Mike Marland Ends R.F.D.

So I’m scrolling through The Pickens County Courier comics page checking out the latest strips

from King Features Weekly Service (KFWS) when I read a notice below Mike Marland’s R.F.D.

“Please Note: R.F.D. will retire on 1/30/23”

The Daily Cartoonist reached out to Mike about that and he graciously responded:

Yes, R.F.D. comes to an end on Jan 30 after 30 years of syndication with King Features Weekly Service.

Due to health issues involving arthritis Mike had stopped drawing editorial cartoons a couple years ago, and now he is retiring his R.F.D. comic strip. Mike explains that because of how he is forced to create his comic he no longer feels the joy of cartooning:

And yes, I quit editorial cartooning back in 2021 due to the fact that my drawing skills had declined dramatically (though some might argue they saw little difference as they’d always been pretty bad!) due to arthritis and essential tremor…

R.F.D. has been created entirely in Photoshop since August 2020, mostly via mouse. Because of the different positioning of my hand when working a mouse the tremor and arthritis does not affect it. I scanned in a lot of my character worksheets (I used to use these to draw my pencil roughs on a light table) and re-drew them using a mouse. I scanned scenery and rooms and other needed bits & pieces from past strips and tweaked them in Photoshop. If you’re a boomer you’re most likely familiar with Colorforms – creating the strips turned into something akin to playing with Colorforms only more like cut & paste & move around. I’d created an image library of all the parts I’d need to make an R.F.D. strip. I’d type in the dialogue, put it in balloons, add the characters, put some scenery behind them and voila – a comic strip. It worked, but I missed drawing the strips with pen & paper and they definitely had a stiffer look to them. I’m slowly shuffling my way into retirement and  the time just felt right to end the strip.

As Mike says above R.F.D. has been with KFWS for thirty years but it was created ten years before that.

From the About page at the R.F.D. comic page:

R.F.D. began in 1982 with a short run as a weekly comic strip in my hometown newspaper
The Littleton Courier (Littleton, NH). The strip featured rural humor starring The Poole Family –
Sim, May, June and Uncle Henry.

In 1983 The Union Leader (Manchester, NH) took the strip on a trial basis. A reader poll was used to
determine the strips fate. The response was less than overwhelming but it survived and was moved
to the comics page where it ran as a daily (six times a week) from May 1983 to May 1986, went on a
hiatus and ran again from March 1988 to April 1992.

Over the years I had been submitting R.F.D. every couple of years to the comics syndicates.
Success was finally achieved in 1992 when King Features added R.F.D. to their Weekly Services
package. The strip was back to being a weekly and the Pooles had to lose their New Hampshire
accents but now they were being read all around the country. It began running with King Features in
May of 1992 …

The earliest R.F.D. (aka Rural Free Delivery) found from the King Features Weekly Syndicate was for the week of May 11, 1992* – published in the May 14, 1992 edition of The Kosciusko Star-Herald (above).

  • The KFWS schedules their weekly features for the Monday of each week though most of the newspapers that run them are weeklies published on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Thus the final strip scheduled for January 30, 2023 will run in The Pickens County Courier issue of February 1, 2023.

It is unknown what KFWS has planned for R.F.D. though one would think that if the syndicate is notifying clients that the strip is ending they don’t plan on continuing to distribute the comic with reruns.

© King Features Syndicate

Mike has been a gag writer for the Snuffy Smith comic strip for 22 years and plans to continue contributing gags for the foreseeable future. So his comics career has not ended.

As for my editorial website, it’s all still there, minus some links and being reorganized into an archive which I’ll be adding more to.

R.F.D. Has always had a separate website: rfdcomic.weebly.com , the future of which is up in the air at the moment.