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Paper cancelled comic because it calls Bud Light: “diluted horse piss” UPDATED

Karl Stevens Failure

Comicsbeat reports that Karl Stevens’s comic page Failure was cancelled because the strip referred to Bud Light as “Diluted Horse Piss.” Anheuser-Busch, which makes Bud Light, is an advertiser in the paper. The strip has been in the alt weekly publication since 2005.

As noted in the comments, Tom Spurgeon contacted the editor of the Boston Phoenix. She denies the comic was cancelled due to its content. Her response:

In answer to your questions, it is categorically false that Karl was ‘fired’ due to any outside objections. I’m the Phoenix’s editor in chief, and it was my sole decision to discontinue Failure. Karl’s final Failure strip runs in tomorrow’s issue (dated 11/30). There were no sponsor objections — zero — to this strip or any other that Iâ??m aware of. It is also untrue that I was worried about the strip being offensive: quite the opposite. Over Karl’s tenure at the Phoenix, he has been given more creative freedom than any other writer, photographer, or illustrator we’ve published. In one instance, over a year ago, we asked him to re-draw a panel that included a penis in a state of sexual penetration — which he agreed to re-draw with the penis blocked out in print, and I believe we ran the original panel online

He’s has much more background and response from Karl too.

Community Comments

#1 Daniel Olson
@ 11:24 am

I guess Anheuser-Busch can’t take a complement.

#2 Mike Peterson
@ 11:38 am

I suppose this isn’t one of those cases where the truth is an affirmative defense.

#3 Michael Pohrer
@ 12:02 pm

I would personally call this strip a look into”Truth In Advertising” Ha,ha,ha! I guess comments like this is why no papers in my home state refuse to carry my strips. (I’m from the St. Louis area) All I can say about that is, This piss is for you!

#4 Joe Engesser
@ 12:14 pm

“…Big Number One!”

#5 Rick Ellis
@ 12:29 pm

If only he called it “diluted equine urine” everything would have been OK.

#6 Donald Rex Jr.
@ 1:12 pm

Nicely rendered strip. One might think of a dozen alternative captions funnier than the ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ level ‘horse piss’ cliche, but finally, Stevens enjoyed ‘sticking it to the man.’ Never forget the fun in fighting authority is that authority ALWAYS wins. Or so the song sez.

#7 Andrew Farago
@ 1:47 pm

Tom Spurgeon’s Comics Reporter followed up with Stevens’s editor, who denies that the Budweiser dig had anything to do with the firing:

#8 John Catey
@ 2:10 pm

It’s not really that diluted.

#9 Gerry Mooney
@ 4:51 pm

Well, wouldn’t the editor have read the strip before it went to press? Seems odd that they’d run it then fire the cartoonist, though the why’s and wherefore’s are a little convoluted according to the Comics Reporter.

#10 Donald Rex Jr.
@ 5:05 pm

“Banned in Boston’ has been a ticket to the big time for many artists.

#11 birdie Birdashaw
@ 8:25 am

Three Cheers for freedom of Speech?

#12 Ivelisse Colon-Nevarez
@ 9:41 am

I wonder if Boston Phoenix and Anheuser-Busch believe in freedom of speech. Maybe they forgot they live in a democracy.

#13 Donald Rex Jr.
@ 10:30 am

Editorial departments are not democracies in my experience. Now days spending ad-dollars is the protected free speech, thanks alot Supreme Court!

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