There have been, by my reckoning, five significant Doonesbury characters who have died (not counting Duke, who has “died” twice, once when he was mistakenly declared dead after being taken hostage in Iran in 1979, and once when he spent some time as a zombie in the employ of Haitian strongman Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier). … Continue reading "Well, Great. A Massive Coronary": Death and Dying in Doonesbury
On 23 June 2019, Garry Trudeau returned to a topic that has woven its way through Doonesbury since the earliest days of the strip: marijuana. Zonker asks Zipper to sweep out the drying shed at their (now quasi-legal) marijuana grow-op, Z&Z Bud. Zipper resents having to do menial work when he could be focusing on … Continue reading “It Sure Is Against the Law.” Marijuana, Part One: Zonker’s Bust and Box Brown’s Cannabis.
On 7 April 2019 Doonesbury drew attention to an issue that largely goes unmentioned in the media, but is, if we zoom out a little bit, closely related to one of the biggest (non-Trump-related) stories of 2019. The issue is student homelessness, and while it may not be on the public radar, thinking about young … Continue reading This Week in Doonesbury: Student Poverty and a Brief History of Walden House
America’s disengagement from a brutal, unpopular, and ultimately failed war in Vietnam began in 1969 with Richard Nixon’s announcement of his policy of “Vietnamization.” The 1973 Paris Peace Accords marked the end of America’s formal commitment to fighting in Vietnam; the war finally ended on 30 April 1975 with the fall of Saigon to North … Continue reading Vietnam, the Aftermath. Part IV: “Explain My Wound to Me.”
Last year, I decided to re-read the complete run of Doonesbury and write about the strip in order to better understand both Trudeau’s work and its times and to start learning about the language and aesthetics of comics more generally. A year later, I’m about halfway through the strips (I just finished 1997), but I’m … Continue reading Selling Reagan to Black Voters: Doonesbury in the 1980s
In my last “Long Strange Trip” post, I looked at how Garry Trudeau wrote about Black radicalism in the early 1970s, focusing on the character of Calvin and Trudeau's depiction of the 1971 New Haven trial of nine members of the Black Panther Party for the murder of a suspected FBI informant. When Trudeau wrote … Continue reading “Welcome, You Dumb Honky.” Race in the Early Doonesbury Strips, Part II: Rufus
My last three “Long Strange Trip” posts have looked at how Doonesbury treated the Vietnam War during the first few years of its run, starting with B.D’s experience in ROTC through his decision to enlist and his encounter with Phred the Vietcong terrorist. Though B.D. was sent home as part of Richard Nixon’s policy of … Continue reading He’s Black, He’s Beautiful, and by Gosh, He’s Angry: Race in the Early Doonesbury Strips, Part I.