There was a time when I read “Doonesbury” every day. I looked forward to the adventures of Mike, Zonker, BD, Joanie, Rick, Duke, Honey, and all the rest, as well as the satire that flowed out of Garry Trudeau’s pen. We have several of the books, including “The Doonesbury Chronicles,” a 1975 compilation of strips.
Somewhere along the way, however, I didn’t see the strip anymore. Notice I didn’t say “read,” but “see.” When we lived in DC, “Doonesbury” was on page 3 of the must-read Style section of the Washington Post, so I never missed it. But the St. Louis Post-Dispatch puts Doonesbury in with the rest of the comics, none of which I was ever a fan of, so I don’t bother digging for it. Now, we don’t even get the P-D at home, so there’s even less impetus to see what Trudeau’s up to each day.
It’s been so long since I thought about “Doonesbury” that it didn’t even occur to me to see if the strip is online. Of course, it is, and a glance shows it hasn’t lost any of its political edge and Trudeau’s writing and drawing are as sharp as ever. I just bookmarked it and will see how long it holds my interest over the coming weeks.
Perhaps I’ll also take a look at a new collection called “40: A Doonesbury Retrospective,” compiled by the same people who did “The Complete Far Side” and “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes.”
There’s also an interview with Trudeau, in which David Plotz asks him what was the most memorable or egregious attack on Doonesbury, considering how the strip has, at various times, been censored, criticized, shrunk, or moved around the newspaper. Trudeau’s answer:
Years ago, I did a series on Joanie Caucus bedding her then-boyfriend Rick Redfern. The week starts with a drawing of Joanie’s empty bedroom. It’s followed by a three-day, dialogue-free tracking shot that takes us out the bedroom window, across town, and into the window of Rick’s bedroom, where Joanie and Rick are intertwined in post-coital bliss. This was too much for many comics editors, and many papers, reluctant to run the foreplay without a payoff, banned the whole week. But the Bangor newspaper had the most unusual solution; in the last frame, instead of the scandalous tableau of Rick and Joanie, the paper ran the day’s weather forecast.
Update 12:06pm…Austin Tichenor of the Reduced Shakespeare Company informs me that you can get “Doonesbury” (and many other comics) delivered daily free via e-mail from GoComics.com. Sounds easier than having to actively click on the strip site regularly.