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Bill Hinds to hang up Cleats this Sunday

Bill Hinds, the creator of Cleats, has decided to bring his comic strip to a close citing the need to focus on other projects that are more economically profitable. The last strip will run this Sunday. Cleats was created back in 2000 at the request of Lee Salem at Universal Press. Bill had a successful feature called Buzz Beamer that ran in Sports Illustrated Kids and a sports feature for kids seemed like it would sell well. They launched the sales drive the day before 9/11. Bill tells me, “you can imagine no one was in the mood to buy a comic strip for awhile.”

The strip started to pick up papers and Bill began expanding the scope of the strip to include other sports to overcome what he felt was a cultural bias against soccer. He made other changes in writing over the years. As he explains:

I realized, eventually, that most families usually dabbled in more than one sport. So, I expanded to all sports. I also cut down on extended story lines and tried to stick with daily gags surrounding week-long themes. The humor I was going for at the beginning of the run was recognition humor. The kind of humor that will have people saying, “you must be watching my life.” That’s quite different from Buzz Beamer, which is crazy slapstick, and Jeff Millar’s satirical writing in Tank McNamara. Speaking of Tank, some people couldn’t seem to separate Cleats from Tank. The term Tank Lite came up a few times online, and the Cleats writing was occasionally attributed to the innocent Jeff Millar.

In the last couple of years the writing in Cleats has become quirkier as I decided to entertain myself. I can’t think of a particular strip that stands out in my mind, but Edith and Dee are my favorite characters. By the way, many of the characters in Cleats are based on real people, including Jack’s grandmother Bertha who is based on my wife’s grandmother Bertha. The real Bertha is in her late 90’s, and is disappointed about losing her celebrity status.

Bill tells me that this Sunday – the final Cleats – is one of his favorite Cleats strips. It’s an appropriate farewell strip with an equally appropriate for Halloween.

Community Comments

#1 Jeff Stanson
October/26/2010
@ 12:47 am

Bill, Cleats is the first strip I can recall following exclusively online. It was never available in my local paper, but I followed it from the beginning via the online services. Because my boys played and still follow soccer, a lot of it really rang home for our family. We?ll miss it.

#2 Darryl Heine
October/26/2010
@ 7:51 pm

Cleats is ending the same day another comic strip called My Cage ends.

#3 Rich Matarese
October/31/2010
@ 12:57 am

I can’t tell Mr. Hinds how disappointed I am to learn that he’s decided to discontinue *Cleats*. I’ve found it to be consistently entertaining and commonly spot-on when it comes to the interests and activities of the children in my family.

I’m going to miss his characters, and I have to wonder just what the hell he construes as “more economically profitable” projects requiring him to give up an established syndicated strip the potential of which he has not yet in truth exhausted.

Meanwhile, of course, I sincerely hope that if it has to be replaced, it will be replaced in national syndication by Chris Muir’s *Day By Day*.

#4 Becky Beq
October/31/2010
@ 9:28 am

Aw, I just love Cleats! The strip with Abby going to short hair inspired me to donate my own hair to Locks of Love. Thanks for the laughs Bill!

#5 J Hill
October/31/2010
@ 9:37 am

Being a player – parent of soccer players – referee – fan of – coaching. Bill was able to give you all sides of the spectrum. When you love the sport and enjoy it like I do – it’s not often you can find someone that can express the ideas like Bill.

I will miss everything about it!

#6 Dave Jensen
October/31/2010
@ 8:56 pm

As a schoolteacher, I’ve enjoyed the kids in Cleats tremendously and am very sad to see the strip come to an end. However, kudos to Bill for ending it before it faded. Unfortunately, many cartoonists don’t have the grace to do that and just keep drawing the same tired old jokes in their strips forever and ever.

#7 M.A. Fults
November/1/2010
@ 6:12 am

To Bill Hinds,
While I read Tank periodically, since I found Cleats back in ’03 I have read every single strip. I will miss it very much and am deeply saddened (if not shocked!) to see it go. I too, find Edith to be one of my favorites, loving books and still a great goalie. Her mentor and friends are also greatly enjoyed… How about a book, Bill…??? I wish you the best, and if things turn around that the kids can be resurrected…well, I believe there are many who would be overjoyed!

#8 allen allan
November/2/2010
@ 9:49 am

Dear Mr, Hinds;

I am broken hearted that you have stopped Cleats.
I found the comic very entertaining, but more importantly,
it has been a point of common refernce between myself and
children when I first meet them.

Please reconsider you decision.

I used to read Tank, but stopped many years ago. I have only once read Buzz.

I do not recive Cleats in my local paper, so online has been my
source. Cleats is read first thing upon my waking.

Sincerly;
A very loyal fan

#9 Mike Cook
November/15/2010
@ 6:01 pm

Thank you for a great,extremely enjoyable comic strip, Mr. Hines. Great stories about families enjoying sports together.

Hopefully, Universal Press (or someone out there) will have the decency to reprint the entire collection in book format. This old reader loves comics in book format to read, and enjoy, over and over again.

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