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Cancel Conservative Comics Culture

From the Stockton (Ca.) Record:

Also, last week we made a change to the comics by dropping “Mallard Fillmore.”

Years ago, The Record originally published “Doonesbury” and “Mallard Fillmore” as counterpoints in the Opinion pages and later, both were moved to the comics pages. When “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau stopped creating new daily strips in 2014, we continued to run “Mallard Fillmore” alone – even without a more liberal counterweight.

We are constantly reviewing our choices in content and strive for balance. We usually know we’ve achieved something close when readers from both sides of the political spectrum find something to criticize. In this case, some readers have opposed dropping “Mallard Fillmore” while others have endorsed the move. We have moved on from “Mallard Fillmore” and will substitute with another comic.

The Daily Cartoonist recently received a letter from MJ Lowery:

Our local paper has removed Mallard Fillmore from our comics.  The Herald Tribune in Sarasota,  Fl. has decided it is too conservative and has kept Doonesbury.  This cancel culture has now started in on comics.  Where will it stop?  Have you heard of other papers in the country experiencing this kind of craziness?

MJ is not the only one upset about The Herald-Tribune decision:

Since Gannett acquired the Herald-Tribune, the leftward drift of the newspaper has continued unabated.

The announcement Feb. 24 that the Mallard Fillmore comic strip will be discontinued, while Doonesbury remains, confirms the trend. Why you wish to alienate your readership only you understand. But your readers have lots of options.

I, for one, will not renew my subscription when it expires, and I expect many other readers will act in a like manner.

Up north and a bit east is the Indianapolis Star, another Gannett paper:

Every day for years, I’ve skimmed the headlines of The Indianapolis Star, finding very little worthy of reading. Every day, I think that this newspaper was not published for someone like me. Every day, I think, is it worth the money just to read the comics and do the puzzles?

With the cancellation of the “Mallard Fillmore” comic strip, you have completely stilled any conservative voice in your publication, and in the process you have answered my question: No, it isn’t worth the money to read the comics and do the puzzles.

If you wonder why the newspaper business isn’t doing well, it’s because you dismiss and disdain half of a population who would be your readership in favor of supporting an agenda.

In Silicon Valley a Mercury News reader has a different opinion:

I appreciate The Mercury News putting varied voices in their opinion and comics sections, but the Feb. 23 Mallard Fillmore goes from the usual right-wing propaganda to become truly insipid.

Of course complaints of inclusion are mirrored with complaints of exclusion:

I have long been annoyed  that the Star-Telegram is so liberally biased that it even extends to its comics, where you print the liberal “Doonesbury” and not the conservative cartoon “Mallard Fillmore.” At least The Dallas Morning News prints both.

I must admit to an admiration of Mallard Fillmore in one respect – the response from readers. And not just in letters to newspapers where The Duck seems to get more reaction than other comic strips. But the comments to the Comics Kingdom website. For example it is just past noon in the USA as I post this and already there are over 300 jeers and cheers to today’s strip. That is impressive, and it is not an exceptional event but, give or take, the daily feedback.

So back to MJ. Yes, there were a couple others that canceled Mallard Fillmore last month (all the above samplings were from February 2021), it is not only your local paper. Bruce Tinsley and Loren Fishman do succeed in bringing strong feelings from both sides of the political spectrum. Some editors can’t handle that heat, while some disagree with the positions. And consolidations of newspapers and comics pages will see a lessening of extreme positions so as to appeal to the broadest set.


Mallard Fillmore © King Features Syndicate

Community Comments

#1 Katherine Collins
March/2/2021
@ 10:54 pm

I am always amazed by what is classed as Liberal, or Leftist, in the U.S. Up here in Canada, your Leftist media would be counted as off-the-charts Conservative. Our Conservative media, and political party, would no doubt be classified as Radical Crazy. I wish that the U.S. would smarten up, and for a change have policies and ideas that allow for human decency.

#2 Mary Ella
March/3/2021
@ 5:24 am

I never understood why Mallard and Doonesbury are always thought of as these equal but diametrically opposed strips when one is more of a long-running serial with recurring characters and multi-strip plot lines that is most overtly political on Sunday, while the other is more of a gag-a-day affair (mostly the same “gag” over and over again, if you can call it that, but still.). I had assumed for a long time that Doonesbury wound up on the editorial page most of the time because kids don’t like to read it.

It’s interesting to me that the ones freaking out about “cancel culture” these days seem to be so darned noisy about it, never mind that they had a long, proud history of “canceling” before there was even a term for it (no one seems to remember One Million Moms being an actual thing that happened.)

#3 Paul Berge
March/3/2021
@ 7:47 am

Doonesbury got shanghaied (can I say that without getting Dr. Seussed?) to the editorial page for series such as “Reagan’s Brain,” which is only fair, I guess.

But to Mary’s point, Doonesbury does have characters and plot and spends weeks at a time without going into politics. None of that can be said about Mallard Fillmore. If Doonesbury took potshots at conservatives day after day after day after day after day, it would be equally tiresome.

#4 Philip Taterczynski
March/4/2021
@ 3:09 pm

I said this in these pages about Mallard twelve years ago and I haven’t changed my mind about this: “I personally object to Mallard Fillmore, not because it is often offensive, or that it relies on tired, sophomoric stereotypes, or that I disagree with its politics, but because it just isn’t funny.”

That’s been true of the strip since the day it premiered and it’s been nothing but the same lame joke day after day for over twenty-five years – “liberals are stupid”. That might be enough for a one-shot by Ramirez or Gorell, but it can’t sustain a strip that needs an actual story line to survive.

At least this time I can make sure that my comment doesn’t contain a typo.

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