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Trudeau interviewed about his work on Doonesbury

The Greensburo News & Record ran an interview with Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. Subjects cover changes in his political leanings, deadlines, cartooning in today’s climate, a post-media plan for Doonesbury, and how he keeps all his characters and their personalities straight.

Q. You work under a tighter deadline than most cartoonists, yet you still have to write your strips roughly two weeks (dailies) and six weeks (Sundays) in advance for newspapers. In this age of immediate information, that can seem like an eternity. How do you keep your strip feeling current? Do you ever get blindsided by breaking news? Conversely, has breaking news ever made you seem prescient?

A. The reason I now work on such a short lead is largely due to Watergate. Events broke in such a pell-mell, unexpected fashion during the unfurling scandal, it was hard to get out ahead. Ehrlichman’s resignation so took us by surprise, I had to recall a whole week (he later wrote to apologize). So the deadline kept getting whittled away, from six weeks down to one, and there it stayed. Having said that, it’s a bit of a myth that the strip traffics in breaking headlines; it just seems topical because I make fairly good educated guesses about what I think people will still be thinking about two weeks hence. That’s when I do it at all. Most of the story lines aren’t that time-sensitive, in fact, could appear a year later (and do, as reruns).

It’s true sometimes the strip appears prescient to people, but that’s usually blind luck. If you write topical material every day, on occasion you’re bound to surge ahead of the curve.

Community Comments

#1 Donna Barstow
October/7/2009
@ 1:57 am

Garry is amazing in both his work and his schedule, but when he wrote about Rick Redfern discovering a blog last year…4 years after they touched down?…- maybe not so current.

#2 Cam Millward
October/8/2009
@ 1:28 pm

Donna I have to disagree with you regarding Mr. Trudeau’s schedule. In 12 years of paginating comic pages for Newspapers I can count on a single hand how many times his work has been on time. For instance yesterday, we had 12 papers waiting for him to post his work as of 5 p.m. on e.s.t. Each week I have to call Universal Press regarding when we could expect his strips. Why is he allowed to be late every week?, when all other artist have a deadline of the Friday 10 days before publication. Get over Watergate it happened in 1972.!!

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