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The Phoenix accused of killing comic strip ‘Failure’ to please advertiser

Did The Phoenix can a long-running comic strip because it offended a big-bucks advertiser? Absolutely not, says Carly Carioli, the alternative weekly's editor in chief. But Karl Stevens, illustrator/author of "Failure," thinks the strip's sudden demise is indeed linked to a diss he made last week of Bud Light, which advertises in the Phoenix. Stevens, who's done the strip since 2005, said his boss at the Phoenix, art director Kristen Goodfriend, told him Tuesday that the comic was being killed, and specifically mentioned the strip slamming Bud Light. (The beer was likened to horse urine.) "She said they had a problem with that," he said, referring to the paper's editors. Stevens said there have been concerns about the strip's "general raunchiness," but he was never told what to write. ("Failure" follows a group of 20-somethings living in Allston.) "I can't say I'm really surprised, I guess, because it was always on the verge," said Stevens. "But I feel hurt because I was so blindsided." Contacted Wednesday, Carioli said any suggestion that the strip was killed to appease an advertiser is nonsense. "It is categorically false that Karl's strip was discontinued due to any outside objections. As the Phoenix's editor in chief, it was my sole decision to discontinue 'Failure,' " Carioli wrote in an e-mail. "There were no sponsor objections — zero — to this strip or any other that I'm aware of." The final "Failure" appears in this week's Phoenix.