A cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Wildcat - a student newspaper that serves the UA - was fired Wednesday after authoring a comic strip that caused anger among readers who called it homophobic.

The comic strip, authored by D.C. Parsons, was published Tuesday.

It depicts a father telling his young son that if he ever tells him he's gay, that he will shoot him with a shotgun, roll him up in a carpet and throw him off a bridge.

The boy replies: "Well I guess that's what you call a 'Fruit Roll Up.'"

The son and father then laugh it off.

The Wildcat received complaints from readers, and nearly 4,000 people as of Thursday afternoon signed an online petition at www.change.org calling for the firing of the cartoonist, editor-in-chief and copy editor.

Editor-in-chief Kristina Bui apologized for the comic Thursday in a "Letter from the editor," calling its publication a "serious error in judgment."

In an email interview, Bui explained that the cartoon strip "got through for publication through my own carelessness."

"Unlike the rest of the paper, the comics page hasn't had a proper editorial procedure in the last couple of years, as far as I know, and the only person who looked at that page as deadline approached was me for just a minute or so."

Bui said the "Wildcat's executive board of student editors has already spelled out a new policy for reviewing the comics page. There will be at least three sets of eyes on the page and no more waiting until the last minute to do them."

Bui said she will not resign from the newspaper, which is "an environment for learning and growing."

"The Wildcat has faced similar controversies to this one in the past, and we learn from every mistake. I made a mistake. I am learning from it."

The Wildcat also carried an apology in "Your views" from Parsons, the cartoonist. He said the strip "was based on an experience from my childhood. My father is a devout conservative from a previous generation, and I believe he was simply distraught from the fact that I had learned (from 'The Simpsons') what homosexuality was at such a young age."

Mark Woodhams, director of student media, said "the students are entirely responsible for the content of the paper, and there is no prior review."

He said Bui was "taking responsibility and has done a good job of stepping up to the plate, recognizing the problem and apologizing for it."

In response to the online petition calling for Bui's resignation, Woodhams said he had no comment, and added that Bui "has my full confidence as editor in chief."

Contact reporter Carmen Duarte at 573-4104 or cduarte@azstarnet.com