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Entire Gannett Group Drops Mallard Fillmore

Cartoonist Bruce Tinsley is saying that the Gannett Group of newspapers
has dropped his Mallard Fillmore comic strip en masse.

Bruce Tinsley, creator of the 27-year-old cartoon, said he was told this week by his syndication company that Gannett newspapers across the country simultaneously dropped the comic over two strips critical of President Biden and transgender participation in women’s sports.

“It was a big shock,” Mr. Tinsley told The Washington Times. “From what I’m hearing, it was unprecedented. My syndicate had never seen anything like it.”

He said officials at King Features, which syndicates the cartoon, said that “a decision was made at the [Gannett] corporate level, and they weren’t sure exactly why, except that they were sure it was about those two cartoons.”

The two comics ran Feb. 19-20. The first depicts Mr. Biden musing: “For too long, segregation sullied women’s sports … They were restricted to women! Thank goodness those dark days are over.”

In the second cartoon, Mr. Biden says, “I hear what you, the American people, want me to do … kill fossil-fuel jobs … devalue Americans’ labor … and help more transgender athletes beat the *@!# out of biological females.”


Mallard Fillmore © King Features Syndicate

The Washington Times is reporting the wholesale cancellation.

The story continues:

His strip has been dropped before — sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently — but he said those moves were made by local editors on a newspaper-by-newspaper basis, not by corporate headquarters in a decision affecting multiple publications.

“So I’m used to this phenomenon, I’m just not used to it coming from the corporate level,” Mr. Tinsley said. “I still don’t know how many. They said it had never happened before. it was all at once and it was a mandate from the corporation, not any individual editors’ decisions.”

The Gannett website lists over 250 daily newspapers as part of the group,
though it is unknown how many of those newspapers carried Mallard Fillmore.

Our report yesterday listed The Stockton Record, The Sarasota Herald Tribune,
and The Indianapolis Star as dropping Bruce’s comic, they are all Gannett papers.

Of course if only half, or even a quarter, the 258 daily papers had carried the strip…

[Tinsley] said “Mallard Fillmore” continues to be syndicated by King Features — “They’ve been really supportive” — and that his editors warned him that his royalty check would be significantly smaller with the strip running in fewer newspapers.

“They said, ‘We knew you would not believe it when you see your check, because this is a huge hit,’” Mr. Tinsley said.

He said he took time off last year due to a long illness. During that time, the syndicate brought in another cartoonist, Loren Fishman, to draw “Mallard Fillmore,” and that they now split duties.

 

Community Comments

#1 Ignatz
March/4/2021
@ 6:39 am

Mallard Fillmore is pure editorial, unlike Doonesbury, or even Prickly City. It has one recurring character, and he does nothing but give his opinion on politics, which almost always conforms to current Republican talking points. It’s not nearly as clever as most editorial cartoons, and you think it’s well drawn until you realize it’s almost always the same handful of pictures and poses. Why does anybody carry it?

As for the above, the target isn’t Biden, but trans people. Gannett decided that they didn’t want that associated with their newspaper. That’s just capitalism, which Tinsley claims to strongly support. But I guess not when he’s the one on the negative end of market decisions.

#2 Scott McDaniel
March/4/2021
@ 6:44 am

This is nothing but proof of the old saying “You can tell a lot by who you aren’t allowed to criticize.” Of course, the sycophants will be offering apologia forever as to why this is okay.

#3 Christopher Schwehr
March/4/2021
@ 7:25 am

Cancel culture censorship at it’s worst….Does Gannet burn books too?

#4 Robb McAllister
March/4/2021
@ 8:12 am

Perhaps it’s just not a very good comic strip? It seems to rotate between being bland, ridiculous, false, and unfunny.

Isn’t removing something that doesn’t ‘work’ capitalism at its best?

#5 Kip Williams
March/4/2021
@ 9:17 am

Looks like a commercial decision to me. Maybe the removal reflects a consensus whose hopes went up briefly when a new cartoonist, apparently learning on the job, brought a degree of life to a moribund strip, and then were dashed when Tinsley’s lazy scrawls and barely rephrased talking points returned. After that, it wasn’t hard to find a reason to decide not to keep subjecting people to a mediocre strip while putting money in Tinsley’s pockets (which they’d done for years up to then).

#6 Brad Walker
March/4/2021
@ 9:59 am

How much of his business was due to providing “balance” to Doonesbury?

#7 JP Trostle
March/4/2021
@ 10:56 am

The Times can spin this as leftist cancel culture all they want — Gannett is actually GatehouseMedia now, having been absorbed in a merger last year — and one of GateHouse’s first act was to fire the last of Gannett’s staff cartoonists. They hate paying for anything and have slashed personnel and content by 40% since the takeover.

#8 Mary Ella
March/4/2021
@ 11:51 am

Hm. It’s almost as if these big news conglomerates have too much control over content because of outsized market share. One might even say that maybe some monopoly-busting is what needs to happen in this case. I seem to remember a presidential candidate that may have used that as part of her platform, but Tinsley was probably too busy drawing her with feathers on her head to notice.

#9 Clay Jones
March/4/2021
@ 12:47 pm

You guys may not be aware of this but Gannett is doing the cookie-cutter thing now. They send out the same editorial page for each of their newspapers to use. How do I know this? Because every Gannett/GateHouse paper that carried my cartoons has dropped me. It’s purely financial but I should probably say I’m being “canceled” to get some mileage out of it.

If Gannett papers were running Mallard on their opinion pages, then this explains the cancellation. But, I suspect here that Gannett will also be using the same comics page for all their newspapers. Either way, buh-bye, hater duck.

I know, it’s much easier for conservatives to claim they’re being persecuted for being conservative, white, old, male, Christian, stupid, etc, but as with most things, there is usually more context than a Republican can understand.

#10 JP Trostle
March/4/2021
@ 3:21 pm

Slight clarification: GateHouse Media laid off the last of the staff cartoonists at papers it already owned at the time of its takeover of Gannet. So cartoonists like Mike Thompson is still working for the Gannett-owned USAToday.

#11 Matthew Johnson
March/4/2021
@ 9:11 pm

To the people who’ll inevitably complain about the strip being “cancelled” by “political correctness”, bear in mind that “political correctness” (ie so papers could carry it alongside Doonesbury to not appear “too liberal”) was the only reason the strip was ever widely carried in the first place.

#12 Jason Tremblay
March/5/2021
@ 10:05 am

Anybody repeating that “you know who rules over you by who you can’t criticize” is either profoundly misinformed, or being grossly disingenuous. For one, it’s not that old, by any stretch of the imagination; it didn’t come from Voltaire, or any eminent philosopher: it originally came from Kevin Strom, who is a literal white supremacist, among other things, and he wrote it in a self-published newsletter in 1993!

Don’t say it! Don’t repeat it! It’s not a good sentiment, and it’s doesn’t originate from a good place! If you think it’s good–you’re not a good person!

Feel free to look this up, by the way.

#13 P.J. Terryberry
March/5/2021
@ 12:52 pm

It’s not even a comic, it’s a head spouting conservative talking points. Say what you want about Prickly City but at least it has a setting, characters with personalities and isn’t just regurgitating Fox News.

#14 Bob Gorrell
March/7/2021
@ 8:56 am

Ignatz’ argument that this decision is merely “capitalism” would ring much more true had not the cartoonist community raised Holy Hell when Rob Rogers was sacked from the
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over his cartoons criticizing Trump. Is it justifiable to cancel a loud conservative voice over editorial differences, but blasphemy to cancel a loud liberal voice?

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