He was known more for his narrative story telling than illustrations that seemed secondary. Known more for an ostensibly corrosive pen that satirized and skewered the U.S. Government and the establishment behind it. The tyranny of the majority. Its hard to believe Garry Trudeau’s Doonsbury is forty years old. A lifetime of variations on one idea, that basically stayed in the box. Its all been summarized in a new book, make that a brick of twelve pounds and 700 pages, which is less than 20% of the output. The comic strip filled a need for light tolerable dissent that would be picked up by the dailies and lent them a form of credibility under a thin veneer of calorie reduced anger. make that smirk.
If it was really radical he would be competing in an underground an alternative market of the Robert Crumb’s.Trudeau’s work is a distillation of of other currents and then sapped of their critical content. It is a chronicle of modern times, that juxtaposes the white American profit motive where improbable caricatures are juxtaposed with real events. In a way Doonsbury is a complementary character to John Updike’s Rabbit Redux. They are two sides of the dial. And in many ways thy are similar.Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, the protestant middle-class descendant of the European burgher IS the reader of the daily.
What can be expected from a Yale Scroll and Key member?The inspiration is not Dalton Trumbo’s “Johnny Got His Gun” or Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cats Cradle”. In contrast to his fellow cartoonists, who were producing mostly drivel, Trudeau got into Vietnam, Watergate, gender politics etc. through the eye of pop psychology. Its not coincidental that he came from a Republican background, yet finds himself with the counterculture. Gilles Deleuze and Sartre? Hardly. But a worthy study in semiotics. Political cartoons had a long history in America, and Trudeau cannot claim to have innovated on their introduction.
Doonesbury inspired not for the drawings. His characters were not very well rendered: for the first few months, Mike and the gang didn’t even have mouths. In most cases, the strip consisted of four almost identical panels, with only the words changing. The strip succeeded because it was topical, covering civil rights, women’s rights, the generation gap, Richard Nixon, and, perhaps most famously, Vietnam: B.D., the quarterback from Walden College, goes to war as an unrepentant booster of U.S. ambitions in South Asia, and, when he gets yanked home, famously protests, “But this war had such promise!” Read More: http://arts.nationalpost.com/tag/comics/page/2/
Over time, Doonesbury’s stable diversified; paper-thin feminists (Joanie Caucus) or sex symbols (B.D.’s girlfriend, Boopsie) became some of the most interesting protagonists, including his stately congresswoman, Lacey Davenport, and Ms. Caucus’s daughter, J.J., who grew up to become a performance artist and married Mike Doonesbury. Duke, Trudeau’s caricature of the writer Hunter Thompson, was at various points a journalist, owner of the Washington Redskins, ambassador to China, owner of a medical school in the Caribbean; Mike joined an ad agency and sold out; Zonker became a tanning professional; B. D. moved to California and became a highway cop.Read More: http://arts.nationalpost.com/tag/comics/page/2/
What we basically have with Trudeau’s work, or product, is an entertainment commodity that assimilates into the “Society of the Spectacle” that American culture inhabits and actively promotes. Its dumbed-down entertainment thats a spare part in the military industrial and entertainment complex that controls consciousness. The creation of amyth that Trudeau was a rebel or a radical is pure fluff.
Watergate was the point of no return. Trudeau provoked indignation and adoration in equal measure when his character Mark Slackmayer, a radical DJ, declared Nixon’s former attorney general, John Mitchell, “guilty, guilty, guilty!” even before he had been charged. The Washington Post commented sniffily that “If anyone is going to find any defendant guilty, it’s going to be the due process of justice, not a comic strip artist.”
But the Washington Post hadn’t counted on the tenacity and the thick skin of Garry Trudeau. As he wrote on the 25th anniversary of Doonesbury, “Satire is unfair. It’s rude and uncivil. It lacks balance and proportion, and it obe
one of the normal rules of engagement. Satire picks a one-sided fight, and the more its intended target reacts, the more its practitioner gains the advantage. And as if that weren’t enough, this savage, unregulated sport is protected by the United States constitution. Cool, huh?” Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/26/garry-trudeau-doonesbury-40 a
Other public figures whom Trudeau targeted were no less undignified in their responses. Donald Trump called him a “jerk” and a “total loser”. When Trudeau invoked Frank Sinatra’s links with the mafia in an astonishing strip that ended with a photograph of the singer cavorting with his mob friends, Ol’ Blue Eyes made the mistake, during a concert at the Carnegie Hall, of attacking not just Trudeau but also his wife – who was a big television sweetheart at the time. “Well, that’s the first rule of the neighbourhood, you don’t go after the women and children,” Trudeau says. “The audience booed him, which must have come as a shock to Sinatra.”…
The lesson of all this is that when Doonesbury comes calling, do not react, no matter how hurtful the things the strip says about you. It will only make Trudeau redouble his attack if you do. It was funny how few of his victims understood that basic principle, not least the politicians. Dan Quayle, whom he depicted as a feather, wailed that Trudeau had a vendetta against him. George Bush the elder was incapable of not responding, saying he wanted to “kick the hell out of him”. Jeb Bush once came up to Trudeau at a Republican convention and cautioned him to “walk softly”. “And of course that just encouraged me,…Read More: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/oct/26/garry-trudeau-doonesbury-40 a
In order to lighten his workload, the syndicate put him in touch with an inker, Don Carlton, with whom he has worked for the duration of his career. This division of labor would lead to a ginned-up controversy in the early nineties, when Entertainment Weekly and the Wall Street Journal took shots at Trudeau for not drawing his own work—apparently unfamiliar with the common comics-industry practice of parceling out penciling and inking duties to separate artists. Trudeau responded wryly: “After years of absorbing the blame for the drawing in Doonesbury, it’s odd to wake up one day and find myself stripped of the credit.” Read More: http://slyoyster.com/book-club/2010/two-doonesbury-things-for-you-this-morning/ a
Universal Press Syndicate withdrew a threat of legal action against the Wall Street Journal after the newspaper ran a “Doonesbury” editorial.
The lengthy December 18 editorial was actually quite critical of “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, but Universal felt the piece contained enough of an apology/retraction to call off its attorneys. Universal’s attorneys had set December 18 as the deadline for an apology/retraction for the Journal’s November 21 editorial-page “aside” comparing Trudeau to Milli Vanilli, the disgraced music duo exposed as lip-syncers of other singers’ voices.
This aside was based on a report in the November 8 Entertainment Weekly (EW) magazine implying that Don Carlton is a ghost artist for Trudeau. Read More: http://business.highbeam.com/4130/article-1G1-11796505/wall-street-journal-vs-doonesbury-ups-considers-journal