Cover Story

I'll never duck a controversy

"I'll never duck a controversy" Continued...

Issue: "The Man Behind the Duck," July 26, 1997

He also learned about the power of local teachers unions when he published a two-week story about homeschooling, which praised home education while belittling public schools. Several newspapers dropped the strip, some under pressure from teachers.

While Mallard has his cantankerous critics, he also has some high-profile fans, like Judge Lance Ito, who requested an original cartoon Mr. Tinsley had drawn of him. And Sen. Jesse Helms loved a cartoon in which he made fun of the senator from North Carolina. "I don't get that from liberals. Maybe conservatives are more tolerant of that kind of thing."

The marketplace of ideas needs more strips like Mallard, Mr. Tinsley says, and more conservative columnists, and stories written from a wider range of viewpoints. "I don't believe in the idea of objectivity as an attainable goal. I think the best we can hope for is lots of different subjective points of view from which a reader can draw his or her own opinion."

He has published two collections of Mallard Fillmore strips, and awaits the arrival of the Mallard Fillmore doll. "I'm not like Bill Waterson," Mr. Tinsley says of the creator of Calvin and Hobbes. "I don't have any ethical problems with making a lot of money off of those kind of things."

As for any similarities between Mr. Tinsley and his duck, they are not hard to spot. "Mallard is pretty close to me," he says. "I'm a little taller."

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