Cartoonist Doug Marlette, who gave us “Kudzu,” has been killed in an automobile accident:

RALEIGH, N.C.–Doug Marlette, the North Carolina-born cartoonist who won a Pulitzer Prize and created the popular strip “Kudzu,” was killed in a car accident Tuesday morning in Mississippi, authorities said. He was 57.

Marlette, who joined the Tulsa (Okla.) World last year, was the passenger in the car, which struck a tree after skidding on a rain-slicked road, said John Garrison, the coroner in Mississippi’s Marshall County.

“Evidently, it hydroplaned, left the highway and struck the tree,” Garrison said.

When I lived in North Carolina, I read “Kudzu” every day. It’s set in the town of Bypass, N.C. (not far from Bump, the little place I served in for sixteen months in 1988-89). One of my favorite characters in all of comic stripdom is the Rev. Will B. Dunn, pastor of the Bypass Baptist Church, TV preacher and Kudzu’s spiritual adviser (Kudzu, though named for a vine, is not a plant, but a teenager who longs to get out of town and see the world). Those who know the strip will probably see a certain resemblance between Rev. Dunn and me:

He’ll be missed. Doug, I mean.

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