Mr. Fitz Ends (or maybe it’s just a sabbatical) The Daily Cartoonist

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Mr. Fitz Ends (or maybe it’s just a sabbatical)

Yesterday was 22 years since a comic strip debuted, tomorrow will be its last day.

Mr. Fit by David Lee Finkle began his teaching (and comic strip) career on March 28, 2000.

Mr. Fitz was teaching at Bulwer-Lytton Middle School,
David Lee Finkle was comic striping at The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

According to David:

After moving to Southwestern Middle School in DeLand in 1999, I began to actually develop my sketches into a comic strip called Mr. Fitz (from my mom’s maiden name, FitzGerald). I offered it to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, who initially said they had no space for it, and that it wasn’t all that funny. But in March of 2000, the same week I had my first novel, Making Escape accepted for publication, the News-Journal called to tell at school, during my cartooning club no less, to tell me that another comic strip, Eek and Meek was ending its run in newspapers, thus creating a space for mine. They asked if I could start the following week.

I said yes, and Mr. Fitz started its newspaper run.

The strip ran in The News-Journal for 18 years, ending March 31, 2018.

And with that Mr. Fitz ended his print run and became a webcomic … temporarily.

It hadn’t been all fun and grades.

Being a full time teacher and a full time (six days a week) cartoonist for 18 years had left precious little time for an actual life.

At one point Mr. Finkle the teacher went into a depressed state mostly due to the standardized testing and educational reforms forced on him and his fellow teachers.

David wrote it into a weeks long Mr. Fitz arc as a sort of therapy.

When David called an end to The News-Journal run Mr. Fitz became a three-times-a-week webcomic which quickly found a print home in The West Volusia Beacon. Now five years after that switch David has decided to bring the strip to an end.

In a parting from the strip written for his fans David says:

Sometime late today or early tomorrow I will post the final Mr. Fit comic strip online. It will appear in my local newspaper next weekend. I will post it with sadness, but also with relief. I am tired…

In the end, I knew my gut would tell me it was time to let this particular dream go… at least for now. There are other writing and art projects I want to pursue. Maybe nothing will come of them, but teaching and drawing the comic strip have left me no time to complete these other projects and find out where they might lead. I decide may in a few months that I can’t live without the comic strip and I need to start drawing again. But I need some time off to see how I feel about it.

Read David’s full farewell column here.

The March 23, 2022 edition of The Beacon ran the penultimate trio of strips stacked:



The March 30 Beacon runs the final strip drawn as a Sunday page:

I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t notice the tribute of that last Mr. Fitz until Mr. Finkle informed me.

As for the future?

When The Daily Cartoonist asked David if he could walk away from the drawing board he replied…

As to what comes next – a bit of a break from cartooning, but not really a break. I have a full-length play to get out into the world, a novel I’m revising to be half-graphic novel, and a novel about teaching that’s a bit darker than the strip. I also do theater, and am no in rehearsals for You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. I’m playing Linus! As to when the strip comes back with some original material, I’ve left the door open… And, of course, I’m still teaching full time. New strips may appear on my blog, or one of the blogs I contribute to… but I need a break. I want to take at least a few months off and be free of deadlines for a while before I start it back up. I have 9 years worth of reruns to post to my website that haven’t been seen by most readers (2004 to 2013), so that should keep readers happy for a while!

Those reruns are at the Mr. Fitz website where all the above strips and much more can be read.

Mr. Fitz is © David Lee Finkle; Calvin and Hobbes is © Bill Watterson

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