Out There

FAQs

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.

Q:

All the SayWhat? quotes would form quite a vivid chronicle of our time. Are they archived somewhere?

David Satz | Out There | Brooklyn, NY | January 22, 2014
A:

Yes! You'll find the SayWhat? Archive listed in the MEDIA CENTER dropdown menu on our home page. We added this feature during our last major rebuild, in 2010 -- the site was launched in 1995 -- so only a portion of the complete archive is available. But it's still almost 1,000 quotes. Read 'em and weep.

Q:

How are you celebrating Doonesbury's 40th?

Karen Sublette | Out There | Gold Hill, OR | October 25, 2010
A:

With as much gusto, tome-ocity, hullabaloo and pomp as circumstances will allow. For starters, as we hope you’ve noticed, the Doonesbury.com website has been completely re-designed (after 15 years, it seemed time). For two weeks we’re opening up the entire Doonesbury archive – every strip from October 26, 1970 up through today. And our host-pals at Slate are offering a bevy of anniversary features – their 200 Doonesbury's Greatest Moments links will help you explore that deep archive; a pithy interview with David Plotz gives GBT the chance to explain a few things; and they are posting illuminating essays about the strip by Tom Ricks, Gail Collins, Jeffrey Toobin, Gene Weingarten, Walter Isaacson, and Nicholas von Hoffman.

Then there’s 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, a unique and ambitious tome that dares to take a mere 700-page, 1,800-strip shot at tracking the utterly interconnected lives of the strip’s multitude of characters – with 18 in-depth essays by creator G.B. Trudeau and a four-page 70-character foldout Guide to Interconnectedness map (way more complex that that which explains the New York City subway system). As if that weren’t enough (apparently it’s not), we would also like direct your attention to Brian Walker’s mind-boggling book Doonesbury and the Art of G.B. Trudeau, which sheds serious new light on GBT’s work (see slide show here). If you also consider the gallery show in New Haven, the interviews on Charlie Rose, NPR, in Costco’s magazine, hither, and yon -- hey, it’s a party. And as key members of the family, you are warmly invited.

Q: I know that you've done some spinoff books -- The Sandbox, The War in Quotes -- but it seems like we're overdue for a new collection of strips. Or did I miss something?
-- K.S., San Francisco, CA | Out There | November 30, 2009
A:Not at all, and thanks for the timely query. The latest collection, Tee Time in Berzerkistan (a hefty 240-pager), is just now hitting the bookstores, and that will bring you up to date -- unless you overlooked last year's Welcome To the Nerd Farm!
Q: I love the Roland Tweets, so much so that I signed up on Twitter, and I hate Twitter! But I gotta ask; do you personally write all of those posts? No offense intended!
-- Tim Welch, Lexington, KY | Out There | April 01, 2009
A:None taken. GBT writes all of Roland's Tweets. Whether this is a productive use of his time is above the Duty Officer's pay grade to say. Even though he thinks it's insane.
Q: I see there's a new Doonesbury book out. I feel like I've missed a few. Would you please tell me the sequence of titles that have come out since the last big anthology, The Bundled Doonesbury? Thanks.
-- G. Polhemus, Carmichel, CA | Out There | February 22, 2008
A:The Bundled Doonesbury (which came with a PC-only CD-Rom containing all the strips through May 1997) was followed by these annual collections: Buck Wild Doonesbury; Duke2000: Whatever It Takes; The Revolt of the English Majors; Peace Out, Dawg!: Tales From Ground Zero; Got War?; Talk to the Hand; Heckuva Job, Bushie! and, most recently, Welcome to the Nerd Farm!. Also published during this period: the large-format Dude: The Big Book of Zonker; two books chronicling B.D.'s wounding and recovery, The Long Road Home and The War Within; and Doonesbury.com's The Sandbox.
Q: What is that "Whack...hissss" sound that loads with each new comic? Where did it come from?
-- Karen Hopkins, Nevada City, CA | Out There | April 27, 2007
A:That appealing pair of tones is an actual audio recording of a digitally reproduced comic strip being snapped into the display chamber and sliding into viewing position. This remarkable feat of recording was accomplished at the sound studios of Mr. Fred Newman, the voice of Duke in the Duke2000 animated videos.
Q: The 3/4/07 Sunday strip shows Duke posting his "campaign videos" on YouTube. And I see that they are actually there. What's the story on these? Where did they come from?
-- B.H., Philadelphia, PA | Out There | March 20, 2007
A:Seven years ago, Former Ambassador Duke launched his maverick "Whatever It Takes" campaign for the White House with this stirring declaration: "I want to be the ferret in the pants of government." E-campaigning from his headquarters at the E-Z Rest Motor Lodge in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, Duke set out to prove that an average citizen, with nothing more than a laptop, a few spam speeches, and a sackful of soft money, could make political history.

Duke's campaign was amply chronicled in the strip itself, but GBT also worked with Protozoa, a San Francisco dotcom (since defunct), to create a 3-D animated Duke, capable of interacting in the real world in real time. Using cutting-edge motion-capture technology, and drawing on the voice-and-movement talents of Fred Newman, this project resulted in several hours of innovative animation which was so ahead of then-existing bandwidth capabilities that only now, two election cycles later and thanks to YouTube, can it be widely viewed and fully appreciated.

Duke's insurgent effort as a Reform Party candidate won him a small place in the history books, and put the outspoken candidate live on "Larry King", "Today", and dozens other shows. In a multitude of short campaign films such as "Healer-in-Chief", "Stirred, Not Shaken", "Forgotten White Guy", "Poodles" and "Apocalypse 2000" (with a Doors soundtrack), Duke managed to confound conventional wisdom on a dazzling array of topics.

You can view the Duke2000 videos here on our site, at Duke's Video Dump, or on YouTube. Additional D2K episodes will be posted weekly over the months ahead. To find out more about the project, you can read this extensive article from Wired magazine.

Q: The banner line in the 6/4 Sunday strip reads, "In Memoriam since April 23, 2005." Supposedly a tribute to our fallen heroes. All fine and dandy until one reflects on Trudeau, his politics and his motivation. Certainly it isn't out of respect, because this way-left-of-center commentator has shown he is anti-military, anti-Republican and anti-President Bush...So, what's the point?
-- W.M. Benton, Fort Collins, CO | Out There | June 20, 2006
A:For many readers, Doonesbury has long been something of a Rorschach test -- they see in it what they are predisposed to see. Case in point, those who detect an antimilitary bias in the strip. It may interest -- if not confuse -- these critics to learn that if GBT has such a bias, the military itself has failed to notice. During the first Gulf War, the Pentagon organized a touring exhibition of the Doonesbury war strips, and during Trudeau's visit to Kuwait, where he met hundreds of soldiers, he was awarded certificates of achievement by the Ready First Brigade and the 4th Battalion 67th Armor, which made him an "honorary Bandit for life". More recently, the DOD, USO and VA have all worked closely with Trudeau on the strips depicting B.D.'s wounding in Iraq, and last December, Walter Reed Army Medical Center presented him with the Commander's Award for Public Service, the third-highest civilian award given by the Army. GBT's collection of B.D. strips, The Long Road Home, with a preface by Senator John McCain, benefits Fisher House, the on-campus facility for the families of wounded warriors. (A follow-up book, The War Within, is planned for this fall, also to benefit Fisher House.) And in July, Trudeau will be honored by the Vietnam Veterans of America with this year's President's Award.
Q: Those who have followed B.D.'s journey will be surprised to learn that the Washington Hilton has served eviction papers on Fran O'Brien's Steakhouse, the host of the Friday night dinners for amputees and seriously wounded (covered in Doonesbury during B.D.'s time at Walter Reed). Hilton "generously" provided two weeks notice on the eviction papers, which comes after months of requests by the owners of Fran O'Brien's for renewal of the lease. Shame on Hilton.

Fran O'Brien's is due to close at the end of the month. Until then, if you would like to meet two people that America's wounded see as their heroes, stop by and thank Hal Koster and Marty O'Brien for hosting their Friday Night Welcome Home dinners. And it might help to let the Hilton organization know how you feel.

---- Lawrence Kelly, Stony Brook, NY | Out There | April 28, 2006
A:Good idea! We are happy to provide contact info for two Hiltonians: Dan Boyle (212) 838-1558, daniel_a_boyle@hilton.com; and Brian Kellaher (202) 393-1000. Here's a Washington Post story about the closing, video of a local TV station report, and a letter/petition you can sign/send.
Q: Where can I buy Doonesbury action figures? I am particularly interested in a figure of Duke.
-- Ed Landale, Medford, OR | Out There | April 17, 2006
A:Actually, Duke is thus far the only Doonesbury character so rendered. In 1992, when Andrews McMeel published ACTION FIGURE: The Life and Times of Doonesbury's Uncle Duke, the book was packaged with a 3-D figure, artfully crafted by the wizards at Industrial Light and Design. Wearing a "Death Before Unconsciousness" t-shirt, Duke came fully equipped with removeable cigarette holder, weapons and martini glass. Regrettably, subsequent editions of the book (which is still in print) do not include the figure, re-production of which proved too costly. But the book-and-figure package pops up regularly on eBay, where one was recently snapped up for $23.96. Good luck!