Comic rejoinder

The most venomous piece of hate mail I’ve seen in more than three decades of reading and collecting the stuff was written in reaction to The Detroit News’ decision, years ago, to cut Conan the Barbarian from its comics pages.

It was in typescript, Magic Marker and crayon. The handwritten comments filled the margins of the pages.

In the weeks since we decided to replace two longtime cartoon favorites, Max Cannon’s Red Meat and Tom Tomorrow’s This Modern World, with new comics, I have — to put it mildly — heard from readers. And to those who suggested that somehow the decision was due to lack of “balls,” a payoff by Republicans, complicity in a neo-con conspiracy to silence its critics, soft brains, hardened arteries or common idiocy, you have a long way to go before you’ll match the rabid, white-hot fervor of that long-ago Conan fan.

But most of you who objected did so civilly and reasonably, and we answer each with an explanation of our decision. Written by Metro Times copy editor Michael Jackman, whose duties include handling our letters section, here it is, as we often tell our correspondents, edited for space:

“The question wasn’t whether the strips were any good — clearly we have carried them so long because of their quality. What prompted the move was a larger debate on the function of alternative newsweeklies. Just as Tom Tomorrow and Max Cannon could never have reached audiences without the help of publications like Metro Times, we feel that we have a duty to present newer, younger cartoonists exploring new styles in the medium.

“It was with this in mind that we sought out fresh voices with a quality beyond their meager syndication. Mikhaela Reid is a 25-year-old political cartoonist for the Boston Phoenix and Bay Windows. Her work has appeared in a handful of national magazines. Editorial cartoonist Ted Rall says, ‘Mikhaela B. Reid is, at the start of a promising career, already one of America’s sharpest political cartoonists.’

“Nicholas Gurewitch is a painter, actor, filmmaker and cartoonist living in New York state. Since winning the Baltimore City Paper’s comics contest in 2003, his unusual strip has started appearing in several papers, including The New York Press. Last month, the strip won a jury prize at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD, for ‘Best Online Comic.’

“Needless to say, if you absolutely need your weekly fix of the wit of Tom Tomorrow and Max Cannon, their work is available at and”


On a different topic: To those who suggested that my last column — which explained the reservations we continue to have about our endorsement of Freman Hendrix for mayor — was co-written by Sharon McPhail and King Kwame, and/or paid for by them:

1) The endorsement stands, and not just because the alternative is unthinkable. 2) We were neither the source of the allegedly damaging, incomplete documents about Freman’s golf dome deal, nor were we the ones to cast them in a sinister light. 3) For many weeks now, the loans have been heatedly discussed on the street and online, stoked by an increasingly desperate Kilpatrick camp. 4) Despite the conclusions drawn by some media about the subject, I personally don’t believe they’re any more certain than we are about exactly what went on in that deal. 5) We’ve repeatedly asked Freman for a single, common document that could settle the topic, and believe he owes it to Detroit voters and the region to take office (a very good bet) without this or any other cloud following him in.

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