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: What's up with Trudeau running a big Howard Dean campaign the last few weeks. Is Trudeau in the tank?
-- M. Mahoney, Sacramento, CA | Storyline | September 03, 2003
A:Damn near. Here's the skinny for full-disclosure buffs: GBT and Dr. Dean were childhood buddies, having first met at summer camp. During a camp wrestling tournament, the puny Trudeau pinned the athletic Dean twice, an humiliation (attention, biographers) that has haunted Dean ever since. After attending Yale together, the two lost track of one another until Dean became governor of Vermont and told a reporter that he'd developed his sense of humor hanging out with Trudeau. Trudeau wrote him to protest, because during his teenage years, GBT didn't actually have a sense of humor. This may explain why reporters don't think Dean has one, either. Actually he does, at least around Trudeau, so GBT gave him $2000 (maxing out early) on the promise of relief from daily Dean-For-America fundraising spam, a promise that his friend has yet to make good on. Dean has also refused to soften his position on gun control, drug reform, or any other issue of importance to GBT, so a lot of good it's done.
Q: Did you receive a lot of feedback on the May 4 "French" Sunday strip?
-- J. B., Lakeside, MONTANA | Storyline | July 25, 2003
A: Mon dieu! You betcha. The May 4 Sunday strip, in which Mark Slackmeyer and Zonker addressed "France bashers" in French, inspired a flood of e-mail responses that was impressive in its volume, variety, and passion. Many of the more outraged correspondents wrote under the misconception that GBT is either a native of France or Canada. He was born and raised in New York state. A sampling of the feedback, pro and con, appears below. And here's a link, in case you missed THE STRIP AND ITS ENGLISH TRANSLATION.

Thank you for articulating what I have been feeling concerning all the France-bashing going on in the country lately. There has been so much across-the-board bashing (Democrat, Republican, whatever) that I had begun to doubt the appropriateness of my own outrage. Thanks for the laugh and the lift.
-- S.P. Lee, Ivins, UT

Why don't you move to France and e-mail your strip back to the U.S.? It would lower the pollution rate in our country by at least 1 percent. I am saddened to see people like you take advantage of and abuse our freedom by using their public prominence to verbally "spit on" our Flag and our Leader. I pity you and your ilk.You have only my scorn.
-- Don S., Redding, CA

I believe that, because of today's strip you will join the Dixie Chicks in terms of treatment by America. Yes, your strip will no longer be played on C&W stations! However, all I can say is: Je suis d'accord avec le 5/4/03 Doonesbury complet?ment.
-- Joe Merola, Blacksburg, VA

My name if French also, but I am an American! Where were the French while my brothers and sisters in the American forces were liberating Iraq? Complaining, because their business contracts would be null and void soon. Yes, they helped liberate us from the British over 225 years ago (after our forces took most of the beating). That is once in two millenium. On the other hand, we have gone in to kick out invaders of France twice in one century. All we asked for was support, but had it shoved back in our faces. If you love France so much why don't you just pack up and go live there?
-- Steve S., USN

Thank you! What a great strip. Never have I been so ashamed to be an American as when I encounter "freedom fries" or folks who won't buy French wine. I was in France last year on business on the anniversary of 911 and our French colleagues were wearing black suits with American flag pins on their lapels. I cried my eyes out when the minute of silence was observed. Viva la France!!!
-- Jen Rice, Seattle, WA

After twenty years of being a fan and buying all the Doonesbury crap, this Conquer-Monkey now knows it's okay to be insensitive and rude to people you don't agree with -- so fuck France, and fuck you.
-- T. Englet, Houston, TX

Je ne ferai pas mal ? mon copain qui m'a r?veill?, je vais l'embrasser tendrement en public pour montrer mon appr?ciation pour son sens de responsabilit? civile. Autant que j'aimerai vous offrir la m?me chose, je pr?f?re compromettre mes principes d'internaute pour vous ?crire ce couriel en but de vous f?liciter sur votre commentaire. Vous avez raison, vous avez les couilles d'un Viking. Je suis canadiens, mais j'ai recenti une folle baffle sur mon h?ritage, ainsi que celui des am?ricains de d?cendance fran?aise, au moment ou la population des ?-U sonna la cloche sur les produits qui portent le nom de la France. Bravo, M. Trudeau!
-- Dominic M., Toronto, CANADA

The U.S. is a great country and there's no room for bashers of the great U.S. What the hell is your problem? Do you not support this country? If you don't like it then move back to France.
-- R., Woodinville, WA

Would it be too expensive to put this up with its translation on billboards around the country? It's getting spooky out there -- somebody needs to sound the alarm!
-- M. Marmor, Chicago, IL

As Ann Coulter so accurately explains in her book Slander, the only thing liberals like yourself can do when discussing issues like the war on Iraq or the French sellout to Saddam Hussein is to call people names. That's of course because you are always so completely wrong on the issues and have nothing else to say! Your strip shows how consistent you liberals always are! Name calling! What a great way to discuss the issues.
-- Mark Bedor, Studio City, CA

Today's strip does make a good point about freedom. I always enjoy your strips -- they help leaven my conservatism. Yes, conservatives are open-minded and can and will listen to new ideas. Impossible as it may seem, we can and do think for ourselves. Keep up the good work!
-- R.C., Round Rock, TX

Ou ?tes-vous si provincial que vous ne reconnaissez pas l'?ne d'un singe dans le miroir? Vive the land of the free and the home of the BRAVE - America!
-- B. Priez, a patriotic Franco-American

As an American progressive who lives in Canada and makes his living translating from French into English, I gotta say I loved your anti-France-bashers strip. In recent weeks you have given me a way to show my U.S.-bashing friends that we're not all jingoistic, self-regarding conquer monkies
-- A.D., Kitchener, Ontario, CANADA

You probably get lots of hate mail, so add this to the pile. While I always despise your absurd strip, this Sunday takes the cake. My grandfather sacrificed for the French there in WWI, my three uncles served in WWII in different areas. Should the French be free? Of course. But free actions have consequences, and the French have showed themselves to be ingrates, morons and dirty dealers. We only owe them so much for our revolution. I am free to despise the French now, and I will boycott their products, and urge my representatives to punish them in any way we can. I am not surprised this absurd, inaccurate comic comes from a Frenchman.
-- John Cotter, Centereach, NY

Your bravery is inspirational in the McCarthyistic times we are going through, where even the slightest criticism of government policy seems to be considered treasonous over there. It's only in monarchies and totalitarian states where the word of the leader is unquestionable law. In democracies you're supposed to criticize the government and expose its flaws. That's the whole damn point of the system! Keep up the good work and don't let the bullies of the world grind you down.
-- John L., Wellington, NEW ZEALAND

Found your May 4 strip to be very funny. Oh, I don't mean funny ha-ha. I mean funny sicko. I will no longer read Doonesbury, and am complaining to my local newspaper about this insufferable exploitation of their goodwill and the insult to myself and all patriotic Americans.
-- Bruce Goehring, TX

I just wanted to say "Bravo!" for last Sunday's cartoon. Il faut dire la verit?! Je suis am?ricaine, mais je n'aime pas ce que nous faisons maintenant aux fran?ais. Ils ?taient toujours nos amis, mais je ne sais pas pourquoi beaucoup d'am?ricains pensent que nos amis ont besoin de faire ce que nous disons! C'est vraiment bizarre! J'ai peur que nous allons perdre tous nos amis ? cause de notre orgueil.
Bon journ?e
-- Margaret Varner, Milledgeville, GA

Congratulations! Looks like you finally found a way to get people to read your work. Now you and your strip will be remembered for being full of hate. You and Saddam seem to have the same way of thinking -- do and say whatever it takes to get in the news and the history books.
-- Frank W., Phoenix, AZ

I adore the x on the end of my name, and the French heritage that goes with it, but lately I have caught grief for it. I've had people tell me that they have to boycott me as part of an anti-France stance and tell me off for France's disagreement with the Bush administration's Iraq policies. Do I agree with this war? No. Am I less than patriotic? NO. Thank you for pointing out how xenophobic a vocal portion of America has become and the utter idiocy of France bashing.
-- Michelle Therese Genevieve Goubeaux

Say clown, where do you get off with "patriotic Franco-American"? You have always been against America. Your slimey-liberal anti-American views are well known. Why not get the hell out of here and practice your crap with the Canadians or the Frogs. And don't give me any of that 'freedom of speech' stuff. You intend to do harm to the American way of life.
-- Sam B., SF, CA

As another Franco-American, your cartoon provided the one moment of glee I have had in recent months. As a woman with a French heritage, I have been hurt and horrified by the extent of the vicious and racist attacks on France -- not even couched as "the government of France" but "the French". As an American, I am embarrassed by this type of behavior, which I thought would never return after the KKK went underground.
-- A.P. Punzavitz, Annapolis, MD