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Posted at 10:45 AM ET, 10/12/2009

Should 'Tank McNamara' Be Cut From the Team? Time to Defend That 'Toon

By Michael Cavna




Time once again to Defend...That...Toon:

Much has changed since "TANK McNAMARA" first traded in his NFL shoulder pads for a broadcaster's jacket back in the days of Don Shula and Dick Butkus and the crew-cut Johnny U. "Tank" was born in the shadow of Title IX and before Super Bowl IX, when everyone from Billie Jean King to Don King was at the fore of the sporting world.

Before ESPN, before the NFL's 16-game regular seasons, before most top major-sport athletes were multimillionaires, "Tank" was providing topical commentary on sports. But that was before the rise of sports-talk radio, too, so while the strip has benefited from sports becoming a 24/7 media industry, it also can seem warm and tamely antiquated in gag-happy commentary.

Every now and again, though, "Tank," which turned 35 in August, will flex the muscle memory of an ex-heavyweight, such as its satiric take on the NFL's handling of Michael Vick's reinstatement. The satire might have missed the mark for some -- at least two newspapers, including The Post, pulled the Vick strips -- but when a strip hits an age at which many real-life athletes retire, just the sensation of feeling still virile and "dangerous" can make you feel young again. As if you're the Brett Favre of the funnies, and the gray whiskers only make you that much more colorful.

So what do you think of "Tank McNamara," 'Riffs readers?
If you find it too out-of-shape, over-the-hill or verbose, feel free to Impugn-That-Toon. But if you're a fan, now's the time to Defend. That. Toon.


'TANK MCNAMARA' (UPS) TANK McNAMARA Enlarge Image

By Michael Cavna  | October 12, 2009; 10:45 AM ET
Categories:  Defend That 'Toon  
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Comments

I've tried to defend each strip you propose, but I can't do it this time.

I used to love Tank, but I don't have the half-hour it takes to read through the whole strip anymore.

Pick up In The Bleachers or Cleats if you need a sports strip.

Posted by: filfeit | October 12, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, I cannot defend this toon. 'Tank McNamara' has never resonated with me.

Posted by: elyrest | October 12, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I like the idea of Tank more than the execution. It can be funny, usually more clever, but it is sooo darn dense. Chop the language down by 50% and maybe.

Posted by: greasypores | October 12, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't know who you will get to defend this strip. Sports people find this strip trite and non-sports people have no idea what the point of it all is.

Time to head for the shower, Tank.

Posted by: kcghost | October 12, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Agree with filfeit and greasypores--Back in the day sweet, naive, fumbling-mumbling Tank used to be hilarious, but now the satire is lost in thickets of verbiage and esoterica (with most references apparently appreciated only by hard core sports addicts). Simplicity works best for comics, including lovable Tank; leave the essays to articles and I will resume being a reader.

Posted by: GLomzx | October 12, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Tank has lost a lot of its lovableness and is a little too talky and a little too current events and doesn't vatch the irony of the sports world as much as it used to. While not as brilliant as its early days it is better than much of the dross cluttering the comic pages. Certaionly if something goes it ought to be junk like Agnes, Culde Sac or Watch Your Head, three of the most unreadable, unenjoyable strips inflicted on us in recent years.

Posted by: glientz | October 12, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I too enjoyed Tank in the old days when the ex-jock was a man of few words, and most of those were mumbled malapropisms or other on-air flubs. Nowadays you could read most of the sports columns in the time it takes to read this strip. Move it to the sports section (as you used to have "Dilbert" in the business section, back when you still had one) or drop it altogether, and use the freed-up space on the comics page to bring back "Frazz" from its inappropriate exile in Kids' Post.

Posted by: seismic-2 | October 12, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Bye Tank...you won't be missed - by me!

Posted by: budpytko | October 12, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Tank has evolved over the years. It's more challenging to follow, but I think the challenge is worthwhile. Keep it!

Posted by: patriggs1 | October 12, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Keep tank. It provides some insight for people who like sports with being addicted. The main problem is with the shrinkage of the panel, not the "wordiness." If you don't like dense, stick with Mutts, Garfield, Family Circus, or Blondie.

Posted by: olddog1 | October 12, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

The strip reads more like a blog. I like sports in general, but not this. Dump ole Tank, its time he retired anyway.

Posted by: 2old2readcomics | October 13, 2009 2:36 AM | Report abuse

I really like Tank. It's the first comic I read every morning. a satiric take on sports, something that makes you laugh and think at the same time, is to be welcomed. There is so much dumbing down these days that this strip really stands out.

Posted by: hertsred | October 13, 2009 4:57 AM | Report abuse

Tank is great. The Post's mini-sized version of it isn't. I read it every day on the web and it's as sharp as ever, but in the print version it's like trying to read the Gettysburg Address on a postage stamp.

But the blame for this lies 100% with the Post, not with Tank. You've made it impossible for virtually any strip with more than three words a panel to function in the print edition, and then you blame the cartoonist. Nice self-perpetuating cycle you've set in motion there.

Posted by: andym108 | October 13, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I read Cleats and In the Bleachers, so it not that I don't like sports But: Tank is to insider oriented, as someone else said. Don;t mind the wordy, just don't "get" alot of it, SO...delete it.

Posted by: ZeldaJane | October 13, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I've enjoyed Tank over the years, and found it to be a relatively well drawn cartoon, as well as being both interesting and humorous. And, at times, intelligently insightful.

That said, I agree with two previous posted views

First: "Tank has evolved over the years. It's more challenging to follow, but I think the challenge is worthwhile. Keep it!"
Hard to find fault with that. Better to have a strip that makes you think or laugh intelligently than many of the much newer strips that appeal to a certain age group (regardless of the age).

Second that I agree with: "The main problem is with the shrinkage of the panel, not the "wordiness..." "Tank is great. The Post's mini-sized version of it isn't. I read it every day on the web and it's as sharp as ever, but in the print version it's like trying to read the Gettysburg Address on a postage stamp. But the blame for this lies 100% with the Post, not with Tank. You've made it impossible for virtually any strip with more than three words a panel to function in the print edition, and then you blame the cartoonist."

My problem with the small size of the strip, the reduced size, is I understand the reasoning for reducing the size of the strip; I understand the costs involved in printing the paper, etc. I thought the same thing about the brilliantly drawn Pogo strip when strip size was reduced while Pogo was still being drawn/published. At a certain point the line drawings can't get smaller and it defeats otherwise very intelligently drawn, and very well drawn strips or panels.

dungarees@gmail.com

Posted by: Dungarees | October 13, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Ugh, time to dump Tank. His time has come and gone. Too dated, too wordy, too inside, too boring.

Posted by: StaffyOwner | October 13, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I like Tank. I like that he includes current events. He has an interesting take on the sports world. A rare and valuable quality with today's ESPN echo chamber. Please keep him.
I often find Cleats trite and suburban. In The Bleachers is good, but it's only one panel and usually a pun.

Posted by: Bulldeazy | October 13, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Is it appropriate to comment on a 'toon I never read? I am not a sports fan, so whatever the strip is about is totally lost on me.

Posted by: RAB2 | October 13, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

I love these comments about how Tank is "too inside." What this really means is that "If I don't understand it, I don't want anyone who does to be able to enjoy it." If paying attention to that sort of a comment is what the Post is committed to do, then its dumbing down mission is explicit. Let's just fill the page with idiotic "all puns, all the time" strips like Speed Bump and Mother Goose and Grimm. Heaven help that anyone should have to bring some actual knowledge to a strip in order to enjoy it!

Posted by: andym108 | October 14, 2009 6:43 AM | Report abuse

I read the Post's comics online. There are a gazillion "baby" strips and only a couple of sports strips - and don't even get me started on the strips that never publish a new comic (Why DO you keep them, anyway?). Yes, you have to be a sports fan to enjoy Tank, but I'll take the "new" Tank over the Tank whose only gag was to dive on anything that resembled a fumble, anytime.

Posted by: tedsini | October 14, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Keep Tank. I don't think you have to be a "sports guy" to like the strip. I don't actively follow sports and I read the sports pages only occasionally. But I do read Tank and use it to talk sports with the boyfriend by either saying, "hey, I saw this but didn't get it, what's going on in [x]?" and letting him expound on it, or if it looks real interesting, I'll look up the references and then bring it up. I need Tank!

Posted by: IndolentCin | October 14, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Keep Tank! If there's a problem with the strip, it's that it doesn't run with the regular comics, so doesn't get as wide a readership as it might otherwise. Tank's maturing into a sports commentator rather than jock-caster is a welcome development, and there are few (any?) strips that take on the megolomania of sports enterprises, from the leagues to the networks. If Tank can't run in the comics, it should run as a sports editorial cartoon, similar to the way many newspapers run Doonesbury. Put him on Page 2 of Sports!! Go Tank!

Posted by: rkinneypa | October 14, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

As long as I can still read it on line, I don't care. I stopped reading the comics in the paper edition after you dropped Zippy.

Posted by: kba829 | October 15, 2009 8:09 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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