“I Killed Martin Luther King”…

I can still remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing, when they told me that I killed Martin Luther King. I was in my house, watching our old black and white TV, and I was nine years old. A talking head looked me right in the eye and said that, while I may not have pulled the trigger, “we ALL killed Dr. King”. I didn’t know then that it was the first of thousands of times I’d hear that over the next forty-seven years.

“We ALL” didn’t. Not just we nine-year-olds didn’t, but all of the people, black and white, who supported his ideal of equality, didn’t. But not just them. People who didn’t support Dr. King’s ideas, disagreed with them, even people who were indifferent to them…they didn’t kill him , either.

James Earl Ray (and any accomplices he might have had) killed Martin Luther King, and to say otherwise trivializes his evil act.

But, to a lot of folks, especially in the media and the academy, it sounded wise, circumspect, gratifyingly contrite and, most importantly, in step with the Zeitgeist (cool), to indict an entire people, and “culture” for the evil of one man.

It was, as I saw it, the beginning of a polemical pattern that metastasized into a philosophy. As I went from the late ’Sixties into the ‘Seventies, everything began to be “society’s fault”, America’s fault, “Western Civilization’s fault,” and basically, anybody’s fault but the person or group who actually DID whatever it was that was done. Kids did drugs because of “societal pressure”, violent criminals, who’ve been committing violent crimes for thousands of years, suddenly killed old ladies and children through no fault of their own, but “because of our society”. Fathers who abandoned their children were simply obeying some sort of cultural imperative that society had thrust upon them.

When evil actions are everybody’s fault, they’re nobody’s fault. And, when we erase individual responsibility, as we’ve been desperately doing for all of these years, we make doing evil and doing good equally meaningless. Just random acts blowing in the wind of circumstance.

Dr. King would be the first to denounce such a “legacy”.

Pluto, redux

Pluto’s in the news again, because it may be reinstated as a full-fledged planet again. That’s great with me, nostalgia-wise. On the other hand, my fear is that the whole thing’s gonna be decided democratically; if enough people WANT Pluto to be a planet, then it’s a planet.


I’m speaking from experience, here; I was raised in the Age of Relativism. Most of my teachers’ mantras were themes and variations on, “nothing is either ‘better or worse’…everything is relative”. So, my generation, and those since, think EVERYTHING’S relative. Two plus two equals whatever I feel as though it should equal, so I should get an “A” in math. No nation’s government is really better or worse; thinking that is judgmental (the single most terrible thing to be, in 21st Century America). American students rank near the bottom in every academic category EXCEPT “how well they THINK they’re doing” academically.

The one thing students apparently DON’T think is relative? Grades. Just try giving one a “D,” and telling him or her, “no grade is really ‘better, or worse; everything is relative”…

And, how would I vote in the Pluto election? I say let’s make EVERYTHING OUT THERE a planet, so nothing feels left out. I got the idea from the system we use to hand out diplomas.

A Message to Fans As Mallard Fillmore Turns 20!

Mallard Fillmore first waddled on the comics scene on June 6, 1994, attracting the attention of many conservative newspapers, and even some liberal ones too.

I want to take this opportunity to say, “Thanks, Mallard fans!”

I can’t believe it was 20 years ago today that Mallard first appeared in newspapers all over the country. Most of the editors who took a chance on Mallard were worried that it would be “too controversial.” They didn’t “get it.” You did. You, loyal fans, who wrote and called your local papers to say you liked Mallard kept my little comic strip going, and have done so for 20 years now. 

As long as you still want me, I’ll keep my end of the bargain; to bring you the stuff you won’t often see in the rest of your paper, and stick up for you: the average hard-working, tax-paying, individual-liberties-loving Americans, who sometimes feel like they’re on the endangered species list.

Below is Mallard Fillmore’s origin story.

Thanks again. Here’s to the next 20 years …

Taking A Trip Down Memory Lane

I know I’m terrible at this “blog” thing, and I’m sorry I haven’t updated it lately.  I could give you a bunch of excuses, but I guess it really boils down to “Life happens,” just as it does for you.

King Features, which syndicates Mallard Fillmore, has a weekly blog feature called “Ask A Cartoonist.” You can find it here. Recently, one of the writers of the blog asked those King Features’ cartoonists who worked with Jay Kennedy, the late Editor in Chief at King Features, to share their memories of him. Jay Kennedy was simply one of my best editors ever. Jay was the person, other than my family, who I talked most to, for 14 years, until his untimely death. I loved our conversations and I really, really miss him. He is responsible for Mallard’s syndication, so I thought I would include my memory of Jay here on my blog.


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“Holiday-Food” Cartoons

’Tis the season for me to get lots of hate mail for my right-wing, mean-spirited, bigoted, Neanderthal position on….food. Yeah. Some of my most controversial cartoons are, apparently, the ones in which I make fun of what passes for food around “The Holidays”.

My response to the aforementioned emails has been to do even more such cartoons. For years now, I’ve made an annual ritual of warning merrymakers about the dangers of pseudo-foods like prepackaged “stuffing”, canned “cranberry sauce” and anything that originates with the ubiquitous “can of cream-of-mushroom soup”.

The most common charge I get is that I’m an “elitist”, because of this. Only I could get tagged as a snob for preferring cheaper, more basic food over mass-produced, prepared stuff.

I’m not pushing “fancy food”, here. On the contrary, my holiday-food tastes are as retrograde as my politics: old-fashioned mashed potatoes made from actual potatoes, for instance, and things made from other perennial populist staples, like lard, and flour, and cut-up stale bread (for stuffing, or “dressing” as folks where I’m from call it).

So, while I’m bracing myself for yet another round of holiday vitriol from quickie-food fans, here’s an  incendiary food-toon from the past to hold you over…


And, since food is on the table, check out my, and 40-something other cartoonists’, food cartoons  in Marion Nestle’s new book, “Eat Drink Vote, an Illustrated Guide to Food Politics”, at these links:


“Made it up”, my ASTERISKS!….

In this comic strip, you get 382 percent more asterisks than in Doonesbury*. Mallard Fillmore has more asterisks than an MLB record-book. Why? So you can check out the sources of the outrageous assertions and iconoclastic animadversions I put in my little comic strip. Because I try to give you the scoop that the mainstream media don’t. Lots of readers find my valuable information so incredible, that they think it must BE incredible.Hence the *s.

My favorite kind of emails are the ones that start out, “I didn’t believe you, but I checked it out”, and end with “why wasn’t THAT on the news?”

This happens, for instance, every time I mention the fact that the vaunted “Head Start” program is really terrific, except for that it, well…. doesn’t work**



(These two recent “Head Start” Mallard strips, which each contain asterisks of their own, AND a link to a newspaper’s investigation of the veracity of Mallard’s Head-Start heresy).

Of course, there are always some folks who’s rather email me to tell me I’m lying, than follow the Asterisk of Truth. (That’s going to happen again this week, when I blow the lid off of the readily available, but rarely reported, fact that TWICE as many public school teachers put their kids in private school as parents who aren’t public school teachers do, so stay tuned, and, as usual, thanks, Walter Williams.)

*I actually DID make this up; the actual figure is probably much higher…

**Here are the asterisky Head Start strips, and the link to the Austin American Statesman’s investigation: http://www.politifact.com/texas/statements/2013/feb/26/mallard-fillmore

I did it again.

Right after last week’s discussion of the backlash from drawing funny pictures of women, I had to go and draw Miley Cyrus for an upcoming cartoon (super-secret sneak preview on this page). But I think I’m safe on this one; there’s not much a cartoonist could do to Miley that she hasn’t done to herself (that didn’t come out right). I mean, the main criticism I get when I draw women is that I’m either “making them look ugly”, or, that I’m “objectifying them”. I think Miley’s already accomplished both things on her own.

What really disturbs me is that I caved to the Zeitgeist and put Miley in a cartoon at all, but she’s virtually unavoidable (in this case, she turned up in a poll* about congressional approval-ratings). (Congress’s is higher.)

Still, I take comfort in believing that there’s somebody, somewhere, who’s risen above peer pressure, and given Miley the ultimate insult. By ignoring her. I take my hat off to him. Or her…




I’ve always drawn caricatures of people, from my teachers and classmates, as a kid, to Barack and Bashar, now.

And they’re still making people mad.

And, just like back in school, it’s usually not the people I draw who get mad, it’s people indignant on behalf of the people I draw.

This has always struck me as a little condescending–“If the person you’re drawing knew better, he/she’d be really offended, so I’m gonna be offended for him”.

It all started in high school. Okay, I admit it. I was one of those people who draw caricatures at fairs and amusement parks. I drew tiny people, huge people, old people, young people, everybody except for The Forbidden Demographic: Daughters Accompanied by their Moms (DAM). I learned at a young age that almost every mom’s sense of humor ends where her daughter’s nose begins. Moms don’t want caricatures of their little (or big) girls. They want Natalie Portman’s head on their kids’ bodies.

I drew a caricature of my wife. Once. I thought it would be a cheap birthday present. Instead it was the most expensive birthday present ever. I’m still paying for it. I also learned that the appropriate response to “You made me look like a drowned rat” isn’t “No, that’s not the part that I did”.

When Hillary Clinton ran for president in 2004, it happened again. Hundreds of Mallard readers complained that I’d “made Hillary ugly”. Never mind that I draw guys (including my all-time hero, William F. Buckley) that ugly all the time. Suddenly, instead of “treat women as equals” it was “you’re pickin’ on a GIRL”.
Yeah. I’m looking forward to 2016…

Hello, there.

This is Bruce Tinsley. I write and draw Mallard Fillmore. This is my very first blog. Ever. I know it looks just like a “column”, or “piece”, but for reasons I don’t fully understand, it’s a blog. And I’m blogging, even as we speak, because it’s a verb, too.

I’m going to do it every week or so, if you, my loyal fans and my chronic critics, (and those of you who are both, like you, Mr. Calgie) like it.

I’m also doing it for myself. Because of all the things in my head that I can’t put into my comic strip, because they won’t fit. But, of course, the biggest reason I’m doing it is so I won’t be the only person in North America who doesn’t have a blog.

See you next week….