I asked Salt Lake Tribune cartoonist Pat Bagley about slipping “Doonesbury” into his strip today after editors declined to publish it in the comics section. Here’s what he tells Romenesko readers:
The March 15th “Doonesbury” cartoon was something of an orphan at The Salt Lake Tribune until I decided to adopt it. An editor determined at the last moment that the “I thee rape” panel was too radioactive for the funny pages—which it probably was. Still, the strip should have been published somewhere in the Tribune. As an artist I understand the artist’s side in these things, and deleting a strip from the series is like lopping off the arms of the Venus de Milo. Even without the arms, Venus is still pretty cool, but who wouldn’t want to see Venus fully armed? It’s all of a piece and deserves to be seen as originally intended.
I don’t think there was anything nefarious about pulling the Doonesbury strip from the comics, but it was clumsy. I just picked up the fumble and ran with it. Believe me, if management was four-square against the strip it wouldn’t have been allowed in my cartoon on the editorial page. I think they were relieved to have it find a home outside of the comics section.
It also gave me another opportunity to ding the very Republican Utah Legislature. The chubby guy with fish lips is my generic Utah legislator and the hot tubbing refers to a recent Republican majority leader of the Utah House of Representatives who confessed to the assembled legislature to having hot tubbed nude with a 15-year-old girl. They gave him a standing ovation.