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Sherman's Lagoon will replace Non Sequitur in the Tampa Bay Times comics pages after reader vote

Sherman's Lagoon is a 7-day a week comic strip that is the brainchild of Annapolis-based artist Jim Toomey. He has been drawing the inhabitants of a fictional lagoon for more than 20 years.
Published Mar. 25

Want even more evidence that people care about comics?

Nearly 10,000 readers completed our survey to help find a replacement for Non Sequitur. That's more than the number of people who cast ballots for the runner-up in the Tampa mayoral election.

And the big winner of our comics survey is … Sherman's Lagoon with 42 percent of the vote.

Rubes came in second with 28 percent. Candorville finished a distant third at 13 percent. And Nancy landed in last place.

Poor Nancy. Our temporary Non Sequitur replacement actually trailed the category "No Favorite/Can't Decide" which earned 841 votes, slightly more than 8 percent of the total. Nancy got 803 votes.

And so the people have spoken.

Sherman's Lagoon, which we have featured for the past three years in the Sunday paper, will begin running seven days a week starting March 31 — permanently replacing Non Sequitur.

If you're just joining us, yes, we dropped the popular strip after creator/artist Wiley Miller tucked the words "Go F--- yourself Trump" into one of his drawings. The fallout has been painful for Miller, who has now twice publicly apologized after scores of newspapers across the country canceled his daily comic strip.

Miller claimed that in a fit of disgust he inserted the vulgar language weeks beforehand and just forgot to erase it when he submitted the finished comic strip to his editors.

I don't buy that explanation, especially since Miller tweeted to his followers before the avalanche of criticism that he had left an "Easter egg" for them to find. He sounded pretty proud of himself until the cancellation notices began piling up.

The decision to drop the comic may have been unfortunate to Non Sequitur's many fans. But it was not a complicated one from our vantage point. Miller's actions sealed his own fate. We wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior and poor judgment from our staff. And we weren't about to tolerate it from a paid contributor.

I've responded to many of our readers who have written to me. Our decision wasn't about politics, though many readers have wanted to make it into that. And it wasn't about press freedom or censorship. Instead it came down to what the artist did. Plain and simple.

When we first announced that Non Sequitur would no longer appear in the Tampa Bay Times, I asked readers for recommendations on how to replace the strip.

I logged more than 50 different comics from hundreds of readers who had an opinion. We narrowed the list to the four finalists and published a week's worth of their material. Readers could vote online or clip the ballot from the newspaper, circle their favorite comic and mail it in.

It's not hard to see why Sherman's Lagoon prevailed. It's an endearing, topical comic that focuses on the inhabitants of an imaginary lagoon. Creator Jim Toomey has been writing and drawing his sea creatures from his Annapolis studio for more than 20 years. The strip appears in more than 250 newspapers across the country, according to Toomey's website.

We have more good news if you were one of the thousands of voters who supported Rubes. The strip did so well in our survey that we're going to find a spot for it, too. It will appear seven days a week at the end of this month, replacing Herman, whose creator died seven years ago.

Thanks for all the feedback. We were happy to let you decide the winner.

Contact the Times' executive editor at mkatches@tampabay.com

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