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Posted at 6:00 AM ET, 07/17/2008

The Morning Line: All the Moose That's Fit to Print

By Michael Cavna

A fluent-in-French moose can meander in Wiley world... (Universal Press Syndicate)

...but moose get chased right off Elrod's land. (North America Syndicate)

My first rejection slip from a syndicate dogged me for months: The comics editor's reply was complimentary yet included a curious sole reason for passing on the strip. My feature included a fedora-wearing koala character who was a reporter -- hey, this little muckraking marsupial had been a hit in college -- but the editor said my reporter need not be an animal. The nudge was to "go human."

About six months later, the very same syndicate launched a comic strip about a reporter. Who was an animal. Only this reporter was ... a duck. That's right -- a fedora-wearing, tweedy-jacketed duck. My take-away lesson (or at least rationalization): The syndicate did not want a second walking-and-talking animal reporter covering a similar comic beat.

It's acceptable to have multiple dogs and cats and even rats running around willy-nilly in many strips, but most other animals must be of a species (and in my case, an occupation) that's not already taken in the funnies. In other words: It's a territorial jungle out there. So imagine our amusement when this week, we stumbled upon a deuce of moose charging across this week's comics, in separate strips. What in the name of "Saskatchewan" is going on here? Unbeknownst to us, are moose as cartoony mascot suddenly the "new" penguin, panda or talking tweed duck?

As it turns out, both moose are treading familiar comic tundra -- "Non Sequitur" and "Mark Trail"-- and neither is a starring character. But it does give us a prime excuse--er, opportunity -- to introduce the new Comic Riffs interactive feature: "Who Drew It Better?" We ask you the reader to voice your opinion: Who drew it better: Wiley Miller or Jack Elrod? Vote here, and remember: If you're thinking of securing the film rights to the next hot animated project based on a moose-like mammal ("Kung Fu Caribou"?), now apparently is the time to do it.

By Michael Cavna  | July 17, 2008; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Morning Line  
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