Mallard Fillmore

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This article is about the political-themed comic strip. For the U.S. president, see Millard Fillmore. For the DC Comics character, see Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!.
Mallard Fillmore
Mallard Fillmore title panel.png
Title panel for Mallard Fillmore Sunday strips.
Author(s) Bruce Tinsley
Current status / schedule Running
Launch date May 30, 1994
Syndicate(s) King Features Syndicate
Genre(s) Political

Mallard Fillmore is a comic strip written and illustrated by Bruce Tinsley that has been syndicated by King Features Syndicate since May 30, 1994. The strip follows the exploits of its title character, an anthropomorphic green-plumaged duck who works as a politically conservative reporter at fictional television station WFDR in Washington, D.C. Mallard's name is a pun on the name of the 13th president of the United States, Millard Fillmore.

History[edit]

In 1991, Bruce Tinsley, who was an editorial cartoonist for the Charlottesville, Virginia paper The Daily Progress, was asked to create a cartoon character as a mascot for the newspaper's entertainment page. A duck, which Bruce named "Mallard Fillmore," was accepted, and made his debut in the paper.

Tinsley started sending samples[citation needed] of Mallard Fillmore, then known as The Fillmore File, to newspapers across the country and was eventually picked up by The Washington Times, which began running it in 1992. The strip was later picked up for national syndication by King Features Syndicate, which began distributing it in May 1994.

Characters[edit]

Mallard getting hired for being an "Amphibious American".

Mallard Fillmore is the main character in the comic strip. He is a seasoned conservative reporter for fictional television station WFDR-TV in Washington, D.C., which hired him in order to fill its quota for "Amphibious Americans."

Although Mallard is a mallard duck, he is only occasionally shown with a mallard's coloring. Even when the daily strip is printed in color, Mallard generally appears as solid black. He does not exhibit any ducklike behaviour, and the other characters (who are all human) never comment on his species, except in the strip setting up the premise.

Mallard yearns for the "good old days," and views himself as a victimized underdog in a world that is being overrun with political correctness, religious secularism, and hypocrisy. He is often in a state of outrage over the news item of the day, usually involving liberals.

Mallard's politics are very close, if not one and the same, to cartoonist Bruce Tinsley's; as Tinsley told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that "Mallard really is about as close to me as you can get," in an October 2005 interview. Tinsley has used the considerable power of Mallard in personal matters. For instance, after he was arrested for DUI, he attacked the judge in his cartoon and influenced the judge's election defeat.

Although WFDR appears to be a small, local channel, Mallard is still capable of interviewing famous politicians such as Al Gore. Occasionally, he will mention a study done by the "Fillmore Foundation," a think tank which may or may not actually exist in the comic strip, which he presumably heads. Mallard seems to be conscious of the fact that he is a fictional cartoon character, and is capable of "feeling poorly drawn." Mallard is also a bachelor, though in 2002 he had a date with a human woman he met in line at the post office. The date did not go well because he did not agree with her politics. He appears to be quite fond of Ann Coulter. Mallard did not attend journalism school, a fact repeatedly commented on in the comic, usually as an explanation as to why Mallard does not understand something about the WFDR news priorities.

Other characters from the strip:

  • Chet is a co-worker of Mallard's at WFDR. He is an arrogant, vain, superficial, Botox-injecting, clothes-obsessed Caucasian male. In a series of strips in late 2003, he discovered he is a "metrosexual."
  • Chantel, an African-American woman reporter, is a co-worker of Mallard's at WFDR. She is described as "smart, aggressive, and liberal." Unlike most liberals depicted in "Mallard Fillmore," she is presented as an intelligent, competent person. She is usually used whenever a scene calls for a minority or a minority perspective – although she is offended when her colleagues assume she speaks on behalf of all African-Americans. On average, she appears about once or twice a year.
  • Dave Quat, a conservative Vietnamese man, is Mallard's best friend, who generally agrees with Mallard's politics. He is the owner of his own diner, aptly named "Dave's Diner." His wife has never been seen.
  • Rush Quat is Dave's young son. He is named after conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh. Rush is in the fourth grade and hopes to someday become a professional basketball player; he sometimes plays basketball with Mallard. Unlike most of the kids in his class, he does not take Ritalin.
  • Eddie is Mallard's pet fish. Unlike Mallard, he does not speak but only comments in thought balloons.
  • Congressman Pinkford Veneer is a fictional Washington, D.C. Democratic Congressman. He is a spineless, hypocritical, out-of-touch politician who enjoys tax hikes and opposes school vouchers, even though he sends his own children to a private school. In April 2000, he authored a bill that would require criminals to "give their victims a 30-second waiting period to unlock their trigger-locks" on their guns.
  • Bruce Tinsley, the cartoonist, sometimes appears in the comic strip, represented by a giant hand holding a pencil over the scene. The other characters are capable of interacting with him, and presumably are aware that they are fictional comic strip characters. "Bruce Tinsley" usually comments on how things are depicted in an editorial cartoon. For example, a series of strips from June 1999 deals with Mr. Noseworthy arguing with "Bruce Tinsley" over how the cartoonist should depict a mugger.
  • OSHA-Boy is a guardian of workplace safety and safe working conditions who is authorized to "annoy virtually anyone suspected of violating a regulation." He appears to be a flying, glasses-wearing dwarf (or other creature) with a superhero-like costume, and a clipboard in hand. He appears to be a physical manifestation of OSHA.
  • Dr. Dilton Twinkley, an education expert, often appears as a guest on WFDR to talk about education issues. He appears to be an exaggerated parody of the NEA and U.S. public school system officials.
  • Larry, a co-worker of Mallard's who gets agitated whenever Mallard does not purchase candy from his son for his school's annual fundraisers.
  • Mr. or Ms. P.C. Person, a superhero-like physical manifestation of political correctness who prides hirself on being gender-neutral.(This character has come under fire from transgender rights groups because they felt the character promoted bigotry and mockery of transgendered individuals.)
  • Eddie Fillmore, Mallard's unseen father, a World War II veteran. According to Mallard, he spent three years in the Navy aboard the San Jacinto.

Recurring themes[edit]

  • The Liberal Lexicon — Satiric definitions of liberal “buzzwords” or phrases.
  • Liberals, the Early Years — Liberal stereotypes during the Stone Age.
  • Mallard's Gift Ideas
  • Mallard Hits Women's Issues
  • Mallentines — poetry facially related to Valentine's Day
  • A Mallard Issue Brief
  • Mallard Mating Rituals
  • Mallard's New Year's Predictions/Resolutions
  • Puerto Ricans
  • Mallard's Back-to-School Predictions/Facts
  • Belgian Art and Food
  • Minority Hair
  • The Taste of Coins — Mallard licks a piece of currency and comments on the flavor
  • Dear Mallard — Mallard responds to reader mail.

Controversies[edit]

Parody in America (The Book)[edit]

In the 2004 book America (The Book), written by the staff of The Daily Show, a parody of Mallard Fillmore appears in a section about political cartoons (which also included parodies of Peanuts and Doonesbury strips). In the parody, Mallard criticizes legislation protecting the environment, as well as the income tax, and concludes "Ooops! I forgot to tell a joke!"

In the strip's 5–8 July 2005 editions, Tinsley responded to the America (The Book) parody, claiming that Jon Stewart "tried to deceive people into thinking it was a real [Mallard Fillmore strip]" by using the comic's name and a fictitious date.[1]

The 2006 paperback "Teacher's Edition" of America (The Book) further addresses this controversy. On the page with the Mallard strip, Stanley K. Shultz, a college professor hired to correct factual inaccuracies in the book, remarked that "This does not appear to be an authentic 'Fillmore' cartoon, although the authors of this book have captured accurately the strip's level of humor."

The Daily Show staff worked in another jab at the comic strip in Earth (The Book)," where the strip Love is... is referred to as "a creepy cartoon that makes Mallard Fillmore look funny."

Jewish stereotypes[edit]

On January 4, 2005 a Mallard Fillmore strip was published featuring a television executive whom bloggers accused of being a Jewish caricature that promoted the anti-Semitic stereotype that "Hollywood is run by Jews."[2] The strip did not run in some of its normal venues, such as the Boston Globe[citation needed]. While the main "Mallard" page only shows a week's worth of cartoons at a time,[3] this cartoon is available on Jewish World Review's web site.[4]

The strip's caricature of Jon Stewart, with a long, downwardly pointed nose, was criticized by satirist Stephen Colbert, who, during a December 14, 2006 show, joked that the caricature may have been "clip art from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion."[5] Tinsley has since stated about Stewart that "honestly, I didn't even know he was Jewish."[6]

Tax burden overstated[edit]

In 2004 Nobel laureate economist Paul Krugman cited Mallard Fillmore as an example of misinformation. A strip showed a taxpayer attacking his TV set with a baseball bat and yelling: "I can't afford to send my kids to college, or even take 'em out of their substandard public school, because the federal, state and local governments take more than 50 percent of my income in taxes. And then the guy on the news asks with a straight face whether or not we can 'afford' tax cuts."

Krugman stated, "Very few Americans pay as much as 50 percent of their income in taxes; on average, families near the middle of the income distribution pay only about half that percentage in federal, state and local taxes combined." [7]

Book collections[edit]

Title Publication Date ISBN
Mallard Fillmore October 1, 1995 ISBN 0-8362-0778-5
Mallard Fillmore. ...on the Stump May 1, 1996 ISBN 0-8362-1311-4

See also[edit]

Portal icon Conservatism portal

References[edit]

External links[edit]