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.
Okay, clearly I've lost a few brain cells. Who the heck is the bearded dude in a top hat with Zeke in last Saturday's strip?
That be Skid, a retired biker and one of the Widow D's numerous colorful paramours. Their courtship had a rather nasty hidden dimension -- one which involved Zeke, naturally -- as revealed in this series of strips from 2007 and 2008.
Where the heck did Benjy Doonesbury come from? Google yields no results. He doesn't have a Cast bio. He is vapor. Is GBT jumping the shark with a new "old" character? Or did I miss something?
Yep, you missed a few things, but we're happy to catch you up on Mike's baby bro. While still in high school he changed his name from Benjy to Sal Putrid; in college he tried to change his roommate (but was stuck with Trip Trippler); and post-college he banked some serious change as legendary safe sex representative Dr. Whoopee.
Where does Doonesbury rank with respect to daily cartoon longevity? Has it surpassed Li'l Abner or Charlie Brown?
At 40, Doonesbury is getting up there in terms of a feature created by a single person, but Li’l Abner ran for 43 years, Peanuts for almost 50, and at 60, Beetle Bailey is the longest-running feature still being done by its original creator. There have been longer runs when the torch was passed to someone else. Little Orphan Annie ran from 1924-1974, then again as Annie from 1979-2010, a total of 81 years of new material. Bringing Up Father (aka Jiggs and Maggie) ran for 87 years. Popeye, launched in 1929, ended its daily run in 1994, but continues in Sunday-only form, as does the 113-year-old Katzenjammer Kids, and Gasoline Alley is still going at 92 -- the longest-running feature still appearing as both daily and Sunday.
I was enjoying the "Zonker Harris Day" storyline as a fun fantasy, but I see from the latest Blowback entries that it has a reality-based dimension. Could you please clarify a bit on what the heck is going on? Thanks!
Zonker Harris Day and Duke Day are decades-old traditions at Wesleyan University -- hallowed occasions for celebration and music. Several months ago residents of the Westco dorm wrote GBT to make sure he knew that Wesleyan's president had called Zonker Harris Day "stupid," and banned the Z-man's name and image -- leading students to dub the festival "Ze Who Must Not Be Named Day." Understandably outraged, the Westco denizens defended the legendary slacker, telling Trudeau, "We cannot stand for an excellent babysitter, student, football player, and beach rights activist to be so dishonored." For more on the developing crisis -- and for an interesting gloss on the "Ze" aspect -- check out this Wesleyan Argus article.
How are you celebrating Doonesbury's 40th?
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.
Considering that pot may be legalized soon in several states, and in light of the fact that Zonker was recently contemplating getting into cultivation, how about giving us a flashback hit off that good ol' hand-rolled character Mr. Jay?
We're happy to fire up our favorite spokes-joint. Just don't bogart the strip.
The Long Road Home: One Step at a Time, Foreword by General Richard B. Myers.
The War Within: One Step at a Time, Foreword by Sen. John McCain.
Signature Wound: Rocking TBI, Foreword by General Peter Pace.
(Author proceeds go to Fisher House.)