Doonesbury at 50, part 2

Was a bit shocked at the lack of articles noting the 50th anniversary of Doonesbury.
Surprisingly Ultimate Classic Rock featured one of the two to appear. Unfortunately they pretty much credit Doonesbury with introducing politics to the daily comics pages. That aside the article does look at the reasons for Doonesbury’s success:

Traditionally, comic strips appeared on the funny pages and generally contented themselves with telling light, homey stories about Americans. Doonesbury attacked that by exploring its characters’ political ideas and by portraying national political figures in its panels (or at least having them speak off-panel). The formula proved to be immediately successful, and, by 1975, Trudeau had created a forum for discussing national political and social issues so powerful that he became the first comic-strip artist to win a Pulitzer Prize.

In retrospect, the secrets of the strip’s popularity seem clear. The first is an acerbic take on politics and life. Trudeau has famously depicted presidents and political candidates using images that typify his view of them: George W. Bush appeared as an invisible man under a big cowboy hat, Bill Clinton was represented by a waffle and Arnold Schwarzenegger was drawn as a glove and nicknamed “Herr Gropenfuhrer,” a reference to the history of sexual-assault allegations against him.

Doonesbury also spreads its critique across the political spectrum. While the strip certainly leans liberal, it’s more deeply rooted in a ’60s-style cynicism about power, no matter who’s wielding it.

Read Doonesbury Adds Political Satire To Daily Comics from UCR.


The other item was The Secret Jewish History of Doonesbury from Forward. With the tagline “Garry Trudeau’s comic strip ‘Doonesbury‘ is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Here’s what’s Jewish about it.

I apologize about no outtakes from the article, Forward only allows one view and I didn’t get any captures my first time around. If I remember correctly it concentrates on Mark Slackmeyer and Kim Rosenthal.


To stretch this out I’ll add the Andrews McMeel Universal press release via the AP.

Considered revolutionary, and certainly groundbreaking, at its introduction, Doonesbury has evolved into a formidable phenomenon. Through an impressive chronicle of a beloved cast of characters engaged in political and cultural shifts concerning world and national events, including nine administrations, and hundreds of triumphs and crises, the venerable comic strip has served as a reliable companion and steady guide navigating these milestones. In a time of such uncertainty, the consistency of Trudeau’s work is welcome; readers can count on his trenchant commentary as American satire at its best.


Two years ago The Washington Post celebrated fifty years of G.B. Trudeau comics as it noted the beginning of Bull Tales in the Yale Record.

It was the summer of 1968, and Garry Trudeau, home after a seasonal job in Washington, had a few days to kill before returning for his junior year at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Sitting on his bed in Saranac Lake, New York, he began to draw. By afternoon’s end, he had created a week of comic strips that would wholly alter the direction of his life.

There, in incipient form, he rendered B.D., a quarterback character named as a nod to Yale football player Brian Dowling. This was a sports strip, according to Trudeau, but B.D. and his teammates did more talking than tackling, with their Vietnam War-era huddle serving less as an arena for marching orders and more as a verbal playground for exchanging ideas.

The next week, Trudeau took his four-panel samples to the Yale Daily News, where Executive Editor Reed Hundt told the aspiring cartoonist: “They’re all right. We publish pretty much anything.”

As on, Sept. 30 — 50 years ago this month — the characters of what would become Doonesbury first saw the light of publication, beginning what Trudeau calls his “life’s project.”

Michael Cavna talks to Trudeau about fifty years of cartooning via The Columbus Dispatch.


Reaching back ten years Slate offered up Doonesbury’s 200 Greatest Moments.
The links seldom work there but GoComics has an easy to use archive.