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The syndicated comic strip “Non Sequitur,” created by former Sonoma County cartoonist David Wiley Miller, contained a hidden message with profanity directed at President Donald Trump on Sunday, igniting a national controversy.

The cartoon by Miller, who draws his strip under the name Wiley and worked as a cartoonist and illustrator for The Press Democrat from 1978 to 1981, ran in Sunday’s edition of The Press Democrat.

It contained the phrase “Go f--- yourself Trump” in small, barely legible script in the second panel.

Press Democrat Executive Editor Catherine Barnett said the paper never would have run the strip if it had known it contained the vulgar language.

“Wiley was once a trusted colleague in The Press Democrat newsroom. Above all, this represents a breach of that trust,” she said in a statement.

“Despite our longstanding relationship, we are deeply troubled and are evaluating our options to ensure this never happens again.”

The strip, which runs in more than 700 papers nationwide, was dropped by at least 12 newspapers Monday, including the Dallas Morning News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The cartoon’s distributor, Andrews McMeel Syndication, did not respond to requests for comment Monday. In a statement, Andrews McMeel said it did not know the vulgar language was in the strip and apologized to newspapers and readers for allowing it to slip past its editors.

Miller said in a statement that he had written the cartoon eight weeks ago while he was “particularly aggravated that day about something the president had done or said, and so I lashed out in a rather sophomoric manner as instant therapy.”

He meant to remove the message before the cartoon was submitted, but forgot to do so, he said.

“Had I intended to make a statement to be understood by the readers, I would have done so in a more subtle, sophisticated manner,” Miller said in the statement.

But on Sunday, before the controversy kicked into high gear, Miller exhorted his Twitter followers to find a hidden “Easter Egg” in the cartoon.

Previously the same day, he had tweeted profanity about President Trump, referring to him as “President F---wit.”

In an email to The Press Democrat, Miller declined to comment beyond his prepared statement.

“Thanks, but there really isn’t anything to add to what I’ve already stated. It was just venting and not meant to be read,” he said.

He did not respond to a follow-up email asking what the “Easter Egg” hidden in the strip was.

The Press Democrat received no complaints from subscribers about the vulgarity on Sunday or Monday, but news of its inclusion in the funny pages quickly triggered a new front in the culture wars that have divided the country. Trump supporters cheered newspapers that banned the strip Monday, while Trump critics applauded Miller for sneaking a coarse insult into the Sunday comics.

Miller lived in Sonoma County from 1978 to 1992. In 2013 he was awarded the prestigious Reuben Award for Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year from the National Cartoonists Society.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. In 2010, a strip by Miller mocking the Islamic practice of forbidding drawings of the Prophet Muhammad was pulled from multiple newspapers, including the Washington Post, though the Post did run the strip online.

Closer to home, Miller angered Press Democrat readers in 1999 when he was quoted in the paper suggesting that “Peanuts” cartoonist Charles Schulz should retire following Schulz’s diagnosis with colon cancer.

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