No ducking out

The quack is back. Below is my column for Sunday’s paper discussing plans for comics — political and otherwise.
Get ready to duck. That’s an editor’s best strategy when making changes to comics.
In this case, it was a duck that made me duck.
Last week, the News Sentinel substituted “Day by Day” for “Mallard Fillmore” on the editorial page.
“Day by Day” by Chris Muir has been a hot comics on the Internet, especially among conservative bloggers.
I learned of the strip several months ago and asked Muir about making it available for print. He took that step recently, and the News Sentinel became the second newspaper in the country to sign up.
As its name implies, “Day by Day” is very timely. Most comics are done well in advance. But Muir creates a fresh strip each day, then makes it available for downloading from the Web.
The comic leans to the political right. But its artwork and dialog are edgy, and one of the main characters is a liberal who pipes up from that end of the spectrum, too.
I had added “Mallard Fillmore” shortly after I became editor to balance the left-leaning “Doonesbury.” “Mallard,” created by Bruce Tinsley of Charlottesville, Va., stars a reporter-duck prone to wise-quacks about political correctness, the media and Democrats.
I thought the comic had run its course, but readers felt otherwise. Starting Monday” “Mallard” will be back on the editorial page next to “Doonesbury.” “Day by Day” will move to the op-ed page.
At the same time, we aer taking the opportunity to begin publishing all three political comics in color.
We also are making changes to our regular comics page to bring back another recently removed favorite. Starting Nov. 28, “Frank and Ernest” will return. It was the most popular of the three comics we dropped a few weeks ago in favor of some newly released ones.
We’ll also be adding another strip called “Kudzu.”
As the name implies, “Kudzu” has a regional theme. Its creator, Doug Marlette, was born in Greenboro, N.C., and grew up in the South. He began drawing political cartoons for the Charlotte Observer, where he won a Pulitzer Prize.
Marlette’s alter ego in the strip is a sort of modern-day Tom Sawyer named Kudzu who can’t wait to leave his sleepy hometown of Bypass, N.C. He doesn’t fully appreciate the lessons of life, love and friendship he learns from the quirky characters around him.
These changes are made possible by juggling features on the funnies and TV pages. “Dear Abby” will move next to the TV grid. Readers have at times complained that its subject matter is too adult for the comics page.
The move allows us to add two comics without losing any and to boost the size of the Sudoku puzzle and the bridge diagram.
As always, your feedback is welcome. E-mail me at editor@knews.com. Call 342-6195 or go to my blog, The Upfront Page, by clicking on the Opinion section of KnoxNews.com.

5 thoughts on “No ducking out

  1. Gary Cinder

    Your responsiveness to the readers is appreciated. Mallard was always a bright spot and I mourned its loss. Thanks for bringing it back.

  2. jonathan hickman

    Well, now that you’ve got two conservative cartoons to oppose one stale liberal one, what are you going to bring back the balance?
    I suggest Rudy Park or Candorville.
    Either way, since you took away the left lean when you came, seems right you’d take away the right lean now.

  3. Unapologetic

    Muir tries to make the war in Iraq something to laugh at. There is absolutely nothing funny about the war, and Muir demeans and trivializes one of the saddest times in our history.

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