This summer, the Utah Jazz will be trying out new talent to see who they might want to add to the team this fall.
We are doing the same ... for our comics lineup.
Last month, we conducted tryouts for two new prospects: "Dustin" and "Home and Away." Now we want your help in evaluating their performance.
The two strips ran in our daily comics section during May in place of "For Better or Worse" and "F-Minus."
They weren't necessarily intended as replacements for these strips. We just needed to find room for the new strips, so we gave the two veteran strips a vacation. "For Better or for Worse" and "F-Minus" return next week while we evaluate the new talent.
That means polling the fans.
The initial feedback we received when we introduced "Dustin" and "Home and Away" was mostly from fans of "For Better or for Worse" and "F-Minus" who wanted the strips brought back. You can read some of the written comments we received on our website at www.standard.net and leave some of your own comments.
Now, though, we are interested in how the new strips stack up.
On Page 2A today is a poll where you can vote on whether you think "Dustin" and/or "Home and Away" should make our comics team. We are also running a poll online. As always, you can e-mail me with your thoughts at the address below.
We have received a number of phone calls since the tryouts began, and there is an interesting demographic trend. There seems to be an age gap between fans of "For Better or for Worse" and "F-Minus." Most of the older callers complained about "For Better or for Worse" being replaced, but praised our decision to take out "F-Minus."
Those who complained about "F-Minus" missing were younger readers (under age 30). And many of them said they couldn't care less about whether we ran "For Better or for Worse."
"F-Minus" is more irreverent, which seems to appeal to younger readers. I only mention this because we will factor in demographic appeal in deciding which comics to add and which to replace. We want to have a mix of comics that appeal to as many people as possible.
We plan to repeat the process in July by trying out a couple more strips and then running polls to see how they rate. If you want to suggest which strips should go on vacation during these tryouts, feel free to do so.
What we are looking at is acquiring some fresh talent we hope can benefit the team. And yes, we plan to retire some strips to do so.
As with professional athletes, sometimes comics lose a step over the years and just aren't contributing the way they used to. Some of them also have bloated contracts that don't justify their contributions, especially when we are looking to bring in new fans.
Some of you might see this whole process as overkill, but we think engaging readers, and potential readers, is smart business.
Besides, it's also fun.
Andy Howell is executive editor of the Standard-Examiner. He can be reached at (801) 625-4210 or firstname.lastname@example.org.