"I'm concerned about one of the comics in today's paper, '9 Chickweed Lane,' and the depiction of a male lying between a woman's legs. They were both dressed, but I think it's inappropriate for a comic strip that children could be reading."
"The '9 Chickweed Lane' strip today is porn!! What's up with your standards that you allow visual sexual situations on the Comics page? My granddaughter reads this section, and it is unsuitable today."
"I don't consider myself a prude, but I think this cartoon is very inappropriate for a family newspaper. I'm quite surprised. I've never felt compelled to call about a cartoon in The Times."
... So went a handful of calls and emails this week regarding the story line in "9 Chickweed Lane.
The story continued from last week, when the bespectacled Amos clambered onto the stage at the finale of dancer Edda's performance. He sprawled across her in Saturday's strip, and asked, "Is this a bad time?" The story picked up Monday, with the two, as one reader complained, "in the missionary position."
Assistant Managing Editor Alice Short, who oversees the features sections including the Comics page, said she didn't think the strip meant to be racy.
"I'm not sure how this current story line will end, but it started a couple of weeks ago," Short said. "It's pretty clear that the musician wants to propose to the ballerina. I see it as a story about love, and I don't believe anything untoward was intended."
John Glynn, vice president and editorial director of Universal Uclick, which distributes "9 Chickweed Lane," said the syndicate had received no other complaints.
The Times does not normally remove or replace comic strips based on story line -- though editors did do that in March with a "Doonesbury" series that took on Texas' abortion law. For that week, "Doonesbury" was moved to the Op-Ed page and "Doonesbury" reruns were published on the Comics page.The decision drew more than 100 calls and emails.
Comics may be part of the "funny pages," but they're serious business to readers.
-- Deirdre Edgar
Images, from top: "9 Chickweed Lane" from Sept. 3, Sept. 4 and Sept. 5. Credit: Universal Uclick