By Garry Trudeau
Created through the group that introduced you The entire some distance Side and The entire Calvin and Hobbes, the large anthology 40 marks Doonesbury's40th anniversary by means of reading intensive the characters that experience given the strip such energy. This moment quantity of the four-volume book variation of 40 covers the years 1980 to 1989 for the prestigious caricature strip.
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Extra info for 40. A Doonesbury Retrospective 1980 to 1989
Most humor strips do just fine with a half-dozen or so players. Calvin and Hobbes had only two essential characters, and one of them was imaginary. By the late ’80s, Doonesbury had almost forty. The clutter became challenging for longtime readers, intimidating for latecomers—like opening a Russian novel in the middle. But the matrix of relationships at the heart of Doonesbury yielded endless narrative possibilities. I didn’t have to find a new twist on old themes as most legacy strips do—or rethread the needle every day like a gag cartoonist.
But these were Phred’s people, and it seemed to me that an effort to look at the war as they had experienced it was long overdue. The first fighter I talked to had fought from the Cu Chi tunnel complex just north of Saigon. His experiences were filled with every sort of deprivation and horror imaginable. He was the sole survivor of a unit that had been completely wiped out, twice—once through attrition, the second time by a direct hit on their position while he was out foraging. He’d spent the night burying his comrades.
Shipley, the community college prof, are all grizzled veterans, but with those characters, the fun is in the reverse engineering. The reveal lies not in what they become, but in how they became what they are. The backstory is rarely worked out in advance, so I get to go on the same journey as the readers, preceding them by mere days, narrating over my shoulder: “Aha! ” None of which is to say that the old, established characters aren’t essential. Without them, Doonesbury would flap around, unfocused and flimsy.
40. A Doonesbury Retrospective 1980 to 1989 by Garry Trudeau