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Old "Sally Forth' to return, creator says

Published Nov. 19, 1991|Updated Oct. 14, 2005

The readers of the comic strip "Sally Forth" have spoken. And Greg Howard, the strip's creator, has listened. A week ago "Sally Forth" showed up in more than 350 daily newspapers with a new look: Gone was Howard's simple, scrawling art and in its place was the more skilled, sophisticated work of Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial cartoonist Craig MacIntosh.

Howard, who will continue to write "Sally Forth" in his Minneapolis home as he has done for the past 10 years, had thought the change would be welcomed by readers.

"I did it for two reasons. One has to do with my own relative lack of artistic talent and the desire to raise the level of art on the strip to a new plane," he said. "The other is that it would give me more time to write the strip."

But the readers of the strip have been bombarding newspapers around the country with complaints. More than 200 called the Star Tribune to oppose the change, according to reader's representative Lou Gelfand.

So what does Howard do about his strip, which centers on Sally and her husband, Ted, a politically correct middle-class couple who both work outside the home, and their smart-aleck daughter, Hilary?

The politically correct thing. He and MacIntosh are going back to Howard's old style, starting with the strip scheduled for Dec. 2. Even though Howard will not draw the strip, it is supposed to look as if he did.

"Because of the huge response to the change, we are going to return to the old style. Craig and I are speeding up our preparations and we will go back on Dec. 2," Howard said.

Howard considered weathering the storm, but said the public reaction was just too great as readers deluged newspapers and the newspapers deluged King Features, the syndicate that distributes "Sally Forth."

Howard absolved MacIntosh of any responsibility for the controversy.

"He did everything I asked of him. That was to improve the art _ that was the mission I gave him. But apparently it was way too abrupt a change for the readers to accept, and we have to backpedal a bit.

"It was my idea to do this, and I was wrong," Howard said.

Howard had given MacIntosh a fairly free rein in drawing the strip, asking only that the faces of the characters remain the same. One result is that Sally and her family might be able to leave home and office for fun places like the zoo and fast-food restaurants.

Howard said he doesn't have the skill to draw such scene shifts, but MacIntosh does. MacIntosh, who labeled himself "a hired brush," said he recognized the problems inherent in the change.

"Change is scary to people and I know people feel real proprietary about their comic strips," he said.

Readers of the weekday comics still will have a few chances to see what might have been. MacIntosh's style will continue through Nov. 30 and will appear a couple of Sundays beginning Dec. 1.

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