Neal Rubin on His Sporting Life with Gil Thorp

In 1996 Neal Rubin reported on the death of cartoonist Jack Berrill and the fate of Gil Thorp.
Neal had no idea that eight years later he would be plotting and scripting the comic strip.
Now, after 18 years writing stories for the iconic high school coach, no more playdowns for Neal.

The Daily Cartoonist reached out to Neal and he graciously responded.

If you read to the bottom of that first Daily Cartoonist report on Henry Barajas taking over the strip you read my speculation that Neal’s move back to The Detroit Free Press was a possible reason for the change in writers.  Neal humored me:

While I can see how you’d connect the dots in terms of newspaper and syndicate ownerships, that’s not something I ever considered, and no one ever brought it up.
The newsroom staffs are eons removed from the corporate structures.

So there is no drama and all is well in Milford.

Neal continues:

When I started writing “Gil Thorp” in 2004, I was a Detroit News columnist, and the strip ran in the Detroit Free Press. I told the features editor of the Free Press that I’d understand if he took my name off it, but he declined – so until they dropped the strip for space reasons years later, I was probably the only person to ever have simultaneous bylines in the two rival newspapers.

As I rejoined the Free Press in April, I decided to focus on columns and let “Gil” go. In truth, after 18 years, I sometimes felt as though I was running short on ideas. As much as I respected Jack Berrill already, I’m agog now at how fresh and lively he kept the strip from 1958-96.

Gil Thorp © Tribune Content Agency

I confess I was worried that Tribune Media would drop “Gil Thorp” rather than find a new writer once I resigned. I know it’s not a huge moneymaker – but I also know it has a devoted fan base, and I think the syndicate recognized that.

I’m looking forward to seeing where Henry Barajas takes the strip. We’ve spoken and exchanged a few emails, and he seems both respectful of the past and eager to find new directions. It should be great fun to come along for the ride.

I loved writing the strip, and I hope it thrives with Henry as the writer.


We thank Neal for setting the record (read: me) straight…


and wish him all the best in his new/old gig.