At first glance, “Tank McNamara” may seem the least likely of comic strips to be pulled from newspapers because of some ugly controversy. Well, except for “Family Circus.” In fact, if pressed, I’ll bet few people can even tell you what “Tank McNamara” is about — it’s just the comic strip in the sports section you always skim over on your way to the baseball box scores and Cialis ads. Even though it’s been around since 1974.
But those fans who read it religiously know that Tank has grown out of his affable doofus stage. No longer a benign character, the athlete-turned-commentator tackles contemporary issues with 21st-century aplomb; hot-button issues such as steroids, gambling addiction, runaway athlete salaries and now … Dick Cheney advising a hit on Michael Vick? What? If you’re wondering why today’s “Tank McNamara” in the Washington Post is a rerun, it’s because the paper has pulled it.
(The offending comic in question is after the jump.)
At issue is this week’s storyline, written by Jeff Millar and illustrated by Bill Hinds, depicting NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking Vice President Dick Cheney for advice on the Michael Vick situation. Cheney responds by telling Goodell to put a mafia-style hit on Vick. I haven’t been following the strip lately so I can’t speak on the context, but here’s the banned comic, below:
No word yet as to how many other newspapers have pulled the comic, if any.
Post Managing Editor Raju Narisetti says the decision was a no-brainer: The original strips were deemed “inappropriate.” The Post sacked the week’s strips, in which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell seeks advice on how to handle the reinstatement of former quarterback/convict Vick, who ran a pit-bull ring that resulted in canine deaths; the storyline attempts to satirize issues such as perceptions of racism by the NFL front office and owners.
*UPDATE*: In an EDITOR & PUBLISHER story today, Universal Press Syndicate, which syndicates the comic, says that no other newspaper has pulled the strip.
Greg Melvin, editor for “Tank McNamara” at Universal Press Syndicate, said, “I absolutely respect [the Post’s decision].” He added that no other papers had objected to the strip’s content as of Monday afternoon, and “I thought the satire was done well.”