Aimed at Least Partially at People in Their 20s

Article excerpt

Several recently launched comics and columns are aimed at least partly at people in their 20s

IT IS NO secret that daily newspapers are not attracting as many younger readers as they would like.

Syndicates and news services have tried to help in recent years by launching a number of features for kids, but material aimed at readers in their 20s has not been as plentiful.

That, however, has been changing to some degree. In recent months, Universal Press Syndicate introduced "The 20s" column by Richard Sullivan, Tribune Media Services started the "Dave" comic by David Miller, United Feature Syndicate came out with the "Guy Stuff" strip by Jim Ryan, and Chronicle Features began distributing the editorial cartoons of Ted Rail.

Syndicates did not necessarily launch these and other contemporary features solely because they might be popular with the 20s generation. Tribune Media managing editor Evelyn Smith, for instance, noted that her syndicate thinks "Dave" is a "great comic," not just a "niche" strip for young adults.

Indeed, "Dave" and the other aforementioned features have readers of all ages -- yet their audiences do contain a larger percentage of the 20s crowd than many other features.

What is it about a feature that attracts at least some members of an age group that often prefers television and alternative newspapers to mainstream dailies?

The cartoon art may be "hip" and stylized, even abrasive in some cases. And the cartoon or column writing obviously contains material of particular interest and relevance to 20s people, many of whom are in an unsettled time of life when it comes to relationships and careers.

For instance, Chronicle editor/general manager Stuart Dodds noted that the 1963-born Rall's editorial cartoons focus frequently on the recession, which is making it even harder than usual for young adults to enter the work force.

Young adults lucky enough to escape unemployment are often stuck in unsatisfactory jobs, added the 29-year-old Miller, whose comic makes it clear that the "twentysomething" Dave character is not enamored with his job.

Dave and the main characters in "Guy Stuff' are single, just like an increasing number of real 20s people in this time of later marriages. So youngadult readers may find the lifestyle of these characters more relevant than that of the families featured in so many other comics.

"I see a lot of married-with-children comics," said Miller. "Some of them are great, but there is a glut of them."

Twenties-oriented features also contain a great deal of material about relationships, which are an obvious concern for young singles. Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune arts and entertainment editor Joel Welin did express the wish that features talked more about crucial matters such as AIDS and safe sex.

Several of the new features also reflect the fact that people in their 20s tend to have more interest in entertainment -- and especially music -- than adults over 30.

Indeed, there are several new (or relatively new) specialty features with an entertainment focus that gives them wide readership among the 20s generation. For instance, Los Angeles TimesWashington Post News Service president AI Leeds noted that LAT-WP offers a compact disc column by Robert Hilburn of the Los Angeles Times, and he also cited the new Los Angeles Times Syndicate (LATS)-distributed "SoundScan" feature that tracks music sales.

United recently started distributing material from New York City's weekly Village Voice newspaper, which offers a great deal of entertainment coverage aimed at young adults. "One of the reasons we were attracted to the Voice was its music reviews," said United senior vice president/general manager Brad Bushell.

BPI Entertainment News Wire general manager John Morgan noted that the intense interest in music and entertainment among readers in their teens and 20s has helped fuel BPI's fast growth. …

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