Statistics April: Nancy Turns Out To Be A Gift To Me


All right, so, I have my reasons to suspect that the new artist doing Nancy will have caused strange things to happen to my readership statistics. Let me just check here.

Yeah, OK, so that’s roughly what I figured. There were 3,590 page views around here in April. Down from March’s 3,773 but still. That’s four months in a row I’ve been above 3,590. This is going to go so to my head. There were 1,988 unique visitors as best WordPress can tell; that’s the greatest number of unique visitors since Apocalypse 3-G. Still hasn’t quite broken 2,000, though. There were 1,917 in March and 1,982 in February and there we go. I need to troll more obviously for unique readers.

The reader-engagement stuff dropped again. A mere 177 likes in April, down from 241 in March or 207 in February. The number of comments plummeted to 43, down from 84 and in February 121. With this trend I can expect May to see eight comments. That sounds about right.

Bar chart of readership figures, with four months in a row of total views between 3,500 and 4,000.
It just looks so adorably like the Central Business District is building a whole mess of new skyscrapers. I think it’s got a better composition than last month’s chart had.

So why do I say the new Nancy brought me readers? First, here’s the top five posts from the month:

So I know some of what happened. The new Nancy is getting a lot of comment, including from the Onion’s AV Club. I expect that the AV Club articles about Nancy have as related posts Apartment 3-G talk, and that would bring some attention to my updates about how nothing was happening in the strip before the strip stopped happening altogether. A lot of the most popular posts after the top five were Apartment 3-G-related, or features of other comics. The most popular piece that wasn’t about comic strips was In Which My Calendar Wants Me To Do The Unthinkable, and that was like the 218th most popular posting in April. The most popular long-form original piece was If It Is Not The End Of The World, and that wasn’t all that well-liked. The most popular statistics piece was What Textbooks You Need To Major In Mathematics so at least amusing exactly myself works for some people.

There were 76 countries sending readers here, which is way over March’s 75 or February’s 70. Of those countries 21 were single-reader ones, down from 25 but up from February’s 18. I don’t know what’s happening there. Still, here’s the roster of them:

Country Readers
United States 2,882
Canada 148
India 71
United Kingdom 70
Brazil 29
Australia 27
Germany 26
South Korea 22
France 19
Singapore 18
Italy 17
Mexico 11
Norway 11
Denmark 10
Finland 10
Indonesia 10
Russia 10
Spain 10
Sweden 10
Switzerland 10
Portugal 9
Romania 9
Hong Kong SAR China 8
Netherlands 8
Philippines 8
Ireland 7
Israel 7
Serbia 7
United Arab Emirates 7
European Union 6
Hungary 6
Poland 6
South Africa 6
Chile 5
Japan 5
New Zealand 4
Trinidad & Tobago 3
Turkey 3
Argentina 2
Bangladesh 2
Bulgaria 2
Czech Republic 2
Estonia 2
Greece 2
Kenya 2
Laos 2
Lebanon 2
Lithuania 2
Malaysia 2
Pakistan 2
Sri Lanka 2
Taiwan 2
Ukraine 2
Venezuela 2
Vietnam 2
Austria 1
Cambodia 1
China 1
Costa Rica 1
Egypt 1
Georgia 1
Ghana 1
Guam 1
Iraq 1 (**)
Jamaica 1
Latvia 1 (*)
Macedonia 1
Mauritius 1
Montenegro 1
Myanmar (Burma) 1 (***)
Nepal 1
Puerto Rico 1
Slovakia 1 (*)
St. Kitts & Nevis 1
Thailand 1
Uganda 1

I’m surprised to see how much the United States readership dropped (3,111 in March to 2,882 in April) and that other countries picked up most of the readership gap. Latvia and Slovakia were single-reader countries for the second month in a row. Iraq for the third. Myanmar/Burma is on its fourth month on this single-reader streak.

Insights tells me that as of right now — the 1st of May, with that piece about old-time-radio-based movies being on TCM — I’ve had 121 posts so far this year, drawing 265 total comments and 812 total likes. My word total is up to 82,553, indicating I wrote 18,630 words for here. Add to that the 8,494 words I wrote for the mathematics blog and I ground out 27,124 words for my WordPress blogs. That sounds impressive until you consider how many of those words were either “well”, “just”, or “since”. (7,422 of them.)

The Insights panel says my average post has been 682.3 words. At the start of April that was 687.3. The average post got 6.7 likes, down from 7. The average number of comments was 2.2 per post, same as through the end of March.

I’d like to invite you to keep reading Another Blog, Meanwhile. I haven’t turned on the subscribe-by-e-mail option, although I’m considering it. You can add this to your WordPress reader by using the “Follow Another Blog, Meanwhile” button in the upper right corner of the page. There’s an RSS feed of articles that you can use too. There’s also an RSS feed of comments although I don’t know why that’s an option. I suppose for blogs that get to actually discussing things in depth. And finally over on Twitter I’m @Nebusj and I do try to announce new posts when they’re ready. Thanks for reading and whatnot, all not-quite-two-thousand of you.

What The Heck Happened To Nancy and Why Does It Look Weird?


So, the comic strip Nancy has a new writer and artist. After Guy Gilchrist’s retirement there were a couple weeks of reruns, and a striking lack of news about the comic. Then this weekend I saw, on Usenet group rec.arts.comics.strips, the announcement that Olivia Jaimes would take over the comic, with the first new strip Monday, the 9th of April.

Michael Cavna’s article about this, in The Washington Post, reports that Jaimes is a pseudonym, and that Andrews McMeel Syndication is being secretive about her career. Editorial director John Glynn’s quoted saying he had seen Jaimes’ web comics and been impressed. And that Jaimes is a fan of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy.

I don’t know anything of Jaimes’ web comics (so far as I know). That she’s a fan of Nancy seems clear enough from the first strip, which is all I’ve seen as I write this. Much of what’s celebrated in Bushmiller’s style is a minimalist but well-drafted style, and a narrative flow that gets weird to surreal. The strip for the 9th is straightforward in form, but web-comic-weird or surreal in content.

Person looking at Nancy, who's got a slice of pie. 'That Nancy, she's such a sweet girl.' (Nancy sprinkles salt on the pie; also she's got a soda pop.) Person: 'Also a salt girl.' (Nancy holds a stick of butter; a hamburger and a muffin have appeared.) Person: 'And she doesn't shy away from that butter, either.' (Close-up on the person.) 'Wow, she is going IN on that cornbread.'
Olivia Jaimes’ Nancy for the 9th of April, 2018. This should not be pulling my focus but is … is salting pie a thing? I’ve heard about cheese on pie, as a thing New Englanders do to remind us that we’re not New Englanders and they’ll tolerate us being around but would rather we not. But that’s cheese. Salt is a new one on me, or on my pie.

So, I’m curious where this is all going. I don’t know anything about Jaimes that I haven’t said already. I also don’t know whether the strip is going to resume, or respect, the characters and situations that Gilchrist had developed. (The important ones there being Aunt Fritzi marrying Phil Fumble, and Sluggo being adopted by that pair of truckers.)

Also yeah, it’s never a good idea to read the comments. But you might want to read the comments. There’s a lot of GoComics.com commenters who hate the new look. I don’t fault them not liking it right away. The change in style is drastic and without transition. But, wow. I don’t know if it’s a bit, and I’ve decided I don’t care. The guy who hopes the new artist will “not [be] afraid to be politically incorrect and offend a few men-hating Feminazis [sic]”? That’s some of the choicest opinion on the goings-on of Nancy and Sluggo that I’ve seen in a long while. So, sure, go ahead and hope that Nancy will continue to be a bulwark against the onslaught of the New Atheists, Guy Who’s Watching The Culture-Clash Play Out In Nancy.

By the way, the reporting on this has made me aware of a new book by Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden. It’s How to Read Nancy: the Elements of Comics in Three Easy Panels, and apparently it’s 274 pages that thoroughly investigate the Nancy comic of the 8th of August, 1959. I’m glad to have found a library near me that has a copy. I accept the thesis that Bushmiller’s work had more skilled craftsmanship behind it than people realize. I’m not sure I can imagine 274 pages about a single strip that isn’t even a Sunday panel. And yes, I say that as a person who owns more than 650 pages worth of book about containerized cargo. But you know your business better than I do. Enjoy, if you like.

Comic Strip Piranha Club Ending; Nancy Possibly Ending; Bizarro Shifting Bizarreness Source


So, had a bit of a shock when I checked in on rec.arts.comics.strips yesterday. You know the results from the subject line here but, whatever. Bud Grace, of The Piranha Club, announced he’s retiring the comic strip as of the 3rd of February. That’s after thirty years of the comic strip, originally titled Ernie and renamed after it turned out the club generated more stories than Ernie himself did. (This was posted by Charles Brubaker, cartoonist for Ask A Cat and The Fuzzy Princess and one of those working cartoonists that I kind of loosely know.)

As ever, I’m disappointed for the comic strip to end. I don’t suppose The Piranha Club ever got regard as an A-list comic strip. But I remember it as one of my happy discoveries in the late, incompetently run Strips weekly newspaper. It’s always been a reliably good belly-laugh, slightly-risque comic. Also Grace’s retirement reduces the number of comic strips drawn by physics majors out there. (Bill Amend, of FoxTrot, is another, which will surprise nobody who’s read his mathematics jokes.)

Also announced and shocking, and coming to me by way of D D Degg by way of the Nashville Tennessean: Guy Gilchrist is retiring after over two decades producing Nancy. His last strip is to be the 18th of February. His tenure’s to end with Aunt Fritzi marrying Phil Fumble. Phil had been a characer in the earliest days of the comic, and was reintroduced in late 2012. There’s no word yet as to whether the syndicate will find a successor writer or artist, or whether they’ll put the comic into eternal-reruns, or whether they’ll just let it end.

Nancy was, I admit, one of those comics I didn’t pay much attention to growing up, even though it ran in the evening paper and was even still done by Ernie Bushmiller at that time. In the 90s I would occasionally hear cartoonists talk about the astounding design of the comic, and wondered what they were on about. Since then, and especially with the rerunning of vintage Nancy strips on Gocomics.com, I’ve been able to see what they were on about.

Gilchrist doesn’t write or draw with the uncanny streamlined precision of Bushmiller. I imagine he’d agree, much as I expect he’d agree if I were to say he wasn’t as good a singer-songwriter as Ray Davies is. But he did a number of things to revitalize the comic strip, including bringing back long-forgotten characters such as Phil and the Goosepimple family (an Addams Family expy that originally appeared in the Nancy comic books), which expanded the kinds of jokes the comic could do. And he also brought a appreciation that was fanboyish in the good ways, particularly to musicians. One could complain that it’s as obvious as the editorial-comics celebrity-at-the-Pearly-Gates cliche to have Fritzi talking about how great (say) David Bowie was one lead-time after his death. But how often do you see comic strip characters who are both aware of pop culture and actually just like stuff?

Last other major bit of news, that again I get thanks to D D Degg, is about Dan Piraro’s Bizarro. It’s going to stay Dan Piraro’s comic on Sundays. But Wayno, Wayne Honath, is to take over the weekday comics. For this, he’s dropping his own, thematically similar, Waynovision. Wayno’s filled in some weeks or collaborated with Piraro on Bizarro in the past, and this succession makes fantastic sense. It’s just a shame to have two lushly-drawn offbeat panel strips merged into one.

Oh, and, since people do wonder: Gasoline Alley has been in unannounced reruns the last couple months. As best D D Degg can work out, the last new daily was on the 11th of November. Yes, I’m freaked out that this was just when I did my last recap of the venerable comic strip. There’s no public word about what’s going on or just why. I plan to recap what’s run when the comic’s turn comes again in I think early February. But I am worried that the comic might have quietly lapsed into the comatose state that befell The Katzenjammer Kids. At least we noticed this before nine years went by.

Little Nemo in Mathmagicland


Gocomics.com recently starting running Winsor McKay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland, that early-20th-century comic that gives you that image of a kid in pajamas racing a bunch of giant green kangaroos in space, and that you don’t really see much else of. There’s fair reason for that; the strip is over a century old, for one, and it’s plodding in the way comic strips from before the Great Depression tended to be, and the comic strip’s real appeal is in its powerful graphic design, best appreciated by seeing the strips in large form. And Gocomics.com happily offers that: you can zoom the strip in to a pretty good 1400 by 1824 pixels, big enough to really read.

Nemo approaches Slumberland's castle, passing a series of strange animals and giant bugs and such, before waking up.
Little Nemo in Slumberland for the 10th of June, 1906, rerun on Gocomics.com on the 14th of December, 2014. Nemo approaches the Slumberland castle, of course, without getting in.

So here’s the strip they reran on December 14, showing Nemo trying to get into the palace in Slumberland, something it’s taking an awfully long time to get around to because stuff keeps turning up. And it’s cute. And then look at the last panel, where — as in every Little Nemo strip (comic strips in that era were apparently required to pick a joke and use it every single installment) — Nemo wakes up, which is part of why it takes him so long to get anywhere in slumberland.

'You'll have to give that boy another dose of turpentine and sugar. Listen to him, he can't sleep. He eats too much candy, dear.'
The final panel for the Little Nemo in Slumberland strip of the 10th of June, 1906: one of Nemo’s guardians feels the kid needs ‘another dose of turpentine and sugar’ to sleep.

“You’ll have to fetch that boy another dose of turpentine and sugar”?!

I realize this strip is from 1906, back when society’s major concern was that childhood mortality wasn’t sufficiently high as to keep weaklings from reaching adulthood, and that it wouldn’t be until 1915 that President Wilson would push through legislation approving the existence of childhood, as a concept, for up to eight hours per week. But, still, turpentine and sugar? Nemo can be a bit annoying, mostly because he takes stuff so passively (although a couple strips back when he was a giant he saved a guy who’d been menacing him, which is likable), but I don’t think he deserves drinking turpentine till he passes out.

Well, if you’re all satisfied with that, my mathematics blog reviews another bunch of comic strips that mention mathematics themes, and don’t you worry: I do some actual calculus in it. If you read, you’ll learn how to evaluate \int_{0}^{\infty} e^{\pi} + \sin^2\left(x\right)dx and it may surprise you to learn just how easy it is.


Oh, also, I could really use some help having a reaction to Nancy today. Thank you.