• The Modesty Blaise cartoon which appeared in the West Australian (The West Australian)Source: The West Australian
A character in a comic strip published in Monday's newspaper used a racial slur to describe an Aboriginal character.
Rangi Hirini

30 Jun 2020 - 10:47 AM  UPDATED 30 Jun 2020 - 10:47 AM

A major Western Australian newspaper has apologised after it published a comic strip from a British comic series which used a racial slur for Aboriginal people.

On Monday, the West Australian published a piece from the British comic strip, Modesty Blaise, that used the word "Abo" when talking about an Aboriginal tracker in the storyline.

In a statement published on Monday night, the newspaper said the cartoon had no place in the newspaper. It acknowledged the cartoon "contained offensive racial stereotypes" and described the strip as "the very kind of marginalisation and bigotry The West Australian and its reporters have been trying to stamp out."

“The cartoon was written in 1981 and today’s comics strip page was supplied by an outside agency,” the statement said.

The newspaper said a review is underway. It will not be publishing Modesty Blaise in the meantime.

Former NITV presenter Shelley Ware questioned the decision-making at the newspaper.

“I’m literally devastated this has been printed and our children have access to this,” Ms Ware wrote on Twitter. 

“Honestly wish I was surprised though!!”

A statement from the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA Ltd (ALSWA) said its CEO, Dennis Eggington, was in utter disbelief that the cartoon was still being published, despite its offensive and racist overtones.

“I cannot believe my eyes!  Here you have a cartoon from decades ago that is racist and promotes negatives stereotypes. ALSWA works tirelessly to fight against discrimination and I can assure you that this is not a joke and it is totally unacceptable,” Mr Eggington said in the statement. 

“This is not a case of ‘political correctness gone mad’. This is highly offensive and will not be tolerated by any fair-minded West Australian. Any publicity that this attracts will be for all the wrong reasons and one would have hoped that the current worldwide ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement would have had an impact upon published material in this state," he said. 

Modesty Blaise was created in 1963 and follows a young woman, Modesty Blaise, and her sidekick Willie Garvin.

The comic strip was later turned into films, novels, and short stories.

The West Australian said it has been publishing Modesty Blaise as a cartoon strip for decades.

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