'Tank McNamara' comic strip writer Jeff Millar dies at 70
BY Wire Reports
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
12/11/12 at 5:49 AM
Jeff Millar, the wordsmith behind the long-running comic strip "Tank McNamara," which evolved into a biting satire of the sports world, died Nov. 30. He was 70.
The Texas native, who also was a longtime film critic and columnist for the Houston Chronicle, died at his Houston-area home after an almost four-year battle with bile-duct cancer, said his wife, Peg Millar.
The daily, syndicated comic strip - with a hefty-jawed protagonist who matured from a bumbling ex-NFL player into a reflective television sportscaster - runs in about 150 newspapers.
Bill Hinds, who draws the strip and took over the writing a couple of months ago, said Millar asked him to collaborate on the project from the start. Millar wanted to do something "satirical and sardonic" like "Doonesbury," Hinds recalled, but with a focus on sports. The drama of sports - and how seriously Americans take them - always amused Millar.
"Jeff's perspective was outside of sports looking in," Hinds said. "When you're inside, you can't see how crazy it is."
Millar wasn't afraid to tackle the less-than-perfect realities of sports. Short-tempered coaches, players with DUI charges and sexual misconduct scandals were frequent topics of the strip.
In 2009, The Washington Post deemed six strips, which satirized the NFL's handling of a star quarterback embroiled in an illegal dogfighting scandal, as "inappropriate" and refused to run them. One showed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking former Vice President Dick Cheney for advice on how the league should respond to Michael Vick's actions. Cheney's suggestion, in the comic: "Kill him."
The strip also gained popularity by engaging with its followers. Each year, readers sent in submissions to help pick Tank McNamara's "Sports Jerk of the Year." Two big-name winners of the less-than-flattering award: NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens and Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig.
Astronomer, broadcaster Patrick Moore dies at 89
British astronomer and broadcaster Patrick Moore died Sunday in Selsey in southern England. He was 89.
Moore was well known for his long-running BBC television show "The Sky at Night," which was credited for popularizing astronomy with generations of Britons. He had presented the show for more than half a century.
"Over the past few years, Patrick, an inspiration to generations of astronomers, fought his way back from many serious spells of illness and continued to work and write at a great rate, but this time his body was too weak to overcome the infection which set in a few weeks ago," said a statement signed by various staff members and friends, including Queen guitarist Brian May.
May said Moore was irreplaceable and had stirred millions through his broadcasts.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Moore believed he was the only person to have met the first man to fly, Orville Wright, as well as the first man in space, Russian Yuri Gagarin, and the first man on the moon, the late Neil Armstrong.
Moore, who received a knighthood in 2001, had recently celebrated the 55th anniversary of his program. He missed only one episode, because of an illness caused by food poisoning. He was known for his trademark monocle and his occasional xylophone performances and his frequently professed love of cats.
He wrote dozens of books using a 1908 typewriter he received as a gift when he was 8.
Moore had long expressed an interest in traveling into space but said he wasn't medically fit to do so - he said he was so large that a special rocket would be needed.