Comic Strip: Mallard Fillmore
"I think papers carry this strip for 'balance', i.e., to shut up the Doonesbury critics so they can keep it on the comics page."Mallard Fillmore, by Bruce Tinsley, is about an anthropomorphic duck journalist and the struggles he finds in dealing with a liberal world. It started out as a non-political strip for The Daily Progress, which had asked Tinsley to create a mascot strip for their entertainment page. After several rejections, the eponymous duck won out and the strip was launched. After Tinsley expressed his conservative political views, he found himself out of a job. He successfully sold the strip to The Washington Times in 1992 and eventually got it syndicated nationally by King Features Syndicate.Much like compatriots Prickly City and Doonesbury, the strip is ostensibly a slice of life story with a political bent. When the strip began, Mallard was hired to work at a television news station and thus his co-workers (all liberals, naturally) served as targets for the strip's conservative humor. Over time, this has largely been dropped and most of the supporting cast only appear very rarely. Today the strip just generally portrays Mallard as a mouthpiece for Tinsley's personal views, blurring the line between a straight newspaper comic strip and a series of political cartoons that all happen to feature the same character.
This strip provides examples of:
- Ambiguously Jewish: Mr. Noseworthy strikes one as rather this way, what with his long nose, frizzy hair, and spouting of leftist intellectual gobbledygook. (Then again, maybe the frizzed hair is just supposed to identify him as a Bourgeois Bohemian, and the nose as a sign of superciliousness.)
- Author Filibuster: The cause of every Wall of Text, mentioned below.
- Author Tract: Every strip.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: One comic strip has one woman write her "to-do" list as follows:
- Pay mechanic's bill.
- Pay roofer's bill.
- Pay computer repair guy's bill.
- Make 68th student loan payment.
- Go kick butt of guidance counselor who told me to major in sociology.
- Dear Negative Reader: Occasionally, Mallard addresses his complaining readership, though it's hard to say if the author is quoting actual e-mails or not.
- Expy: More than a few critics have noted Mallard's incredible similarity to Opus the Penguin. This is less obvious on the rare days that Mallard's head is colored — his head is canonically green (being a mallard), but on weekdays, his head is jet black, making the resemblance uncanny.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Like many cartoon ducks, Mallard never wears pants.
- Honorary Uncle: A baby hopes a man is this.
- Interactive Narrator: Tinsley occasionally interacts with Mallard, represented as a pair of floating fingers with a pencil.
- Intrepid Reporter: Technically Mallard, though we don't actually see him doing anything suggesting he researches or sniffs out stories - just that he reports on them.
- No Animals Were Harmed: In one comic strip, the TV that Mallard is watching says, "The following heartwarming holiday special contains 100 percent faux snow; no actual snow was harmed in the production of this program."
- Parody: Something Awful started a trend of rewriting every strip in Ye Olde Butcherede English to hammer home how incredibly ass-backwards and regressive Tinsley's views are. They call it Ye Fowl Herald.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: A frequent target of mockery.
- The strip started with Mallard going out for a job as a reporter and being declined because he's just a duck. He gets the job by pointing out that he's an "Aquatic-American".
- Punny Name: The title character is an obvious play on Millard Fillmore.
- Straw Feminist: This strip has a recurring one, and she's an ugly and bitter hag. Then again, Tinsley also regularly features a brick-brained, glamorous model named Purge Daley, showing that he at least doesn't discriminate against Hollywood Homely women.
- Strawman Political: There's a few stock characters that to serve this purpose and appear only in strips covering their topic (education, feminism, race, etc.). Outside of these, Noseworthy often plays the role of the smug, line-toeing liberal for Mallard to easily criticize. He's also Mallard's boss, but this is really not an issue outside of the initial strips in which Mallard is hired by him.
- A Very Special Episode: Every so often Tinsley will stop being funny and do a strip delivering a serious message about something like abortion or child abuse.
- Wall of Text: Many strips are a pile of word balloons crowding out, at best, a character's head.
- With Us or Against Us: Mallard once pre-empted a professor from invoking Godwin's Law over then-President George W. Bush's use of the phrase by remarking that the professor's generation made "You're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem." a famous rallying cry.
- Worthy Opponent: Chantel, a newscaster who works with Mallard. She's the token non-straw-liberal and appears in the strip on the rare occasions Tinsley agrees with the liberal argument or wants to call conservatives to task over something. However, she started out as a much more empty-headed criticism of liberals like the rest of the cast and the official comic page from King Features still insinuates Mallard only barely tolerates her opinions.