The Olean Times Herald and The Bradford Era are dropping the comic strip “Non Sequitur” over a profane message about President Donald Trump drawn into its Sunday edition panel for this past weekend.
Jim Eckstrom, executive editor of the Times Herald, The Era and Bradford Publishing Co., said the decision was made when he learned of the controversy over the vulgar message, which was camouflaged in script on the panel by cartoonist Wiley Miller.
The Sunday comic strip appeared in black and white, and encouraged readers to color in its panels. The profane message appeared in the bottom right of the comic’s second panel.
“It’s just disappointing that someone who has benefitted from working with the newspaper industry for so long would break a trust and pull something like this,” Eckstrom said. “We count on cartoonists and syndicated writers to send material that is witty and forthright, while reflecting what we believe are the values of the families that read our newspapers.
“The cartoon in question appeared on a Sunday comics page, which we hope that adults and children alike will read and become engaged in,” Eckstrom said. “It was just a juvenile, bathroom-wall-level trick that was wrong in so many ways.”
Eckstrom said the decision to drop the comic was not about who the vulgar message was directed at, but the underhanded way in which Miller got the message past his own editors and syndicate. The almost scribbled message was difficult to read and easily overlooked.
Miller, who frequently criticizes President Trump on his Twitter feed, says he forgot all about the scribbled profanity until Sunday.
“When I opened the paper Sunday morning and read my cartoon, I didn’t think anything of it, as I didn’t notice the scribbling that has now caught fire,” Miller said in a statement to The Washington Post, noting that the scribble had been done several weeks ago at a time when he was frustrated by a White House action and forgot to remove it.
Yet on Twitter on Sunday, Miller hinted at the message, writing that, “Some of my sharp-eyed readers have spotted a little Easter egg from Leonardo Bear-Vinci.”
Multiple newspapers said they dropped the comic on Monday.
Kansas City-based Andrews McMeel Syndication apologized for the “vulgar language” in a statement Monday.
“We are sorry we missed the language in our editing process,” the company said. “If we had discovered it, we would not have distributed the cartoon without it being removed. We apologize to ‘Non Sequitur’s’ clients and readers for our oversight.”
Before today, “Non Sequitur” was syndicated to more than 700 newspapers across the country.
The cartoon and it’s profane language remained up on the GoComics’ website until Monday afternoon, when it was changed.
This is not the first time Miller has gone after Trump within the panels of his satirical comic strip. Back in 2016, he drew a cartoon depicting a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe labeled “I’m with Trump.” He also included Trump as a jester in a 2017 cartoon about the legend of the Sword in the Stone.