Creating the Strip
Beta-fresh answers, uploaded occasionally
Lets face it, our favorite comic strip is often obscure or inconsistent, and key characters are sometimes left stranded for years. Long-suffering readers are within their rights to demand some clarification. Use the "Ask GBT" form to email us your questions, and we will answer those we can on the Blowback page, and also archive the answers here.
Garry Trudeau has sent the following message to Linus, the Italian magazine for which Enzo translated Doonesbury for many years: "Enzo Baldoni brimmed with the kind of passion and joyfulness that we Americans like to associate with being Italian. Such was the size of his life force, that he literally laughed at death, always brushing aside the concerns of friends who begged him to stop exploring the world's most troubled regions. Chiapas, Columbia, East Timor, Iraq -- these were the kinds of places Enzo was drawn to -- out of compassion and concern and curiosity. When he left for Najaf earlier this month, he sent me his usual breezy email, informing me that he was off to do something well-intentioned but insanely dangerous. I told him to email again as soon as he left Iraqi air space, never imagining he wouldn't be able to cheat death one more time. And why not? He was Enzo the miraculous. He had always come home before.
"I do not speak or read Italian, so I was never able to evaluate our collaboration. However, since I seem to have Italian readers in abundance, I can only assume that he improved my writing, making it livelier and funnier. When we finally met during a trip to Italy in 1991, I could tell that the strip was in good hands -- nobody as effusive and generous of spirit as Enzo could fail to leave Walden a happier place than he found it. And nobody could have represented my intentions with greater fidelity -- he regularly wrote to inquire about some nuance that he felt he might be missing (but rarely was).
"Although we have not seen each other in some time, I will miss my friend tremendously. My thoughts are with his family and colleagues during this sorrowful time."
--Ken Luer, LA, CA
Are you aware that NY Newsday is censoring the strip? The name of Tenet was removed from the strips of 6-9-04 and 6-10-04.
-- Larry S., NY, NY
"The strip isn't really about masturbation or the prostate cancer study as such, but about the shifting nature of taboos and the inability of two adults to have a certain kind of serious conversation. It was inspired by a similar conversation I had recently with friends. The more traditional viewpoint (Boopsie's) is represented without mockery, so readers who share her discomfort shouldn't be offended. There's a laugh in there, but not really at her expense.
"Still, I understood that the mention of certain words per se would not be acceptable to some family newspapers, which is why we made the alternative strip available. This is likely a one-time departure from past practice, and it does not signal our intention to start supplying replacement strips (what Pogo's Walt Kelly used to call his 'bunny rabbit strips') every time there's a chance someone might be offended by the regular release. It's a 'South Park' world now, and younger readers are unlikely to be shocked or confused by anything they find in Doonesbury. Besides, our general experience is that most children don't understand Doonesbury in any event, and thus sensibly avoid it."
-- Fredrica R., Bronxville, NY
In my local paper the last panel of Sunday's strip had been altered to conceal the name "Bill Bennett". It's a good bet someone scratched it out.
--T.C., Larchmont, NY