The Press: The Death of Deathless Deer

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Who stabbed Baba Waring, leading lady of Folliana, when the lights went out? Most New York Daily News readers probably don't care. Those who do will never know, because Publisher Joe Patterson murdered Deathless Deer (TIME, Oct. 19).

Deathless Deer was nine months old. Joe Patterson himself had fondly named her. She was the only new comic strip he had bought in nine years. The Deer herself was a beauteous Egyptian princess who in the fourth installment suffered death, then awakened 3,000 years later in a U.S. museum. From there she fared forth to undergo some of the dullest adventures ever seen in a comic strip.

Deer's demise was announced in a curt News box. The paper explained that it was forced to reduce editorial and advertising content because WPB had curtailed newsprint. Therefore, Deathless Deer must go. With her, in the issue of July 19, went Embarrassing Moments, Beauty Answers, Love Answers and the stockmarket column. The fact that the News had recently added a three-page classified ad section was not mentioned.

Last week the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate informed 17 subscribing papers (circulation, plus the News's: about 6,000,000) that for them the strip would end Aug. 21. Deathless Deer's authors took it bravely. They are Joe Patterson's pretty, shrewd daughter Alicia and Artist Neysa McMein (magazine covers) They planned to wind up Princess Deer's present parlous situation (she is accused of stabbing Baba Waring), have her say to her lover in the final syndicate installment: "See you after the war." The ladies were whistling in the dark. Deathless Deer was perhaps the most ineptly drawn of all comic strips. The dialogue was stupid and corny. Newsmen settled down to betting on how long Joe Patterson could stand it. Finally, he gave up, and thus death, as it seldom does to U.S. comic strips, came to Deathless Deer.