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Ill-timed Jumpstart angers grieving communities

Jump Start

Last Friday’s Jump Startby Robb Armstrong was one of a continuing story-line that includes an officer being shot has angered two communities dealing with their own real-life tragedies of officers being killed in the line of duty. Both the The News Tribune (Tacoma, WA) and the The Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, NY) are apologizing for not proofing the comics more carefully a week after four officers were killed in Lakewood, WA and two in Rochester, NY respectively.

Responding to the complaints in Rochester, Robb wrote:

I am saddened and horrified whenever I learn of an officer or anyone else being shot at or murdered.

Sometimes I wonder if our society is becoming numb to news of a shooting or some other anti-social atrocity. I wonder if being in a seemingly endless war overseas has caused us to accept inexplicable violence as a normal part of life.

The people of Rochester have shown me otherwise. The response to my comic strip, where I have depicted an officer being shot, has been appropriately emotional. The people of Rochester are not apathetic or numb.

I created the strip you are reading today nearly a month ago. I had no idea that, by the holiday season, four officers in Washington state and two in Rochester would fall victim to senseless violence. But, I create JumpStart knowing the risks of accidental prophecy.

The point of this series is to implore officers to wear their vests every day. â??Joe,â? the character in JumpStart who gets shot, happens to be wearing a steel medallion given to him by a homeless man. Joe and his family fed the homeless manâ??s family on Thanksgiving, and he is given the â??Hero Medallionâ? as a display of gratitude. Joe is reluctant to wear the strange gift, but wearing it ends up stopping an assailantâ??s bullet. A later strip points out that all officers have a life-saving â??Hero Medallion,â? it is their bullet-proof vest, and they should wear it proudly and fearlessly.

I am grateful for the outcry heard from New York state. I am grateful to be published every day in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. (Iâ??m a graduate of Syracuse University and Iâ??ve enjoyed your city.) Most of all I am grateful that officers Daniel Brochu and Luca Martini will recover. Thank God.

Community Comments

#1 Ted Dawson
December/7/2009
@ 10:30 am

That’s a great response from Robb, and he didn’t even do anything wrong.

The papers are owned by McClatchy and Gannett respectively. Last year Gannett cut 59 jobs (8% of its staff) at the Democrat & Chronicle. At the Tacoma News Tribune… well, I don’t even know how this is possible: “189 employees out of its 350 full-time staffers have been offered voluntary buyouts and publisher David Zeeck told The Associated Press layoffs could be forthcoming. In June, 82 employees left the paper.” These figures speak for themselves.

http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/gannett_layoffs_begin_rochester_ny_leads_asheville_waits_and_wonders/

http://sacramento.bizjournals.com/sacramento/stories/2008/09/08/daily35.html

#2 Paul Fell
December/7/2009
@ 12:07 pm

No matter what you do in a strip or an editorial cartoon, you’ll always get SOMEONE who has to go out of their way to be offended.

Remember the big flap that ensued a couple of years ago when Tom Batiuk had his character Lisa in “Funky Winkerbean” die of Cancer?

#3 Jan Eliot
December/7/2009
@ 12:16 pm

Since Robb does his cartoons somewhere in the vicintiy of 4-6 weeks in advance, it’s really up to his EDITORS, both at the syndicate and most importantly, at the newspapers, to notice that something has become ill-timed due to recent events.

If newspapers were more interested in their comics pages, an editor might have asked the syndicate for a replacement strip, a common practice in cases like this.

Sorry, Robb. Not your fault, but I know you’re feeling badly about it.

Best wishes,
Jan

#4 Darryl Heine
December/7/2009
@ 1:52 pm

I hope Joe recovers.

#5 Mike Peterson
December/8/2009
@ 5:47 am

No reason to pull the strip. In fact, it was quite relevant — police work is dangerous and we should all be aware of that. As for “offense,” there are people who think the cartoonists are turning in their work same-day, the way the reporters do. They’re wrong, but it’s understandable.

Robb did a nice job of responding to an issue — he explained his thinking as well as his schedule. Case closed.

#6 Rich Diesslin
December/9/2009
@ 2:32 am

Great response to an unnecessary complaint.

#7 Shane Davis
December/9/2009
@ 8:24 pm

As police officer, I appreciated what he was doing and what he said. Don’t know I’ve ever seen an officer shot in the funnies before…

I can’t believe he’s done this strip all these years without hearing from a lot of boys in blue, and my guess he’s pretty fond of them, judging by how he handles the profession in his strip.

If those of us who carry badges and guns into harm’s way aren’t offended by his strip, why they heck should anyone else?

Good strip, Robb. Keep it up.

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