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Editorial Comic on ‘Nightmare’ NY Times Experience: ‘Like Being Edited by Hobbits’

”Their nitpicking, antiquated style of editing got more oppressive until they were killing entire strips,“ Michael Kupperman writes

As the focus on satirical media has sharpened in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, a former New York Times editorial comic wrote a scathing piece criticizing the paper of record for its “antiquated style.”

“Their nitpicking, antiquated style of editing got more oppressive until they were killing entire strips,” former Times editorial comic Michael Kupperman wrote Sunday.

“And it’s quite clear they were refusing to print them because they didn’t understand them. It was like being edited by hobbits,” he went on to write.

Kupperman and David Rees were picked as a duo to write and draw comic strips for the Times’ “Week in Review” section a year ago, but according to Kupperman, the paper delayed their work for months and stifled them once they started.

“The first few went through fairly smoothly; David pays close attention to the news, and the art director mentioned approvingly that she was glad he was tackling issues that the paper wasn’t covering otherwise. The one thing that bothered me was: we would present the script, the editors would make corrections, I’d create a finish,” explained Kupperman.

“Then, after I’d handed it in, I’d get back a complete different set of corrections, mostly concerned with their antiquated style guide. The Times puts periods in “IRS,” for instance, even though the IRS themselves do not. They also changed the wording of Donald Rumsfeld’s letter to the IRS when we quoted it directly; that seemed wrong to me. And that they couldn’t do all the corrections at once, before I’d done the work, felt to me like laziness and a lack of coordination which ended with me doing unnecessary work at the last minute,” he said.

Kupperman went from being bothered to feeling disbelief after an Easter piece made a point that people should substitute buying floral bouquet’s with donating to the homeless.


According to Kupperman, his editors “hated it.”

“The editor is asking ‘why are we making fun of religion?’ came the reply. I couldn’t believe this, and still can’t; it’s the response of someone who can’t read,” he wrote. “David was doing the opposite of making fun of religion; he was in fact underlining one of its central tenets, the concept of charity. He felt really strongly about it, and even managed to talk with one fo the editors to make his case. But no amount of arguing would dissuade them. We had to come up with another strip in a hurry.”

The New York Times has not yet responded to TheWrap‘s request for comment.