Filling in the Blanks

A reader recently pointed me to this letter to the editor printed in the Appeal-Democrat, a newspaper in Marysville, California:

Letter: Comics change strikes a nerve

January 02, 2011
Your comics section would be greatly enhanced if you left a blank space in each location currently occupied by “Get Fuzzy,” “F-Minus,” and “Pearls Before Swine”: the clean white paper would be a significant improvement in each case. Add “Stone Soup” back to the format and you will have raised the quality of this section by an order of magnitude.

(Name deleted)

Dobbins, California

That got me to thinking.  Would it be better?

Here is the comics page with Pearls Before Swine:


And here is the comics page without it:


If you ask me, that’s an odd layout.

But then I did some more thinking.  What if a reader used the space?

For example, to write down their grocery list:


Or play tic-tac-toe:


Or perhaps to write commentary about other strips:


Best of all, it would be a great place for my wife Staci to write me a friendly little love note:


So to my anonymous friend in Dobbins, California, I say this:  I think the deletion of the strips was the right move.  But the leftover blank space is an oddity that perhaps you didn’t fully think through.
Fortunately, I have.  And now we’re on to something.
Excuse me while I write a letter to the editor.

48 thoughts on “Filling in the Blanks

  1. Maybe anonymous could get it through their thick skull that they aren’t the only ones that read the comics. Just skip over it, hello…. 😉

  2. Ha- me and this person would not get along- they want to eliminate the only funnys I read each day!

  3. “Not thinking the idea through” is an unfortunate characteristic of many Letters to the Editor. Too funny!

  4. Hilarious! Thanks for sharing! Oh, and happy early Birthday from that “crazy lady” who shares your exact same birthday. Here’s to 43!

  5. Clearly this person is not of this century. With all due respect to the institutions that they are, this paper’s comics woudl be greatly improved with the deletions of Blondie, Peanuts and Garfield.

    ….so long as they don’t use Luann as a replacement. That girl needs to be bitch-slapped from here to the want ads. Perhaps Rat could pay her a visit.

  6. That paper still runs “The Elderberries”. My God, that’s the one that should be blank!

  7. Your wife seems sweet. I also note that her writing bears a remarkable resemblance to yours, and though while handy when forging your signature on cheques and credit card slips, it must have taken her ages to get it down just right 🙂

  8. You want wide open spaces? Click on any of the page images and you get a white, pristine page with just this brief missive at the very top:

    The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

    Of course, one of the errors is over use of the comma in the error message … just because there are so many of ’em available, I guess.

    Well done. But subtle.

  9. Hmmm, please allow a moment to remove my foot from my mouth and retract my previous comment…i just reread the post and am now realizing the important and significant differences between the words “would” and “did”

  10. Based solely on the examples given here, I can’t help but notice that your handwriting and your wife’s handwriting seem to be quite similar, if not the same. Now, this means one of two things.

    1) Your wife is a genetic duplicate of you who you had grown in a laboratory.
    2) You are a genetic duplicate of your wife who had you grown in a laboratory.

    Its one or the other. There is no middle ground here.

  11. Cool, I picked up another funny strip….did not know about F-Minus. I figure if Pearls and Fuzz make this guys list I would enjoy the third strip. Seems to me there is plenty of blanks space on the paper already but a little more could be useful…

  12. I know you didn’t intend this to be a “crap on Stone Soup” post, but I just read through the previous month’s worth of that comic and holy shit is it god-awful!

  13. The bozo who wrote that probably thinks the “illustrated panels” of The New Yorker are real knee slappers too. Talk about a waste of ink. Blah.

  14. You are too kind to anonymous in retracting her name, but perhaps it is a wise move as elevating that level of idiocy on a national platform would lead to her having a syndicated radio talk show where she can eventually insult minorities before being offered a spot on a fair and balanced network. Either entirely overthought on my part or dead on, I can’t decide which.

  15. I’m one of those old farts who still think newspapers are relevant. I look forward to sitting in my easy chair that’s duct taped together, grabbing a cup of coffee, and reading in this order: the obituaries (to make sure I’m not dead), the local police beat (to make sure I wasn’t arrested), and the comics (to make sure I still have a sense of humor). I save “Pearls” for last because it is the best, and it reminds me that lawyers can be laughable even after they stop practicing (for me, that was two years ago). Please keep those comics coming, or I won’t know when I’m through with the paper.

  16. As it turns out it’s just “some” of the page image links that don’t work, not “any”. Sigh.

  17. Since I no longer receive a paper, I read my comics online, and now skip all the ok ones – and only read Pearls, Get Fuzzy and Dilbert. So I’d have to strongly disagree with this person’s opinions of funny. If they like the other comics – why can’t they just leave the 3 they don’t like for those that do. Stupid people who think their opinion is the only one that matters, and that the whole world should think like them. If I can skip over Mark Trail, they can skip over Pearls.

  18. Take out Pearls but leave Garfield? The only time I might agree is in the midst of the guard duck threads. Nah. I’d still take out Garfield.

  19. If you’d ever been to Marysville, never mind Dobbins, you’d understand why this person’s opinion of Pearls (or the other cartoons) should not be taken with anything approaching seriousness. Actually, you could go so far as to think of it as a compliment that someone there does not appreciate your humor.

  20. The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle is currently looking for a comic strip to replace Brenda Starr and Pearls Before Swine is one of the four strips in the running. They are running a phone vote to choose the winner. You should advertise the phone number on your blog. It’s 585-377-0798 and people can either call or text. Hopefully Pearls will win and finally be in the paper. It’s much better than a blank space.

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  22. I am seriously questioning the intelligence of this person, who calls for the removal of not one but TWO of my personal favorite strips. Seriously, they want to get rid of “Get Fuzzy” AND “F-Minus”?? What are they thinking? 😉
    Actually, I’ve never heard of F-Minus. Perhaps I shall follow TShort63’s example and check it out. But “Get Fuzzy” and “Pearls” are 2 of my 3 absolute favorites.

  23. Stephan:
    Thanks for the notoriety! You do have loyal fans in the Marysville area, including myself. The Appeal-Democrat doesn’t publish “Elderberries” or “Sherman’s Lagoon,” but your message is clear.
    Is this fodder for a story line? Hmm…
    Len La Barth

  24. I bookmark my favorite comics and read them daily in order of least favorite to most favorite. The top three are Get Fuzzy, F Minus, and Pearls, and it’s been that way for years. Needless to say, that was an especially funny editorial!

  25. Hi. I’m the previous editor of the A-D and was responsible for bring “Pearls” to that newspaper, a decision I had plenty of opportunity to defend over my tenure there. Writers who assess the readership of this newspaper’s comics as the elderly are quite correct. They don’t read the news, just the comics.
    If you think this was controversial, though, you should have seen the hoopla when I elminiated Alley Oop! At a business meeting I was accused by one oldster for making his cancer worse as a result of eliminating the strip. Fortunately, I stood my ground and the controversy died down. The replacement was “Pearls” I never regretted it; the strip makes me laugh so hard sometimes I practically pee.

  26. Haha, so I the three strips eliminated are three of the four strips I actually read (she excluded Dilbert), so I had to check out her suggestion of “Stone Soup.” What a stupid strip! You can tell Dobbins, CA’s funny bone is defective just by reading Stone Soup

  27. Some time ago someone wrote of how your comic strip occasionally successfully satirized the Israeli/Arab conflict with the Crocs wanting to eat their next door neighbors and Pig? Police being unable to decide who was in the right… Or something like that.
    Since that time, I have been hooked.
    Great strip. Brilliant and wacky. Can’t keep her Hans off me…” Oy…
    I continually shake my head in wry bemusement…
    And, what prompted me to find this blog was today’s “Calvin and Hobbes” strip. I just saw one of your books the other day in the 50% off section of Barnes and Noble…
    Even that made me smile…

  28. The number to vote in Rochester is 585-337-0798, and you then press “2” for Pearls.

    The vote is somewhat rigged – they’re running a week each of four strips, so naturally the one that runs first (which was not Pearls) will have the most familiarity over the course of the voting.

    Oh, and the number they’re using is in an exchange so new that it’s not reachable from many phones in Rochester, so that, too.

  29. I think my entire family would unsubscribe to our highly one-sided newspaper if we found out PBS was cancelled. I believe I would cry bitterly. and no, I wouldn’t even open the comics if PBS wasn’t there (I get a kick out of that acronym, don’t you?) If those people want a blank space, take the Family circus or the Bumstead, or even the garfield.

  30. Love the “Pearls” love the “Fuzzy” hate “F Minus.” It pisses me off. I always thought it was appropriately named.

  31. These folks almost always insist on keeping the oldest and unfunniest strips. Garfield ran out of jokes ages ago, Dennis the Menace and Dagwood were never funny and Charles Schulz is dead.

    OT, I was a VERY bad boy so Santa got me a couple of Pearls books as punishment. One had the series about the llama named Ataturk. That was SOME kind of screw-up. I’ve spent time in Turkey, and Ataturk is God, Santa Claus and George Washington all in one, and rightly so. He did wonders for the country. And from a Greek yet! Cok fena, as the Turks say (very bad).

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