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Readers come unhinged when Mallard Fillmore dropped at Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle editor admits, dropping Bruce Tinsley’s Mallard Fillmore created quite a stir in Houston.

I hit the trifecta of reader discontent last week (lucky me) with the ongoing immigration debate, the cessation of the comic strip Mallard Fillmore and the announcement by U.S. Rep Tom DeLay, R-Sugar Land, that he will resign from his congressional seat.

But Chronicle detractors, who believe we have been too soft on the illegal immigration issue and too hard on DeLay, must take a backseat to those readers angry that we replaced Mallard Fillmore, a strip hugely popular with conservative readers, with Prickly City.

But, it doesn’t look like they’re going to change their mind.

Community Comments

#1 Mike Nassour
December/25/2007
@ 3:49 am

The Austin Statesman today joins the Chronicle in dropping the unfunny Mallard Fillmore strip. Once again, Prickly City is the replacement.

Is the duck seen anywhere in Texas at this point?

#2 Mike Nassour
December/24/2007
@ 8:49 pm

The Austin Statesman today joins the Chronicle in dropping the unfunny Mallard Fillmore strip. Once again, Prickly City is the replacement.

Is the duck seen anywhere in Texas at this point?

#3 Chris Hardiman
December/25/2007
@ 5:14 pm

I don’t know the answer to your question, Mike, but it’s safe to say that newspapers are filling their conservative strip spots with “Prickly City” now and dumping “Mallard Fillmore,” which has never been funny. I’m not a fan of “Prickly City” either, however. Personally, I think the third (and newest) of these conservative strips, “State of the Union,” is also the best and should be in more papers. Then again, the Austin American-Statesman wrote yesterday that they wanted a conservative strip that would address the issue with more levity. Maybe “State of the Union” is too politically serious for them? Either way, the trend is definitely against Bruce Tinsley and “Mallard Fillmore.”

http://www.statesman.com/search/content/life/stories/other/12/24/1224prickly.html

#4 Chris Hardiman
December/25/2007
@ 10:14 am

I don’t know the answer to your question, Mike, but it’s safe to say that newspapers are filling their conservative strip spots with “Prickly City” now and dumping “Mallard Fillmore,” which has never been funny. I’m not a fan of “Prickly City” either, however. Personally, I think the third (and newest) of these conservative strips, “State of the Union,” is also the best and should be in more papers. Then again, the Austin American-Statesman wrote yesterday that they wanted a conservative strip that would address the issue with more levity. Maybe “State of the Union” is too politically serious for them? Either way, the trend is definitely against Bruce Tinsley and “Mallard Fillmore.”

http://www.statesman.com/search/content/life/stories/other/12/24/1224prickly.html

#5 Pab Sungenis
December/25/2007
@ 6:08 pm

That’s because Mallard just plain isn’t funny. It’s not enough to be conservative and a cartoon, you also need to be witty and entertaining.

#6 Pab Sungenis
December/25/2007
@ 11:08 am

That’s because Mallard just plain isn’t funny. It’s not enough to be conservative and a cartoon, you also need to be witty and entertaining.

#7 Chris Hardiman
December/26/2007
@ 12:33 am

Pab,
For years it WAS enough for “Mallard” to be simply conservative, if unfunny, because it was the only strip of its kind. With the debut of “Prickly City” in 2004 and “State of the Union” in 2005 or so, it’s being forced out of papers as editors realize that there are better conservative strips out there.

#8 Chris Hardiman
December/25/2007
@ 5:33 pm

Pab,
For years it WAS enough for “Mallard” to be simply conservative, if unfunny, because it was the only strip of its kind. With the debut of “Prickly City” in 2004 and “State of the Union” in 2005 or so, it’s being forced out of papers as editors realize that there are better conservative strips out there.

#9 Garey Mckee
December/26/2007
@ 10:28 pm

I believe what it comes down to is that it’s ok for a comic strip not to be funny, as long as it’s poignant and tells the truth in an honest fashion. The problem is I just don’t see that often enough in Mallard Fillmore.

#10 Garey Mckee
December/26/2007
@ 3:28 pm

I believe what it comes down to is that it’s ok for a comic strip not to be funny, as long as it’s poignant and tells the truth in an honest fashion. The problem is I just don’t see that often enough in Mallard Fillmore.

#11 Pab Sungenis
December/27/2007
@ 2:00 am

Gary, if you’re an alleged humor strip, you still need to be funny at times. Mallard is NEVER funny.

I may be a flaming liberal, but I can still laugh at jokes told from a conservative viewpoint when they (a) have a grain of truth in them, and (b) are witty and well constructed. Mallared never seems to get both going at once.

#12 Pab Sungenis
December/26/2007
@ 7:00 pm

Gary, if you’re an alleged humor strip, you still need to be funny at times. Mallard is NEVER funny.

I may be a flaming liberal, but I can still laugh at jokes told from a conservative viewpoint when they (a) have a grain of truth in them, and (b) are witty and well constructed. Mallared never seems to get both going at once.

#13 Garey Mckee
December/27/2007
@ 3:38 am

Pab I agree with you. I guess what I was trying to say is that truth plays an important part in humor. When someone can laugh, chuckle or snicker and say, “Oh my God that is SO true.” That is the hallmark of a successfully written strip. And as I said, I have just never gotten that reaction from reading Mallard Fillmore.

#14 Garey Mckee
December/26/2007
@ 8:38 pm

Pab I agree with you. I guess what I was trying to say is that truth plays an important part in humor. When someone can laugh, chuckle or snicker and say, “Oh my God that is SO true.” That is the hallmark of a successfully written strip. And as I said, I have just never gotten that reaction from reading Mallard Fillmore.

#15 Alan Gardner
December/27/2007
@ 5:46 am

As a conservative, I thought Mallard was very funny back when it was new. When you say a comic has to have a grain of truth to it to be funny, I’d argue that there is no such thing as absolute truth when it comes to politics. What one political bent sees as the truth – the other sees as spin. For that reason, Mallard was refreshing as the first conservative feature to make fun of liberalism using the truth as we saw it.

That said, I think Mallard became tired and unfunny several years ago. Bruce either went to autopilot or started recycling his material as it seems highly predictable.

#16 Alan Gardner
December/26/2007
@ 10:46 pm

As a conservative, I thought Mallard was very funny back when it was new. When you say a comic has to have a grain of truth to it to be funny, I’d argue that there is no such thing as absolute truth when it comes to politics. What one political bent sees as the truth – the other sees as spin. For that reason, Mallard was refreshing as the first conservative feature to make fun of liberalism using the truth as we saw it.

That said, I think Mallard became tired and unfunny several years ago. Bruce either went to autopilot or started recycling his material as it seems highly predictable.

#17 Garey Mckee
December/27/2007
@ 5:42 pm

Alan I’d say that the fact that truth is subjective makes it all that more integral in establishing a humorous response.

I feel rather bad that this has become a sort of “Bash Mallard Fillmore” thread. Often I try to refrain from going off about strips I don’t like, because I know that alot of blood, sweat and tears go into their creation. But I’m just trying to be honest here about the way I feel concerning Mallard.

#18 Garey Mckee
December/27/2007
@ 10:42 am

Alan I’d say that the fact that truth is subjective makes it all that more integral in establishing a humorous response.

I feel rather bad that this has become a sort of “Bash Mallard Fillmore” thread. Often I try to refrain from going off about strips I don’t like, because I know that alot of blood, sweat and tears go into their creation. But I’m just trying to be honest here about the way I feel concerning Mallard.

#19 Chris Hardiman
December/27/2007
@ 11:59 pm

Garey, whether you agree or disagree with the cartoonist’s politics — with a political comic strip the key is to see whether you can see why it is funny, or would be funny if you shared the cartoonist’s viewpoint. “Mallard” has been around for years, so I can’t say whether it was any good in the beginning, but I have yet to see an even mildly humorous strip from this “humor strip” since I first read one of them back in ’04.

I don’t want to bash it too much, but it’s sad when so much effort is put into a strip and it is almost universally loathed…is there anybody who LIKES the duck, as seen in newspapers today?

#20 Chris Hardiman
December/27/2007
@ 4:59 pm

Garey, whether you agree or disagree with the cartoonist’s politics — with a political comic strip the key is to see whether you can see why it is funny, or would be funny if you shared the cartoonist’s viewpoint. “Mallard” has been around for years, so I can’t say whether it was any good in the beginning, but I have yet to see an even mildly humorous strip from this “humor strip” since I first read one of them back in ’04.

I don’t want to bash it too much, but it’s sad when so much effort is put into a strip and it is almost universally loathed…is there anybody who LIKES the duck, as seen in newspapers today?

#21 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
December/28/2007
@ 3:53 am

Tinsley typifies the degraded conservative model, which is just downright nasty. There is nothing clever, satyrical, ironic, or funny in any of his…uhhh, stuff. He is just plain mean without merit.

Now “Shoe” as original by MacNelly was decidedly conservative, and clever, and witty.
“Kudzu” was often apolitical. One could see between the lines.
Lil’ Abner was one of the blatantly right wing strips ever drawn, yet had comedic appeal.

Tinsley’s MF has NO redeeming qualities what-so-ever. It is junk journalism.
It is a testament as to how desperate conservative publishers will troll and pay for garbage to “balance” progressive opinion.

#22 KRANKY (JOE RANK)
December/27/2007
@ 8:53 pm

Tinsley typifies the degraded conservative model, which is just downright nasty. There is nothing clever, satyrical, ironic, or funny in any of his…uhhh, stuff. He is just plain mean without merit.

Now “Shoe” as original by MacNelly was decidedly conservative, and clever, and witty.
“Kudzu” was often apolitical. One could see between the lines.
Lil’ Abner was one of the blatantly right wing strips ever drawn, yet had comedic appeal.

Tinsley’s MF has NO redeeming qualities what-so-ever. It is junk journalism.
It is a testament as to how desperate conservative publishers will troll and pay for garbage to “balance” progressive opinion.

#23 Eric Burke
December/28/2007
@ 3:54 am

I like the art.

There. Now this thread has a positive vibe!

#24 Eric Burke
December/27/2007
@ 8:54 pm

I like the art.

There. Now this thread has a positive vibe!

#25 Garey Mckee
December/28/2007
@ 4:44 am

Whew! Thanks Eric. LOL

#26 Garey Mckee
December/27/2007
@ 9:44 pm

Whew! Thanks Eric. LOL

#27 Dawn Douglass
December/28/2007
@ 6:38 am

I agree with Kranky and others here. I’m conservative myself, but I’ve never liked MF. I think it’s an embarrassment and does our side lots more harm than good.

#28 Dawn Douglass
December/27/2007
@ 11:38 pm

I agree with Kranky and others here. I’m conservative myself, but I’ve never liked MF. I think it’s an embarrassment and does our side lots more harm than good.

#29 Garey Mckee
December/29/2007
@ 4:40 am

Since Kranky mentioned MacNelly’s Shoe, I will chime in yet again and whole heartedly agree. Shoe was great. The emphasis being on “WAS,” but that’s a whole other topic.

#30 Garey Mckee
December/28/2007
@ 9:40 pm

Since Kranky mentioned MacNelly’s Shoe, I will chime in yet again and whole heartedly agree. Shoe was great. The emphasis being on “WAS,” but that’s a whole other topic.

#31 Charles Brubaker
December/29/2007
@ 9:44 am

As someone who owns one of the strip’s book collections (there were two), I can vouch that the artwork was pretty good. Very “editorial cartoon” like. It helps that Tinsley used to be an staff editorial cartoonist before he started “Mallard.”

There were funny jokes here and there, but, IMO, if it wern’t for the fact that the strip is very conservative, “Mallard Fillmore” would’ve otherwise ended up in the pile of “strips that failed in syndication after 2 years or less.”

#32 Charles Brubaker
December/29/2007
@ 2:44 am

As someone who owns one of the strip’s book collections (there were two), I can vouch that the artwork was pretty good. Very “editorial cartoon” like. It helps that Tinsley used to be an staff editorial cartoonist before he started “Mallard.”

There were funny jokes here and there, but, IMO, if it wern’t for the fact that the strip is very conservative, “Mallard Fillmore” would’ve otherwise ended up in the pile of “strips that failed in syndication after 2 years or less.”

#33 Eric Burke
December/29/2007
@ 3:18 pm

I always thought that Mallard looked too much like Marvel Comics® [i]Howard the Duck[/i]. I don’t read either, but was there any significance/symbolism to Mallard being a duck?

Didn’t Tinsley also get arrested for DUI a few years back? I thought it was him…can’t remember. I mention that only because too many of the public “moral majority” with a public forum seem to be hypocrites on one level or another(Limbaugh the oxy-addict, Bill O’Reilly the phone sex afficiando).

Not that either party is sin free. I expect both parties to be full of deviants. But it just seems more hypocritical from the conservatives…

#34 Eric Burke
December/29/2007
@ 8:18 am

I always thought that Mallard looked too much like Marvel Comics® [i]Howard the Duck[/i]. I don’t read either, but was there any significance/symbolism to Mallard being a duck?

Didn’t Tinsley also get arrested for DUI a few years back? I thought it was him…can’t remember. I mention that only because too many of the public “moral majority” with a public forum seem to be hypocrites on one level or another(Limbaugh the oxy-addict, Bill O’Reilly the phone sex afficiando).

Not that either party is sin free. I expect both parties to be full of deviants. But it just seems more hypocritical from the conservatives…

#35 Pab Sungenis
December/29/2007
@ 4:30 pm

Eric: You know, you have a point there. A good political humorist is not afraid to poke fun at people “on your side” when they’re wrong or do wrong. The problem is that Tinsley, just as one example, never does that.

Rush Limbaugh, at his peak, was fun to listen to because he nailed EVERYBODY who did something stupid, not just liberals and Democrats. Sure, he had a conservative viewpoint but he never shied away from zinging conservatives when they needed it. Then Clinton came along and he became “the disloyal opposition” and his show became nothing more than the Bash Clinton Program. Now he’s an unofficial spokesman for the Administration, which doesn’t leave you much room to be funny.

Tinsley always fell right into that trap of “attack the enemy,” instead of mining humorous possibilities from all angles. He also assumes that any attack on his enemy, by its sheer nature, will be funny. It isn’t necessarily. First, there needs to be a grain of truth in all humor and sometimes he just smashes away at strawmen. There also has to be an amount of wit involved, and I’m not convinced Tinsley has any natural wit. As for the rare funny Mallard strip, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I’m a liberal Democrat, but Hillary has come in for a few attacks when I’ve gotten political. Maybe not as much as Commander Bunnypants in the Oval Office has, but she hasn’t done or said nearly as many stupid things as him, nor is she nearly as dangerous as him. That could change (especially if, god help us, she wins), and if it does she’ll get zinged more often. Tinsley wouldn’t even DREAM of poking fun at the sacred cows of his side, even when they are exceptionally stupid. Even if you don’t want to make fun of Bush or Rice, Larry Craig is a prime example. So is Fred Phelps. These are people whose hypocrisy (Craig) and actions (Phelps) have earned them ridicule, but because they’re “on his side,” Tinsley never goes after them. It’s wasted opportunity.

Finally, the only reason MF ever got onto a comic page to begin with is because of liberals. You heard me right. There’s a sad tendency within journalistic circles, mainly in the liberal minority, to subscribe to the fallacy of equivalency; that there are always two sides and exactly two sides to every story and that every side must be heard. These are the people who, if they print a story that states that the sky is blue, feel they need someone from an opposing viewpoint to come in and say that it’s purple. This is what has led to the acceptance of lunatic fringe groups like Creation Scientists (oops, excuse me, “Intelligent Design Advocates”) and the “ex-Gay” movement, and it’s what propelled MF onto the pages. Editors would look at it and say “hm, it’s not funny, but we need a conservative strip because we have Doonesbury.”

That’s right. Tinsley got into so many papers at launch solely because of affirmative action.

Now MF is losing papers left and right because readers don’t like it. It’s not funny, and really never has been funny. I wouldn’t even say it’s paved the way for “Prickly City” and other conservative strips, either. If anything, it’s hindered them because (a) the papers that gave it a slot because of AA had filled their conservative quota and weren’t looking for a new feature, or (b) because MF is so painfully unfunny, many editors would assume that all conservative strips are just like it, and why take a chance? Both arguments are false, but they were easy arguments to make, and they slowed down the potential growth of PC and other conservative features.

#36 Pab Sungenis
December/29/2007
@ 9:30 am

Eric: You know, you have a point there. A good political humorist is not afraid to poke fun at people “on your side” when they’re wrong or do wrong. The problem is that Tinsley, just as one example, never does that.

Rush Limbaugh, at his peak, was fun to listen to because he nailed EVERYBODY who did something stupid, not just liberals and Democrats. Sure, he had a conservative viewpoint but he never shied away from zinging conservatives when they needed it. Then Clinton came along and he became “the disloyal opposition” and his show became nothing more than the Bash Clinton Program. Now he’s an unofficial spokesman for the Administration, which doesn’t leave you much room to be funny.

Tinsley always fell right into that trap of “attack the enemy,” instead of mining humorous possibilities from all angles. He also assumes that any attack on his enemy, by its sheer nature, will be funny. It isn’t necessarily. First, there needs to be a grain of truth in all humor and sometimes he just smashes away at strawmen. There also has to be an amount of wit involved, and I’m not convinced Tinsley has any natural wit. As for the rare funny Mallard strip, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

I’m a liberal Democrat, but Hillary has come in for a few attacks when I’ve gotten political. Maybe not as much as Commander Bunnypants in the Oval Office has, but she hasn’t done or said nearly as many stupid things as him, nor is she nearly as dangerous as him. That could change (especially if, god help us, she wins), and if it does she’ll get zinged more often. Tinsley wouldn’t even DREAM of poking fun at the sacred cows of his side, even when they are exceptionally stupid. Even if you don’t want to make fun of Bush or Rice, Larry Craig is a prime example. So is Fred Phelps. These are people whose hypocrisy (Craig) and actions (Phelps) have earned them ridicule, but because they’re “on his side,” Tinsley never goes after them. It’s wasted opportunity.

Finally, the only reason MF ever got onto a comic page to begin with is because of liberals. You heard me right. There’s a sad tendency within journalistic circles, mainly in the liberal minority, to subscribe to the fallacy of equivalency; that there are always two sides and exactly two sides to every story and that every side must be heard. These are the people who, if they print a story that states that the sky is blue, feel they need someone from an opposing viewpoint to come in and say that it’s purple. This is what has led to the acceptance of lunatic fringe groups like Creation Scientists (oops, excuse me, “Intelligent Design Advocates”) and the “ex-Gay” movement, and it’s what propelled MF onto the pages. Editors would look at it and say “hm, it’s not funny, but we need a conservative strip because we have Doonesbury.”

That’s right. Tinsley got into so many papers at launch solely because of affirmative action.

Now MF is losing papers left and right because readers don’t like it. It’s not funny, and really never has been funny. I wouldn’t even say it’s paved the way for “Prickly City” and other conservative strips, either. If anything, it’s hindered them because (a) the papers that gave it a slot because of AA had filled their conservative quota and weren’t looking for a new feature, or (b) because MF is so painfully unfunny, many editors would assume that all conservative strips are just like it, and why take a chance? Both arguments are false, but they were easy arguments to make, and they slowed down the potential growth of PC and other conservative features.

#37 John Phillips
December/30/2007
@ 12:12 am

It’s always fun to read stuff like Pab’s dogma. Everyone please highlight this line: “If they print a story that states that the sky is blue, feel they need someone from an opposing viewpoint to come in and say that itâ??s purple.”

This is the core of lib-think: Their beliefs are always absolute truths, like ‘the sky is blue’, and how dare someone suggest they critically assess situations absent of ideological prejudice.

Remember, folks – it’s not a “tendency” for the liberal media to subscribe to the fallacy of equivalency, it’s a “SAD tendency.” Newspapers should only be published for readers of a singular belief.

But yes, MF has some gaping humor issues.

#38 John Phillips
December/29/2007
@ 5:12 pm

It’s always fun to read stuff like Pab’s dogma. Everyone please highlight this line: “If they print a story that states that the sky is blue, feel they need someone from an opposing viewpoint to come in and say that itâ??s purple.”

This is the core of lib-think: Their beliefs are always absolute truths, like ‘the sky is blue’, and how dare someone suggest they critically assess situations absent of ideological prejudice.

Remember, folks – it’s not a “tendency” for the liberal media to subscribe to the fallacy of equivalency, it’s a “SAD tendency.” Newspapers should only be published for readers of a singular belief.

But yes, MF has some gaping humor issues.

#39 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 2:00 am

Eric,
Yes, that was Tinsley who got the DUI. As for Mallard’s duck-hood, I don’t think it symbolizes anything. Probably Tinsley only used that because Mallard ducks could be used as a play on words for President Millard Fillmore’s name.

Pab,
I agree wholeheartedly with most of your points. Yes, I think that liberal newspapers shouldn’t feel the need to compensate for their liberal strips by adding conservative strips to add “balance.” Yes, I think that “Mallard” has never been funny largely because he has been solely a spokesman for the right and not trying to mine humor from others’ positions. Yes, I think that “Mallard” has probably hindered other conservative strips.

However, I think that there is another reason for the other conservative strips’ struggles. You see, none of them are actually very good right now.

Yes, I said it. “Shoe” was good back when it actually took political positions at all, but of the three strips that I would say are currently taking the conservative side on the comics page, none are especially good. We’ve already talked about “Mallard” — it only attacks the other side and is never funny.

Let me talk about “Prickly City.” It’s not a good strip, and I’m not saying that because I’m liberal. Its art is fairly poor, its writing is often muddled, it’s two-character cast is not well established and often limiting, storylines are often botched, and Scott Stantis rarely takes on the big issues. I know that there are some of us here who really like this strip, including Charles Brubaker, and I wish I could respect that position more than I do. However, I would like to know — why, other than your conservative political views, do you like “Prickly City?” In my opinion, Stantis could improve it but doesn’t really have much of a drive to.

As for “State of the Union,” I actually think that it is very well executed, but I think its fundamental flaw is the lack of a recurring cast. Truly, it is just an editorial cartoon in the comics section, and I’m not sure if editors want that.

So, until these three strips work out their kinks, I feel that there are other reasons why editors might pass them up.

However, as I wrote above, both PC and SotU are far better than MF, and so it only makes sense that editors are finally replacing it in their conservative spots.

#40 Chris Hardiman
December/29/2007
@ 7:00 pm

Eric,
Yes, that was Tinsley who got the DUI. As for Mallard’s duck-hood, I don’t think it symbolizes anything. Probably Tinsley only used that because Mallard ducks could be used as a play on words for President Millard Fillmore’s name.

Pab,
I agree wholeheartedly with most of your points. Yes, I think that liberal newspapers shouldn’t feel the need to compensate for their liberal strips by adding conservative strips to add “balance.” Yes, I think that “Mallard” has never been funny largely because he has been solely a spokesman for the right and not trying to mine humor from others’ positions. Yes, I think that “Mallard” has probably hindered other conservative strips.

However, I think that there is another reason for the other conservative strips’ struggles. You see, none of them are actually very good right now.

Yes, I said it. “Shoe” was good back when it actually took political positions at all, but of the three strips that I would say are currently taking the conservative side on the comics page, none are especially good. We’ve already talked about “Mallard” — it only attacks the other side and is never funny.

Let me talk about “Prickly City.” It’s not a good strip, and I’m not saying that because I’m liberal. Its art is fairly poor, its writing is often muddled, it’s two-character cast is not well established and often limiting, storylines are often botched, and Scott Stantis rarely takes on the big issues. I know that there are some of us here who really like this strip, including Charles Brubaker, and I wish I could respect that position more than I do. However, I would like to know — why, other than your conservative political views, do you like “Prickly City?” In my opinion, Stantis could improve it but doesn’t really have much of a drive to.

As for “State of the Union,” I actually think that it is very well executed, but I think its fundamental flaw is the lack of a recurring cast. Truly, it is just an editorial cartoon in the comics section, and I’m not sure if editors want that.

So, until these three strips work out their kinks, I feel that there are other reasons why editors might pass them up.

However, as I wrote above, both PC and SotU are far better than MF, and so it only makes sense that editors are finally replacing it in their conservative spots.

#41 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 2:08 am

Since I know that my criticism of “Prickly City” will probably come under criticism itself, I would like to point out a specific example. Please go to GoComics.com and look at the series beginning on 12/3. It is a criticism of how newspapers are cutting their budgets (and staffs) because of their declining subscribers. It’s a good subject to tackle, and it starts out fairly promisingly, as Stantis has Winslow get laid off and disappear from the strip — pretty clever, although he used it in a series on outsourcing earlier this year. However, it quickly declines, with an unfunny strip on Tuesday. Stantis then completely abandons the plot of the storyline on Wednesday, with Winslow returning inexplicably and delivering commentary that fails to address the crux of the issue. Finally, the strip ditches the storyline midstream for a Christmas-themed strip on that Thursday. This series is perhaps “Prickly City’s” biggest disaster. How did it even get published like this? Is there an editor reading the strip on its way to the newspapers? And does it have ANY redeeming qualities?

#42 Chris Hardiman
December/29/2007
@ 7:08 pm

Since I know that my criticism of “Prickly City” will probably come under criticism itself, I would like to point out a specific example. Please go to GoComics.com and look at the series beginning on 12/3. It is a criticism of how newspapers are cutting their budgets (and staffs) because of their declining subscribers. It’s a good subject to tackle, and it starts out fairly promisingly, as Stantis has Winslow get laid off and disappear from the strip — pretty clever, although he used it in a series on outsourcing earlier this year. However, it quickly declines, with an unfunny strip on Tuesday. Stantis then completely abandons the plot of the storyline on Wednesday, with Winslow returning inexplicably and delivering commentary that fails to address the crux of the issue. Finally, the strip ditches the storyline midstream for a Christmas-themed strip on that Thursday. This series is perhaps “Prickly City’s” biggest disaster. How did it even get published like this? Is there an editor reading the strip on its way to the newspapers? And does it have ANY redeeming qualities?

#43 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 2:10 am

This all sounds very harsh, so I would just like to point out that I don’t want to simply trash the strip left and right. I prefer to criticize it constructively, because as I stated above, I think that Stantis has the ability to improve it if he really gave it his all.

#44 Chris Hardiman
December/29/2007
@ 7:10 pm

This all sounds very harsh, so I would just like to point out that I don’t want to simply trash the strip left and right. I prefer to criticize it constructively, because as I stated above, I think that Stantis has the ability to improve it if he really gave it his all.

#45 Eric Burke
December/30/2007
@ 4:40 am

“Commander Bunnypants”…that’s just plain funny!

#46 Eric Burke
December/29/2007
@ 9:40 pm

“Commander Bunnypants”…that’s just plain funny!

#47 Pab Sungenis
December/30/2007
@ 6:33 am

John: Are you honestly telling me that you really believe that there is equivalency between all points of view?

#48 Pab Sungenis
December/29/2007
@ 11:33 pm

John: Are you honestly telling me that you really believe that there is equivalency between all points of view?

#49 Rich Diesslin
December/30/2007
@ 7:39 am

Perhaps the question is “is MF (or any of the others mentioned) funny to a conservative reader?” I can’t really comment because my local paper only carries liberal or apolitical strips, so I haven’t read any under discussion. However, I can tell you that after the first few years of Doonesbury (which started out more apolitical) I quit reading it, because I found it more offensive than funny. This might be your experience with the conservative cartoons. You might think you can be objective on what’s “funny” on some absolute scale of “funny” but it’s harder than it might first appear. The few MFs I did see from a while ago, did also remind me of Howard the Duck as well.

I do not think newspapers’ attempt at equivalency is philosophical, but rather a desperate ploy to be everything to all readers. It doesn’t work for many reasons, but the main one, to me, is they are insincere and it shows (they aren’t staffed with a diversity of socio-political opinion (liberal, conservative, libertarian, moderate) and thus can’t really pull it off).

So to the question “Are you honestly telling me that you really believe that there is equivalency between all points of view?” I say no I don’t think there is (when we are talking about opinion and not fact), I think liberals are generally wrong or I wouldn’t be conservative – but I do think there is something to be said for trying to represent all sides of an issue and newspapers generally aren’t equipped to do it well.

#50 Rich Diesslin
December/30/2007
@ 12:39 am

Perhaps the question is “is MF (or any of the others mentioned) funny to a conservative reader?” I can’t really comment because my local paper only carries liberal or apolitical strips, so I haven’t read any under discussion. However, I can tell you that after the first few years of Doonesbury (which started out more apolitical) I quit reading it, because I found it more offensive than funny. This might be your experience with the conservative cartoons. You might think you can be objective on what’s “funny” on some absolute scale of “funny” but it’s harder than it might first appear. The few MFs I did see from a while ago, did also remind me of Howard the Duck as well.

I do not think newspapers’ attempt at equivalency is philosophical, but rather a desperate ploy to be everything to all readers. It doesn’t work for many reasons, but the main one, to me, is they are insincere and it shows (they aren’t staffed with a diversity of socio-political opinion (liberal, conservative, libertarian, moderate) and thus can’t really pull it off).

So to the question “Are you honestly telling me that you really believe that there is equivalency between all points of view?” I say no I don’t think there is (when we are talking about opinion and not fact), I think liberals are generally wrong or I wouldn’t be conservative – but I do think there is something to be said for trying to represent all sides of an issue and newspapers generally aren’t equipped to do it well.

#51 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 2:33 pm

Well, actually, even though most newspapers tend to lean to the right, left, or moderate, many of them do try to represent the opposing viewpoint on the editorial page with a “house conservative” writer in a liberal paper or a “house liberal” in a conservative paper. So, it looks like newspapers are trying to attract readers from all sides, as improbable as that might be.

As for Rich’s suggestion that liberals (like myself, although I tend to be a more moderate liberal) are too biased against the conservative cartoonists’ viewpoints to enjoy their strips — I don’t think that’s always true. At least, I like to think that it isn’t true in my case. I’ve seen many “Shoe” strips by Jeff MacNelly that were clever, for example. I have actually seen a number of “Prickly City” strips that I liked since it began in 2004. However, the vast majority of Stantis’s strips have been poorly executed in terms of writing and art. I have always felt that he could improve it; however, I have yet to really see that happen.

So, does anyone want to say whyh they like “Prickly City?” I’d be very interested to hear an opposing viewpoint on the strip.

#52 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 7:33 am

Well, actually, even though most newspapers tend to lean to the right, left, or moderate, many of them do try to represent the opposing viewpoint on the editorial page with a “house conservative” writer in a liberal paper or a “house liberal” in a conservative paper. So, it looks like newspapers are trying to attract readers from all sides, as improbable as that might be.

As for Rich’s suggestion that liberals (like myself, although I tend to be a more moderate liberal) are too biased against the conservative cartoonists’ viewpoints to enjoy their strips — I don’t think that’s always true. At least, I like to think that it isn’t true in my case. I’ve seen many “Shoe” strips by Jeff MacNelly that were clever, for example. I have actually seen a number of “Prickly City” strips that I liked since it began in 2004. However, the vast majority of Stantis’s strips have been poorly executed in terms of writing and art. I have always felt that he could improve it; however, I have yet to really see that happen.

So, does anyone want to say whyh they like “Prickly City?” I’d be very interested to hear an opposing viewpoint on the strip.

#53 Garey Mckee
December/30/2007
@ 2:49 pm

Rich, I tend to lean toward the conservative side and I can tell you that I don’t care for MF, for reasons I mentioned above. As I said before, I don’t think a strip has to be funny as long as it tells the truth (as believed by the author) in an honest fashion. AND I don’t have to agree with the author’s views to approve of a strip. I RESPECT Doonesbury because Garry Trudeau tells what he believes to be HIS view of the truth, and he does this very well in his work, although many times to me it seems to whiney. I guess that’s the conservative in me.

#54 Garey Mckee
December/30/2007
@ 7:49 am

Rich, I tend to lean toward the conservative side and I can tell you that I don’t care for MF, for reasons I mentioned above. As I said before, I don’t think a strip has to be funny as long as it tells the truth (as believed by the author) in an honest fashion. AND I don’t have to agree with the author’s views to approve of a strip. I RESPECT Doonesbury because Garry Trudeau tells what he believes to be HIS view of the truth, and he does this very well in his work, although many times to me it seems to whiney. I guess that’s the conservative in me.

#55 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 8:08 pm

Garey wrote:
“Rich, I tend to lean toward the conservative side and I can tell you that I donâ??t care for MF, for reasons I mentioned above. As I said before, I donâ??t think a strip has to be funny as long as it tells the truth (as believed by the author) in an honest fashion.”

I agree with you, Garey, but as was mentioned previously, MF is supposed to be humorous, and since it clearly isn’t (as I am sure you would agree) it fails to meet its goal as a comic strip.

“AND I donâ??t have to agree with the authorâ??s views to approve of a strip.”

Again, I agree. I think that whether their viewpoints clash with those of the cartoonist or not, each strip can be appreciated for its humor, art, characterization, etc. separately. For example, I know that you are fan of “Bloom County” like me, even though you are a conservative. That just goes to show that a high-quality strip can be enjoyed by people from both right and left. I don’t think that that’s a totally impossible goal. Berke Breathed, Walt Kelly, Jeff MacNelly…all of those men won over people on both sides of the spectrum with their politically themed strips.

“I RESPECT Doonesbury because Garry Trudeau tells what he believes to be HIS view of the truth, and he does this very well in his work, although many times to me it seems to whiney. I guess thatâ??s the conservative in me.”

Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” was a little more controversial than the three I mentioned above because it is so overtly political (like MF). However, unlike MF, it has gained respect from both sides of the political spectrum because it is a quality comic strip with the appropriate amount of humor and commentary thrown in with its characters. I haven’t read enough of the strip to assess whether it is whiny or not.

#56 Chris Hardiman
December/30/2007
@ 1:08 pm

Garey wrote:
“Rich, I tend to lean toward the conservative side and I can tell you that I donâ??t care for MF, for reasons I mentioned above. As I said before, I donâ??t think a strip has to be funny as long as it tells the truth (as believed by the author) in an honest fashion.”

I agree with you, Garey, but as was mentioned previously, MF is supposed to be humorous, and since it clearly isn’t (as I am sure you would agree) it fails to meet its goal as a comic strip.

“AND I donâ??t have to agree with the authorâ??s views to approve of a strip.”

Again, I agree. I think that whether their viewpoints clash with those of the cartoonist or not, each strip can be appreciated for its humor, art, characterization, etc. separately. For example, I know that you are fan of “Bloom County” like me, even though you are a conservative. That just goes to show that a high-quality strip can be enjoyed by people from both right and left. I don’t think that that’s a totally impossible goal. Berke Breathed, Walt Kelly, Jeff MacNelly…all of those men won over people on both sides of the spectrum with their politically themed strips.

“I RESPECT Doonesbury because Garry Trudeau tells what he believes to be HIS view of the truth, and he does this very well in his work, although many times to me it seems to whiney. I guess thatâ??s the conservative in me.”

Trudeau’s “Doonesbury” was a little more controversial than the three I mentioned above because it is so overtly political (like MF). However, unlike MF, it has gained respect from both sides of the political spectrum because it is a quality comic strip with the appropriate amount of humor and commentary thrown in with its characters. I haven’t read enough of the strip to assess whether it is whiny or not.

#57 Rich Diesslin
December/30/2007
@ 9:41 pm

Good points Chris and Garey. I only posed the question because it seems hard to judge once humor crosses ideological lines – the more extreme the more difficult. I’m not sure how much respect Doonesbury gets from conservatives, but I’ll take your word for it. MacNelly’s editorial cartoons were moderately conservative (if I remember correctly), but Shoe was mostly apolitical. I liked both a lot back in the 70s-80s when I read them regularly in the Chicago Tribune.

Since no one seems to be coming to the defense of MF … I’m guessing you are correct in your assessments about quality or that his “humor” might be expressing too extreme of a view. Perhaps a general rule might be that cartoons expressing too extreme a view tend toward bad taste (or poor use of humor) anyway.

#58 Rich Diesslin
December/30/2007
@ 2:41 pm

Good points Chris and Garey. I only posed the question because it seems hard to judge once humor crosses ideological lines – the more extreme the more difficult. I’m not sure how much respect Doonesbury gets from conservatives, but I’ll take your word for it. MacNelly’s editorial cartoons were moderately conservative (if I remember correctly), but Shoe was mostly apolitical. I liked both a lot back in the 70s-80s when I read them regularly in the Chicago Tribune.

Since no one seems to be coming to the defense of MF … I’m guessing you are correct in your assessments about quality or that his “humor” might be expressing too extreme of a view. Perhaps a general rule might be that cartoons expressing too extreme a view tend toward bad taste (or poor use of humor) anyway.

#59 Al
February/27/2008
@ 2:08 pm

Mallard Fillmore has NEVER been funny. It relies on mean-spiritedness instead of any cleverness and some of the cartoons have been borderline racist. I’m a leftist but find “Prickly City” funny, for the most part.

#60 Al
February/27/2008
@ 7:08 am

Mallard Fillmore has NEVER been funny. It relies on mean-spiritedness instead of any cleverness and some of the cartoons have been borderline racist. I’m a leftist but find “Prickly City” funny, for the most part.

#61 Tom Fortune
April/3/2008
@ 1:50 pm

Ben Sargent has NEVER been funny. He relies on mean-spiritedness instead of any cleverness and some of the cartoons have been borderline racist. Iâ??m a righty but find â??Mallard Fillmoreâ? funny, for the most part.

#62 Tom Fortune
April/3/2008
@ 7:50 am

Ben Sargent has NEVER been funny. He relies on mean-spiritedness instead of any cleverness and some of the cartoons have been borderline racist. Iâ??m a righty but find â??Mallard Fillmoreâ? funny, for the most part.

#63 Kip Williams
July/14/2008
@ 3:39 am

There’s the right in a nutshell — trying to score points by substituting proper nouns in ways that make no sense.

Please, Tom, don’t leave us in the dark! Show us examples of Ben Sargent’s “borderline racist” cartoons. I’ve never seen any, but then I like Doonesbury, “for the most part.”

#64 Kip Williams
July/13/2008
@ 9:39 pm

There’s the right in a nutshell — trying to score points by substituting proper nouns in ways that make no sense.

Please, Tom, don’t leave us in the dark! Show us examples of Ben Sargent’s “borderline racist” cartoons. I’ve never seen any, but then I like Doonesbury, “for the most part.”

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