Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds, the dynamic duo that struck gold with Tank McNamara in 1974, offered a number of other features afterward, sometimes separately, sometimes together. In 1996 the pair came up with Second Chances, a strip about two middle aged divorcees who start a new relationship together. The idea is to explore how romance works between adults, both of whom have experienced the pain of relationships which did not work out, and who want very much to make fewer mistakes in this new relationship. Though Millar and Hinds aren’t slavish to making every strip about remarriage, there is a distinct undercurrent always present about getting to know someone emotionally and behaviorally in middle age. Second marriages (I can speak from experience here) have a whole different feeling than first ones; Millar and Hinds do quite a nice job of exploring that in a really meaningful way while never forgetting that their primary job is to make you chuckle.
The strip is very well-written and drawn, it is insightful and the gags are good. So why didn’t it succeed? I can only assume that editors looked at it as serving a niche market of those who are on their second marriages. If that was their reasoning, I have to reluctantly go along with them. I really don’t think the strip would particularly appeal to kids, unmarried adults, or people on their first marriages.
Second Chances was distributed by Millar and Hinds’ Tank McNamara syndicate, Universal Press, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they did so more out of duty than any real hope that the strip would hit the bigtime. The strip limped along for four years, but never commanded a large client list. It debuted on July 22 1996* and ended on September 10 2000**. When the strip ended, Millar and Hinds promised that Nick and Kate, the main characters, would start to be seen occasionally in Tank McNamara. I don’t know if that ever happened.
No reprint books were offered during the strip’s life (or after), which is too bad. I think the fans would have surprised Universal Press with the level of their support and interest in the feature.
* Cartoonist PROFiles #125
** Editor & Publisher, September 11 2000.