CSotD: The Editor Weeps

Cartoonists at syndicates have editors, but this Baby Blues (KFS) got through without anyone noticing that, if they “all” got to choose one thing, Zoe would have to persuade her classmates to vote to stick Hammy in the time capsule.

It should have read “each.”


Bill Whitehead had a closely related error in Free Range (Creators), but apparently caught it between the time it was posted to GoComics and the time it escaped into the wild.

If they were both married to someone else, they’d add the problem of bigamy to whatever else is wrong.

Someone using “it’s” in place of “its” or vice-versa is usually more of a typographical error than anything else, and it’s very rare that it causes confusion, though an editor should still catch it.

But “both” or “all” in place of “each” is the kind of clinker that changes the meaning of the sentence and, in the above cases, should bring the reader to a halt, even though it’s clear what was intended.

That sort of thing needs to be caught, because, at best, it’s a distraction, while, in other contexts, it could lead to serious confusion.

Although if someone wrote that all Americans are going to get a check for $1400, I think most people would know what was intended.

But I was dismayed when a well-known copy editor at a major paper insisted to me that “may have” and “might have” were equivalent.

No. “It may have saved his life” means he’s alive. “It might have saved his life” means he’s dead.

Big difference, and, in any case, proper usage should matter both for clarity and for your professional pride.

Good writers — and I would assume good cartoonists — are grateful for editors who catch such errors, though my experience in newspaper production was that the copy editors would call me with a tone of concern while, if the error were caught in the back shop, the pressmen would call roaring with laughter at my expense.

Still, better to take a little raucous mockery than to let something stupid escape the building. (And if the guys in the backshop don’t like you, they’ll keep quiet and let you make a fool of yourself.)

All that said, grammar and usage are different than factual errors, which leads to this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(La Cucaracha – AMS)


(Rabbits Against Magic – AMS)

I’m not sure how much conversation about content goes back and forth between editors and cartoonists, though if something is potentially offensive because of a grammar/usage error or an unclear illustration, there will be conversation.

But I don’t know that an editor would raise a flag over the apparently factual error in this La Cucaracha, in which the characters say that families are still being separated at the border.

I say “apparently” because, while it’s a current anti-Biden talking point, the White House and Immigration say that the policy of separating families is (mostly) over and that the “kids” being detained alone are almost all unaccompanied minors, mostly teenagers.

To which I would simply observe that, if two 16-year-olds hold up a convenience store, they’re rarely described as “children.”


It’s all related to this Nick Anderson (Tribune) cartoon, in which he defends Biden by stating that Trump loyalists have simply shifted the blame for an ongoing problem.

The unspoken question is “What are you going to do about it?” though, granted, Trump policies of family separation and sending refugees back across the border to await their hearings may, indeed, have slowed things down.

Just as fewer East Berliners went to West Berlin when everyone knew there was a wall and a chance of being shot if you climbed over.

When a cartoonist’s intentions are political, editors should probably limit their interference to occasionally giving newspapers a heads up that something potentially controversial is coming.

Still, facts matter, even when you’re exaggerating them for the sake of satire.

The Hasbro topic is less an issue of politics than of simply paying closer attention, and of the old newsroom edict “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

In this case, despite the assertions of pearl-clutchers and wise-asses, Hasbro continues to sell Mr. Potato Head and Mrs. Potato Head. They’re simply selling them under the “Potato Head” brand.

Think of them as plastic Lockhorns. The comic strip is about Leroy and Loretta and goes by their last name. Same thing here, except that the Lockhorns come together and the Potato Heads are sold separately.

However, let me add this serious note on a related topic:

There is absolutely nothing funny in cartoons in which some character “identifies as” something silly.

Mocking transgender people is no different than mocking any other minority.


It risks putting you in the same category as Senator Ron Johnson who, as this Clay Jones cartoon points out, spewed racism in a radio interview, saying that he didn’t find white supremacist terrorists attempting to overturn the election scary, but that, if they had been BLM demonstrators and antifa, that would have scared him.

It kind of left Jones with little to parody, so he did something more powerful: He quoted Johnson and illustrated the event.


Similarly, in London, Peter Schrank took the option of reportage in lieu of satiric exaggeration, after police broke up a peaceful march mourning the murder of a young woman who had disappeared while walking home.

As in the Ron Johnson case, the facts of the case really left him nothing to exaggerate.


And on a related issue in Australia, David Rowe (Financial Review) contrasts the scene of women marching against discrimination and violence with the case of Attorney General Christian Porter, accused of raping a young woman in 1988, when they were teenagers, apparently a case of a sexual encounter that went beyond the level to which she had consented.

He’s getting little sympathy.


If nobody is marching in support of Porter, First Dog on the Moon (Guardian) notes that women do march, and must march, and continue to march, despite and because of the apparent futility.

A case where the editor hires the furiously righteous, then gets out of his way.



5 thoughts on “CSotD: The Editor Weeps

  1. You missed the other error in FREE RANGE, too. Incompatibility is spelled wrong in panel that got fixed! (Each instead of Both)

  2. Re Baby Blues, bear in mind that Zoe is a little kid. Would not expect her to have perfect grammar. For many characters in many strips, it would be entirely “out of character” to speak with proper English.

  3. True, Mark, though I’d have Dad-teased her over it, which is how they learn.

    But your overall point is valid. I found the perfect grammar in Peanuts off putting, though I will admit I improved my vocabulary from reading the strip. Still, I often found Linus particularly pedantic.

  4. I think the original cartoon by Whitehead is fine (horrors!) in that I don’t misread it on the first go. The all/each distinction, though, caught my attention, and I went through the draft of my novel checking every “all,” and I found one that should’ve been an “each.” So thanks for that!

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