Inspired by today’s comic strip.
I had an appreciation for the old Doonesbury.
Today’s strip, like pretty much everything he’s written for the past five years, is simply terrible. It would have been worth electing Kerry just to see Trudeau get his sense of humor back from the safe he stowed it in.
At least Aaron Magruder of the Boondocks gave up on the Bush-bashing once the four-year re-election campaign was over, and there won’t be another George W. Bush for President campaign. Those strips are funnier and fresher than ever now.
Doonesbury is the only strip I get an out-loud laugh from on a regular basis, since The Far Side went away (although I do bother to read Dilbert daily for the occasional chuckle). The whole series last week about Duke’s bodyguard and the “last throes” of the insurgency in Al Amok kept me going all week.
I admit that he’s gotten a little heavy-handed a few times, but c’mon…it’s not easy coming up with funny stuff in the midst of a wholesale catastrophic debacle with no end in sight. He’s done a helluva lot better than I would’ve, that’s for sure.
And c’mon, read some of this stuff. Duke always keeping the big picture in mind. BD’s ambivalence toward disabled benefits. Mike chasing off the recruiter. Some real gems here.
I’d cut the guy some slack. It’s not easy caring about people getting killed or maimed.
I am often amazed that no matter what Trudeau wishes to satirize, there are characters in the strip who are seemingly pre-positioned to be a part of it. (Maybe not all that impressive, since Uncle Duke can legitimately show up anywhere.) And Mike’s daughter, Alex, shows that Trudeau understands the computer geek mindset better than anybody outside of Bill Amend (Foxtrot).
Best. Comic strip. Ever.
Meh. The strip linked to by the OP didn’t even make me break a smile. Its point has to have been made both better and funnier elsewhere.
This thread almost inspired me to nominate Doonesbury over in the “________, were you ever funny?” thread. Maybe Doonesbury was funny once, decades ago, but that would have been before my time. Yet another comic strip that’s way past its prime.
You know, it seems to me that comic strips usually only have a “shelf life” of a couple of years before they go stale. Dilbert is a good example. It was hysterical when it was a new strip, but by now it’s pretty much worn out.
To me, Doonesbury has always been primarily a political commentary strip, that only occasionally manages to be funny. Maybe it was a genuine comic strip once, but that was before my time too.
Doonesbury to me works as well as it does because of the characters. The characters in Dilbert, for example, are pretty much one note types, cardboard that goes into certain positions to make the joke. The characters in Doonesbury are much more real to me, and I keep reading to see what old friends are up to.
I had the pleasure of attending a talk that Trudeau gave, and while there was a fair amount of topical laughter, the real audience interest was in the characters. One of the most popular questions was “JJ left Mike for Zeke Brenner? Why, in the name of all rational behavior would she do something that stupid?” (This was a while ago. The answers ranged from “Joanie left her when she was the age Alex is now,” to “Zeke includes her in whatever he’s doing, Mike doesn’t. Even though what Zeke is doing ranges from stupid to psychotically illegal, she’s part of the action.”)
I don’t get laugh out loud humor out of it every day, but when I do, it is rarely situational, it’s almost always character driven. To keep picking on Dilbert (which I like, btw), it’s funny when the boss is an idiot, no matter who the boss or the employees are. It’s funny when Lacey bails Joanie out of jail with a diamond brooch because we know Lacey, we know she never thinks about money enough to carry any, but it makes total sense that she always wears the brooch when travelling just in case the local currency collapses. That whole sequence wouldn’t work with different characters. It’s a strength of the strip, and also a weakness, because if you don’t know who Lacey is, it loses a lot of its punch.
Doonesbury may be the best comic strip ever.
I used to put Pogo in the number one position, and the only real way to make the case against it is that Doonesbury has been brilliant for twice as long.
Yes, Doonesbury is still brilliant today. It may have lost a step but it is so many miles ahead of anything else on the comics page that that makes no difference at all.
I recently found a hardcover copy of The Search for Reagan’s Brain at a book sale. (Hardcovers are so rare that I once set a story in the future in which a character collected them as his specialty.) I read it and immediately continued to reread every single collection published since. The way Trudeau created a cast of characters who could be plugged into every new aspect of American culture is unique and irreplaceable. His comments on society are as good as any politcal cartoonist and that they essentially blackballed him after he won the Pulitzer is a continuing disgrace.
True, Duke has been overused and devalued and the second generation Zonker is a pale shadow of the original. As I said, he’s not as wonderful as he was. But he’s still the best.
Future historians will use his strips as a premier way of pointing out the follies of our times, especially the political ones.
Doonebury is one of the best ever – I’d put it as #4, behind Krazy Kat, Pogo, Barnaby, and just ahead of Peanuts.
Like with Peanuts, people today don’t have the slightest inkling as to how revolutionary it was in the beginning. The rest of the comic world has caught up over the years, but it’s still in the top. It’s still funnier than nearly anything out there, and it has been consistently funny for so long its place in history is secure.
His cast is one of the greatest even in comics. His satire is still sharp and nasty. I don’t think anyone has ever improved on him.
Doonesbury continues to piss off the right people, so it’s cool with me. I just wish there was a one-stop comprehensive guide to what large-collection volumes I need to buy to get a complete set.
And Boondocks rocks. The recent series on Michael Jackson were rich!
I loved the old Doonesbury’s from the initial run pre-hiatus. I don’t think it was ever as funny after.
IMHO: Calvin & Hobbes & Bloom County were the funniest Comics ever.
They would have me laughing aloud consistently and never got stale.
At least Foxtrot occasionally tributes the Calvin psychotic Snowmen and User Friendly has actually had Opus show up and the dandelion field.
Doonesbury sucks pondwater and has for years. Trudeau was only marginally amusing when the strip started and he lost that shortly thereafter.
I’m always impressed that Doonesbury has remained as funny as it is after all these years. True it may be a less funny then it used to be, and he gets way to preachy sometimes (the OP’s link is a good example, I cringed when I read it in the paper, and I usually like the strip). Still I can’t think of a strip that has remained readable over such a long time period. Dilbert has gotten steadily less funny over the time of its run so that now it’s rarely worth reading, Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side bailed while they were still at their height and almost every other long running strip hasn’t been funny since I started reading the comics section a decade ago. Treadeau gets props from me just for staying readable after so many years.
While I’m not a huge fan, Doonesbury did earn a soft spot in my heart recently for getting some right-wingers undies in a bunch. Of course they hardly have room to bitch since the right’s contribution to the medium has been absolutely abysmal.
Doonesbury seldom makes me laugh. But it seldom fails to make me smile.
Another vote for “best cartoon ever.” Yes, there have been funnier cartoons – lots of them. Calvin and Hobbes or Bloom County are obvious contenders. Even Garfield was funny once … a long, long time ago. But Doonesbury keeps on.
I speak, by the way, as someone who’s never been to, or even near, the United States. The fact that Doonesbury is printed in the daily papers here is a friggin’ miracle.
> I just wish there was a one-stop comprehensive guide to what large-collection volumes I need to buy to get a complete set.
Here’s the volumes you need to read the entire series:
Doonesbury: The Original Yale Cartoons
Still a Few Bugs in the System
The President Is a Lot Smarter Than You Think
But This War Had Such Promise
Call Me When You Find America
Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!
“What Do We Have for the Witnesses, Johnnie?”
Dare to Be Great, Ms. Caucus
Wouldn’t a Gremlin Have Been More Sensible?
“Speaking of Inalienable Rights, Amy . . .”
You’re Never Too Old for Nuts and Berries
An Especially Tricky People
As the Kid Goes for Broke
Stalking the Perfect Tan
“Any Grooming Hints for Your Fans, Rollie?”
“But the Pension Fund Was Just Sitting There”
We’re Not Out of the Woods Yet
A Tad Overweight, but Violet Eyes to Die For
And That’s My Final Offer!
He’s Never Heard of You Either
In Search of Reagan’s Brain
Ask for May, Settle for June
Unfortunately, She Was Also Wired for Sound
The Wreck of the “Rusty Nail”
You Give Great Meeting, Sid
Check Your Egos at the Door
That’s Doctor Sinatra, You Little Bimbo!
Death of a Party Animal
Calling Dr. Whoopee!
Talking about My G-G-Generation
We’re Eating More Beets!
Read My Lips, Make My Day, Eat Quiche and Die!
Give Those Nymphs Some Hooters!
You’re Smokin’ Now, Mr. Butts!
Welcome to Club Scud!
I’d Go with the Helmet, Ray
What Is It, Tink, Is Pan in Trouble?
Quality Time on Highway 1
Washed Out Bridges and Other Disasters
In Search of Cigarette Holder Man
Buck Wild Doonesbury
Duke 2000: Whatever It Takes
The Revolt of the English Majors
Peace Out, Dawg!: Tales from Ground Zero
Talk to the Hand!
Flashbacks: Twenty-Five Years of Doonesbury
Most of those wouldn’t be the “large” collection volumes.
I like Doonesbury. I agree it is usually more clever than funny. Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were/are better, IMHO. I “appreciate” Doonesbury, own most of the big books. In the early days of the web, G.B. Trudeau spent lots of time chatting at doonesbury.com – I admire his comics, artwork and viewpoint (which I often disagree with); on the boards he came off in somewhat smug and arrogant manner. A lot of gems over the years, though.
I fully agree with this.
Once, Doonesbury was character driven and funny. Nowdays, it’s simply an ongoing shriek of outrage. Which is fine for brief periods, but you can’t really sustain it for 8+ years.
One of my favorite Doonesbury’s has BD and Phred laying on their backs in Vietnam looking up at the sky. There’s a “ROAR” overhead and BD says "Is there anything more beautiful that a group of F-16s (or whatever) in flight?
A butterfly lands on the tip of BD’s nose and Phred says “Bravo for life’s little ironies.”
That is brilliant.
Seeing a giant white feather talk to a giant waffle (or whatever) isn’t nearly as funny. And when did he stop drawing people? He had no problems putting actual people (MacGruder, Coulson, etc) in the earlier strips…why did he stop using actual politicians and start using objects to represent them?