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Posted at 1:00 PM ET, 09/ 3/2009

How Do You Read 'Em? The Comics Reader Personality Test

By Michael Cavna

'GARFIELD' (UPS)Enlarge Image

It was the damnedest thing I'd seen in weeks. My buddy, an avid comics-page fan, was reading the funnypages from right to left. I don't mean the individual strips -- I mean the actual pages.

"Have you always read right to left?" I asked my buddy, who's thoroughly a Westerner. "Dunno," he said. "Must be a habit I picked up reading manga."

Now as a left-hander myself, I'm not completely blown away by this -- I seem to have a somewhat freakish knack for reading words in both directions. But I was intrigued by his approach. Which raises the 'Riffs Reader Question:

What kind of comics reader are you -- if you read any print comics at all? Are you:
1. a Savvy Spot-Checker who samples only a few strips, like a factory-line inspector?
2. a Methodical Omnireader, reading every last strip in your organized path?
3. an Orthodox Left-to-Righter -- starting with the first strip you come across (like, say, "Garfield" in The Post)?
4. an Orthodox Top-to-Bottomer (starting a column with, say, "Zits" in The Post?
5. a Ritualist Reader -- same custom order every day, without deviation?
6. a Bottom (of the Page) Feeder -- (that means starting with, say, "Family Circus")?
7. the Free-Spirited Grazer -- you float, you gaze, you graze, drifting toward whatever strips look the most appealing and fresh that day?
8. Other?

Color me deeply intrigued. Meantime, I won't even ask about "Doonesbury" and "Frazz."

By Michael Cavna  | September 3, 2009; 1:00 PM ET
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definitely drift around and read just the ones that catch my eye.

Posted by: jessecline | September 3, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Start at bottom right hand side, read everything beneath the fold, and then read above the fold starting in top left hand corner. (We always tear out the comics page before reading, so this is not quite as odd as it seems - it's easier to read a single page in this way. Why do we tear it out, do you ask? We've been saving the funnies since 1985 - originally we just saved the colour Sunday ones, but sometime in the 90s started to save them all. Every five years or so, someone will open a box and start reading at random, it's great to see strips you had forgotten all about.)

Posted by: marshlc | September 3, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

in the SA Express-News I read random, Because I read in custom order on line: Houston Chronicle BYOCP, Comics Kingdom custom(tho SAE-N), custom and from left to right. On Sundays, Seattle P-I replaces HOChron and read from bottom up almost all of them. I end up reading some twice and some in color depending on site. WaPo on line is random reading.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | September 3, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Right to left. Mainly because I'm skipping the content of the section and the comics start at the back of it.

Posted by: em15 | September 3, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Back when I had access to the "real" paper, I always read the comics from right to left (back to front), and I usually read section 2 before section 1 (yes, back then the Post actually had two sections of comics). The reason for this had absolutely nothing to do with manga, it was simply that I was saving the best (Calvin and Hobbes) for last.

Now that the few remaining good comics are sprinkled throughout the section, I read them in more or less random order, generally hitting everything except for the soap opera/Spiderman garbage.

Posted by: kilby | September 3, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

2+4 Every comic top to bottom, left to right. If I am in a super hurry I will read just Zits, PBS and Sally Forth.

Posted by: yellojkt | September 3, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

I used to be #5, but now I've just lost patinence with so many cookie-cutter wastes of space that now I'm #1. Frankly, the shrinking of the comics has decreased my patience with them as well.

Posted by: tomtildrum | September 3, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I ended my paper subscription after the latest round of insulting the customers intelligence - I mean, after the last round of "reformatting" and "consolidation". Now I read the comics online, in alphabetical order, skipping the dreck like Andy Capp and The Family Circus.

Posted by: drewdane | September 3, 2009 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I read the Las Vegas Review Journal in paper form, the Post,on line, top to bottom, but only the ones I'm familiar with. The Seattle Times and Post on line, the first to get Crankshaft and Frazz and the other to get 7 others. Then I have emailed to me 2 other sites with selected comics. Think I'm hooked? I'm in my 70s and have read all the comics I can get my hands on since I've been about five or so!

Posted by: 2old2readcomics | September 4, 2009 2:24 AM | Report abuse

I start out online with the discontinued strips and the ones with lots of text that are nearly invisible in the shrunken print edition. That's about half a dozen.

Then left to right for the remaining 8 or 10 in the paper, purely out of force of habit. Anyone with sense would just read them all online, since on the days when that popup ad for some resort hotel isn't blocking every other page, the online strips are in a far better format. But old habits are hard to break.

Posted by: andym108 | September 4, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

I read specific comics in the Post that aren't carried in the Boston Globe and follow the same - although not logical - order. But when I read the Globe, I tend to graze and now that I think about it, I start at the bottom of the page.

Posted by: mhasegawa | September 4, 2009 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I read only my favorites, lst column top to bottom, 2nd column same, 3rd column ditto. I read a total of 18 cartoonists. Then I drop down to the idiot section, the editorial cartoon panels (liberal city).

Posted by: Esling | September 4, 2009 7:22 AM | Report abuse

All the comics I read come up in pretty much the same spot on my computer monitor; which is what I switched to a couple of years ago when the continuing shrinkage of the print format strips made them too hard to read with my aging eyes.

Posted by: greggwiggins | September 4, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

I am definitely a Number 5. I read them in my preferred order, and the day doesn't feel right if one is missing.

And no, I'm not normally obsessive-compulsive. Only with my comics. Which also must be read before the news to gird myself for the bad stuff ahead. ;-)

Posted by: Sue_Clark | September 4, 2009 8:30 AM | Report abuse

U-shaped - Top left down, right bottom up.

Posted by: necj218 | September 4, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Read comics in the Post, starting with Judge Parker, moving down and over. Look at Comics Kingdom and other paper websites for additional comics. Also go back and read comics at, where you can go back quite a few years and read the serials/story comics at your own pace.

Posted by: Jam893 | September 4, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

When I was a kid, I was a big time Ritualist Reader. I read the comics in the same order every day, in a pattern designed to end at Calvin and Hobbs (saving the best for last.) Then the Post "reorganized" the comics, and I almost had a nervous breakdown at the ripe old age of 12. As an adult with limited time I'm more of a Spot Checker. I only read the 6 or 7 strips that I find most interesting. Although I consistently save Doonesburry for last.

Posted by: ishkabibbleA | September 4, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

Wow, a lot of people have put some thought into this!

#7 here. If it's got an interesting-looking illustration (or if I pick out a weird/intriguing word) I'll stop to read it, but there are too many unfunny newspaper comics to read the whole thing every day. (Not bitter! I'm just not the demographic the comics are aimed at..)

Posted by: RKaufman13 | September 4, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I am a #2 - HOWEVER, I do NOT read the re-cycled strips - Peanuts, FBoW and 98% of Garfield. Wilmington News Journal (a Gannett paper) went wild and crazy when it added PBS - but we can't get them to dump the junk - I think after the last round of layoffs - the do not even have a features editor any more.

Posted by: gvanderlek | September 4, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I read the comics pages -- especially Sunday's -- right to left, skipping my six or so favorites, and then reverse, reading the favorites only.

Posted by: pltrgyst | September 4, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

I read left to right, top to bottom, skipping only a few.

But the order in which I read the pages changes depending what I'm reading in the rest of the Style section.

Posted by: oceanchild | September 4, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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