Wednesday, August 12, 2009

No "Tank"s

Comics creators have had to deal with censorship for a long time. Walt Kelly of POGO fame was "dinged" enough times that Kelly's fans have a term -- "bunny strips" -- for the harmless substitute strips that the creator was obliged to produce for nervous newspapers editors who balked at printing some of his more sharply-edged politically-themed strips. Carl Barks had an entire DONALD DUCK ten-page story nixed because Donald "was too mean to the villain." Etc. and so on. Another chapter in the long censorship saga was written this week when THE WASHINGTON POST and several other newspapers refused to run a series of TANK McNAMARA strips in which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is urged by former Vice-President Dick Cheney to settle the ongoing controversy over the reinstatement of disgraced quarterback Michael Vick in a rather drastic manner...

I can only speculate that TANK creators Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds -- who've gotten more attention from this caper than their frankly mediocre, unfunny strip has ever merited during its quarter-century of existence -- were referring here to Cheney's well-publicized hunting accident. Or perhaps they're finding it hard to shake off lingering "Bush-Cheney Derangement Syndrome" and simply had to lance the boil publicly. Actually, the ensuing strips, which deal with the NFL's supposed institutionalized racism, may be even more appalling than the "funny hit" bit. Cheney, after all, has been a public figure and fair game for a long time. By contrast, casual accusations of racism thrown at the NFL as an entity splatter a whole bunch of folks who don't deserve it. I can't say I approve of the censorship, but I can certainly understand the logic behind it.

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