Recent 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: Your daily archival Flashbacks feature, which shows the strip 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years ago, has a serious Leap Year flaw. Only occasionally would a strip that originally appeared on a February 29th have the chance to be displayed. How about dusting the nine neglected bissextile Doonesburys off and showing them the light of day?
-- M.B., New Haven, CT | Creating the Strip | January 09, 2007
A:The fact that G.B. Trudeau was on sabbatical in 1984 whittles the Leap Year nine down to eight, but we are pleased to share those strips with you here. Thank you for suggesting this small adjustment, which we hope will put the Doonesbury Calendar back in synch with the cosmic flow of time.
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: I thought that all "real world" personalities used in Doonesbury were given icons, such as an asterisk, a giant hand, a waffle, a helmet and the like. Is your use of an "actual likeness" of Donald Trump a first?
-- Mark, Toronto, CANADA | Characters | January 28, 2007
A:Though a robust tradition of iconic representation has developed in the strip, it is by no means consistent or obligatory, and numerous public figures have been represented by more traditional means. Trump himself has made several previous appearances, including this February 1990 week of in-his-face strips.
Q: My newspaper, The Boston Globe, doesn't run the first two panels of your Sunday strip. Do they have the right to edit your work like that?
-- B.W., Lowell, MA | Creating the Strip | February 12, 2007
A:Newspaper editors can choose among several formats for their Sunday color comic sections. Although the Sunday Doonesbury in its entirety typically consists of eight panels (plus a title panel), some formats can only accommodate six. For this reason, the first two "throwaway panels" are usually related to, but not necessary to, what follows. The good news is that you can always read the complete Sunday Doonesbury strip here at the Town Hall.
Q: Can anyone explain to me why the U.S. President is represented by a floating, damaged, Roman legionnaire's helmet?
-- Ron, Dublin, IRELAND | Characters | March 05, 2007
A:During the first years of Dubya's presidency, the former governor of Texas was represented in the strip by a cowboy hat (as in, "all hat and no cattle") floating over an asterisk (referencing his contested ascension). With the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003, the commander in chief donned a more appropriate piece of headgear -- a Roman helmet, whose horsehair crest has, like his imperial presidency, deteriorated over the course of the war.
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: When Duke came out of his coma recently he was working as a lobbyist on K Street with his son, Earl. Where did Duke get a grown-up son? I clearly missed something.
-- Alan A., Arcata, CA | Characters | April 04, 2007
A:One snowy winter back in the mid-90s, Duke, inspired by the opportunity to take advantage of federal funds available for the purpose, made the improbable decision to turn his Colorado spread into a 24-bed orphanage. Naturally the undertaking, despite Honey's typically competent efforts as administrator, ended badly. But for Doonesbury readers there was an unexpected upside -- the addition of Earl to the cast, as depicted in this series.
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: 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: Now that Mark and Chase are splitting up, I'd love to see the Sunday strip again that was about the two of them at home, having dinner, sharing a glass of wine -- a normal couple. There was very little dialog and not really any "story", but the strip moved me so that I've remembered it all these years. Could you please dig it up? Thanks.
-- Lucy Goszkowski, Annapolis, MD | Characters | June 06, 2007
A:Consider it dug. Here's the 10-5-97 domestic bliss Sunday to which you refer. Good times...