Saturday, September 25, 2010

Doonesbury at 40

Like ice cream flavors, superstar newspaper comics strips have their day. Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, Garfield — they all highlighted refrigerator doors and office cubicles. Doonesbury was like that.

At one Cartoon Festival at Ohio State University in the early 1980s, a professional cartoonist in the audience asked a panelist who represented G.B. Trudeau’s syndicate why the Doonesbury artist was allowed to have a shorter lead time. He must, the questioner insisted despite repeated denials — how else could he be so timely?

And while it might be the political jibes many longtime readers recall, the human touches were what made the strip not only better than most, but a story we looked for each day.

You can’t deny what got you wasn’t as much seeing D.B.’s missing limb, lost in the Iraq war, but the character, for the first time, without a helmet.
Or when Lacey died, just fading out of the frame.

Moreover, when he wasn’t telling truth to power, Trudeau was very, very funny. Often, he still is.

Now comes 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. In the tradition of those enormous Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes anthologies, the very funny Doonesbury has its day again.

Release date will be Oct. 26. The book will weigh in with 1,800 strips and 18 essays by Trudeau.

You can read an excerpt in The Atlantic here.

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