By Jeff Hofmann
Comic fans may have noticed something missing from The Daily Universe”s classified ad page this week.
The paper”s management has decided to stop running “Rubes,” the comic strip created by Leigh Rubin.
The decision was made after several complaints were received calling the cartoon “tawdry” and “potty humor,” among other things, said Robb Hicken, NewsNet editorial director.
“We have a different audience than most newspapers,” he said. “Our audience has a higher moral sense.”
Rubin, who creates his cartoons from his home near San Luis Obispo, Calif., said he is surprised enough people complained to get the strip removed.
“For every one complaint, there is probably 10 people who enjoy it,” said Rubin, whose comic strip appears in nearly 400 newspapers. “At least people are paying attention.”
Rubin said he realizes that some people may find his work offensive.
“I think there”s a risk involved, especially when you”re trying to be funny,” he said. “Humor is so subjective.”
Management had been monitoring “Rubes” for several months before making the decision to pull the strip, Hicken said.
“There was just one too many instances of cartoons with a ghost wearing a negligee, smoking a cigarette, and things like that,” said Michael Perkins, communications department chair.
The Daily Universe purchases comic strips in a syndicated package that includes editorial cartoons, the crossword puzzle and comics such as “Rubes” and “Dilbert,” Hicken said.
Rubin said he is sorry if his comics offended anyone, but he doesn”t apologize for his strip”s content.
“I created an effect. That”s a good thing. I didn”t hurt anybody,” Rubin said.
Reader reaction to The Daily Universe”s decision has been mixed.
Kordel Braley, 23, from Union City, Calif., said he found “Rubes” funny at times, but there were also times when the strip crossed the line of good taste.
“If something is out of line with Honor Code principles, it has no place in our paper,” said Braley, a freshman civil engineering major. “You can get The Salt Lake Tribune for stuff like that.”
Others were glad to see the strip go, but for different reasons.
“I was never offended by it, but I didn”t think it was funny, either,” said Bryant Smith, a senior from San Jose, Calif., majoring in computer science.
Senior Jason Albert, 26, an agronomy major from Chico, Calif., said he has read “Rubes” in The Daily Universe for several years. He said he doesn”t understand the reasoning behind the decision to remove the cartoon.
“I don”t remember reading anything that I thought was questionable,” Albert said. “What are they going to use as a substitute, ”Prince Valiant”?”
“Rubes” will be replaced by another comic strip from the syndicated package The Daily Universe purchases, Hicken said.
Rubin said he hopes Daily Universe readers get a chance to see his comic strip again.
“I think management would be wise to reconsider,” he said.