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: I read a post on your BLOWBACK page from a vet who says B.D.'s story has helped her decide to seek counseling. I'm at that same point myself, and would appreciate your advice on how to get the ball rolling. Who do I call?
-- M.B., Seattle, WA | Storyline | May 25, 2006
A:We checked with our VA sources, and they suggest that you begin by going to the Vet Center main page HERE for information regarding readjustment counseling for combat veterans and their families. This includes contact information for all 207 VET CENTERS, links for PTSD information at the NATIONAL CENTER FOR PTSD, and numerous other resources. Vet Center staff can be reached at 1-800-905-4675 (during normal business hours - Eastern). All of these services are part of the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS. Welcome home.
Q: I'm enjoying the current flag-burning series. How about revisiting some of the strips that addressed the same subject during previous attempts to pass the anti-flag-burning Amendment? I particularly remember one about the difficulty of legally disposing of a comic strip version of the Stars-n-Stripes. Thanks!
-- Phil G., Redding, CA | Storyline | August 03, 2006
A:We are happy to offer you this link to three all-American Doonesbury classic Sundays, including the "Marvelous Mark's Konundrum Korner" strip to which you refer. Enjoy!
Q: Re: this week's "King George" strips. GBT did this once before, in the Nixon era. I remember the punchline "Tricia, however, looks forward to becoming a princess," or something like that. Could you please give a link to those archived strips?
-- Mary, Port Moody, B.C., CANADA | Storyline | September 15, 2006
A:A timely question, which we are happy to answer in the affirmative. The series you refer to concerned purloined IT&T memos which revealed a plot to crown Richard Nixon. The scandal was uncovered by young Rufus Jackson, Mike Doonesbury's precocious tutee, and made public by Zonker Harris. Herewith a link to the 1972 episode known as THE ZONKER PAPERS.
Q: A longtime fan, I bought all of the "smaller" books up to You Give Great Meeting, Sid, and all of the anthologies up through Doonesbury Deluxe. But as our kids got older and more expensive I was forced to realign my spending priorities.
In 2005, Hurricane Rita (not Katrina, the other one) blew our house down and ruined all of our possessions. In "starting over", one of the top things on my list has been replacing, if not the smaller Doonesbury books, at least the anthologies -- and acquiring the ones that I never owned. Could you give me a list of all of them? I'd like to get them in hardcover, but have only been able to do so up to (once again) Doonesbury Deluxe. Were any of the later ones released in that format?
-- Bob Martindale, Nederland, Texas | Storyline | January 22, 2007
A:In the original Doonesbury publishing cycle, small-format books were published every six months and periodically anthologized into larger volumes (with a few strips edited out in the process). This gradually evolved into the current program, in which a large-format book appears more or less annually. The following large-format titles will put the vast majority of the Doonesbury canon on your shelf: The Doonesbury Chronicles, Doonesbury?s Greatest Hits, The People?s Doonesbury, Doonesbury Dossier, Doonesbury Deluxe, Recycled Doonesbury, The Portable Doonesbury, The Bundled Doonesbury, Buck Wild Doonesbury, Duke 2000, The Revolt of the English Majors, Peace Out, Dawg!, Got War?, Talk to the Hand!, and the recently-published Heckuva Job, Bushie! There are two large-format special-themed volumes: Action Figure!: The Life and Times of Doonesbury?s Uncle Duke, and Dude: The Big Book of Zonker. The only Doonesbury book published in hardcover after Doonesbury Deluxe was the twenty-five-year retrospective Flashbacks
Q: In light of the recent passing of journalist David Halberstam, do you have any plans to re-run those terrific strips in which he was a character (and which he apparently loved)?
-- Alex Balk, New York, NY | Storyline | May 17, 2007
A:We do now. Thanks for asking. Here's the two-week 1979 series in which David "Tome" Halberstam interviewed Rick Redfern to within an inch of his life.
Q: Okay, so what is MST? It's mentioned in the 6/22/07 strip. I'm guessing it's not "Mountain Standard Time."
-- Dave Gracer, Providence, Rhode Island
Storyline | August 11, 2007
A:MST stands for Military Sexual Trauma -- and it's not surprising you haven't heard it before. Although the problem is not new, the coinage is recent enough that it's not yet included on some military acronym lists. Here's some background on the subject.
Q: We now interrupt nearly three weeks of great cartooning to plug the next great internet venture...Pandora. What's the deal? Does GBT have an early stake in this company?
-- J.T., Tivoli, NY | Storyline | December 10, 2007
A:Not yet. Nor do his fortunes seem likely to improve, as 37 years of references in the strip to products, trends, bands, movies, books, TV programs, websites and celebrities have inexplicably failed to yield anything more fungible than the case of Wild Turkey he received in 1977. GBT didn't help his case in the Toggle series by mocking Celine Dion; Pandora founder Tim Westergren, it turns out, is a big fan.
Q: I don't remember Doonesbury ever including Santa Claus in the strip, or addressing the holiday at all. Is GBT part of the War on Christmas?
-- Hank I., Galesburg, IL | Storyline | January 09, 2008
A:If we didn't know better, we'd take this to be a thinly-veiled attempt (a successful one, we might add) to summon visitations by a few of our favorite ghosts of Doonesbury Christmases past. Merry Holidays!
Q: The Sunday 9/21/08 strip mentions a GOPAC document written by Newt Gingrich. Can you direct me to it somewhere on the web? Thanks.
-- Bruce V., Olympia, WA | Storyline | September 22, 2008
A:Certainly. The full document referred to is somewhat longer, but you can find the relevant page here.
Q: I've noticed that for several years now, conservative commentators and bloggers have used the Condi Rice/Brown Sugar strip as evidence of Trudeau's contempt for black conservatives. Any reaction?
-- Stanley M., Santa Cruz, CA | Storyline | September 30, 2008

That criticism only makes sense if you strip the Rice cartoon of all context. It appeared as part of THIS WEEK of dailies commenting on George W. Bush's life-long practice of assigning demeaning or diminishing nicknames to those around him. For instance, he dubbed Karl Rove "Boy Genius" (notice the "boy") and "Turd Blossom" (as apt as it is vulgar). Giving out nicknames is both cocky and controlling -- and a revealing signifier of character. The Rice strip, shown below, simply depicts Bush, who feels he's being patronized, reining in his advisor in trademark fashion. To isolate Bush's fictional words and reassign them to Trudeau himself is to deliberately miss the whole point of the strip, if not satire generally.

To read an essay that GBT wrote for Time magazine about Bush's use of nicknames, click HERE .